Eggs Shells for Chickens: Oyster Shell Replacement

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Let’s talk chickens.
Having backyard chickens has been a ton of fun. They are more like pets than anything, but the best part is they provide eggs in exchange for feeding them. I like having productive pets around.
They really are like pets. My kids pack them around, pet them, and this little feller likes to catch them, put them in their coop, and shut the door. He’ll go around and collect as many hens as he can in the coop. I’ll notice and ask him what he’s doing and he yells, “I’m trapturing your chitins!” I let him play for a bit and then let them back out of the coop when he isn’t looking. Every kid should have this kind of entertainment in their lives.

Eggs Shells for Chickens: Oyster Shell Replacement

Here’s a little tip about caring for backyard chickens:
Egg shells are mostly made from calcium, so it is important that I make sure the ladies have enough calcium in their diet to keep the outside of their eggs nice and strong. Most commercial chicken food has what they need, if that is their sole source of food. My birds run around the yard eating greens and bugs, plus we take all of our table scraps out to them, too. That being said, they probably aren’t getting enough calcium in their diets. Lots of people buy crushed oyster shells (from IFA and even Wal-Mart here carries it), but I didn’t want to add one more expense to the list. After talking to some friends and consulting Google I discovered that you can feed chickens crushed egg shells (which are mostly made of calcium) instead of crushed oyster shells.
Now this post might not apply to everyone who reads this blog, but I am trying to convince you that you need your own backyard brood, so I thought I’d share this little money-saving tip.
Since all of the hens are laying, I have plenty of eggs. When I use an egg I just toss the shell in a container with a lid and keep it under my sink. When the container is full then I prepare the shells for the chickens.
1. Dump the egg shells on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. This kills any bacteria that might be on the eggs and changes the smell of them too. You aren’t supposed to let your chickens have access to eggs as food because they might start pecking at eggs that they just laid.
Eggs Shells for Chickens: Oyster Shell Replacement

2. After the eggs cool, crush them with a rolling pin. They become really brittle and break like glass. Be careful – the pieces are pretty sharp.

3. Keep crushing until the pieces are very small. Now they don’t look or smell like an egg shell and are ready for the chickens.

I put all of our food scraps in my compost pile. The chickens know that scraps are there and will scratch through my pile to look for food treasure. They aerate and fertilize my compost pile while looking for something to eat. I just put the crushed egg shells on the ground near the compost pile and they know they are there and can eat them as needed.

There you have it – egg shells in place of oyster shells for backyard chickens. You never know when you might need this information…

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  1. Lnz says:

    Well I did try this, it sounded like a great idea- unfortunately the remaining yolk in the shells burned within 10minutes, a *Terrible* stench throughout my house lasted for at least two days! 🙁 I’ll try again after first washing off the shells.

  2. Patricia says:

    I save the egg shells as well. I wanted to disguise them so the “girls” wouldn’t want to eat their eggs. I experimented one day with putting the shells in my coffee grinder. I get a fine podwer which is easy to add to their feed and it is unrecognizable. While I always wash them before putting them in a container to be ground, I will try your suggestion and bake them as well. Thanks for the tip.

    1. Rosalie says:

      Don’t forget that you want your hens to have the option of eating the shells. They should be served separately so the hens who don’t need the extra calcium don’t eat it.

  3. 1authorcygnetbrown says:

    I never go to that much trouble. I usually just let the shells dry out naturally, then crunch them up a little and give them to the chickens. I never have had problems with chickens eating eggs.

    1. Rosalie says:

      I don’t bake mine either. I do wash them before letting the dry naturally. After a week or so, they are very brittle.

  4. Beth says:

    I know this post is like a year old but hopefuly you will get this and be able to answer my question:) I have only 6 chickens at this time and they are all great layers, except for the one who keeps getting broody:( Anyway, our barred chicken, like the one in picture above lays eggs that cracks EVERYTIME. She doesn’t eat the oyster shell. They don’t seem to like it. So, with some research I found this post and I am wondering if the chickens love the crushed egg shell and if it works well. Please let me know! I really hope you get this:) Thanks!!

    1. Melissa says:

      The egg shells are the only thing I give my ladies calcium and they eat it as needed… my best layer, also a barred rock, definitely notices when their are egg shells in their scraps (I feed them our kitchen scraps daily) and will pick them out first thing. I say it’s totally worth the try! You don’t have any cost in it and it’s just a bit of time. I sure hope they love it 🙂 Let me know how it goes! Melissa

      PS Sometimes if the hens scratch around in their nesting boxes too much they move everything out of the way and then the egg hits the bottom of the wood box and gets a little crack in it. One of my hens in particular is tall (so her egg falls farther) and she is crazy about arranging the nest first. Could that be part of the problem?

    2. liz says:

      What are your thoughts about feeding your chickens their own egg shells? We have 8-10 chickens so they are getting more of each others than their own but have heard it is not ideal to feed them their own shells. Thanks.

    3. Melissa says:

      If the shells are washed and/or baked then it isn’t supposed to be an issue at all. I’ve been doing it for two years and it’s been great. I think that people say not to let them eat them is because if they just eat the plane shells then they can get a taste for it and then they can start eating their own eggs once they’ve laid which you don’t want. I have ever heard of health factors, more that you don’t want them to start eating the eggs that you want to be eating 🙂 What kind of chickens do you have?! How old are they?? Are you enjoying them? So glad to connect Liz!

  5. BeccaMarie says:

    I love that black and white chicken!

  6. Kate says:

    Look how bright the leftover yolks are! Im jealous I want chickens. Well. Minus all the hard work. 😉

    1. Melissa says:

      After they are big they are less work than our outdoor cats. I’m not kidding! Your kids will love them too…

  7. Mrs. J*F*G says:

    Hey Melissa! I nominated you for the Liebster award, check out my blog for the details!