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Myths About Feeding your Chickens Eggshells

I would like to  clear  up some common myths about feeding your chickens eggshells.

Even chickens fed the best-quality layer feed will benefit from being offered a calcium supplement to ensure strong shells on the eggs they lay. 

Crushing eggshells and feeding them back to your chickens is the easiest, most economical way to give your girls some extra calcium.

The process is simple and easy, but there are a few myths and misconceptions out there. So first here are a few clarifications - and then I'll share my simple method. 

I find that too many backyard chicken keepers are over-complicating things when it comes to feeding their chickens eggshells.

Myths About Feeding your Chickens Eggshells 

Myth: Feeding your chickens crushed eggshells will lead to "unauthorized" egg eating 

I don't agree with this at all, and my 12-plus years of raising chickens and feeding eggshells to them supports my theory. 

I actually think that by feeding your chickens eggshells it helps prevent egg eating by providing them extra calcium, so they don't go looking for it on their own.

I feed my chickens dried and crushed eggshells, eggshell halves, raw eggs, cooked eggs, you name it. They love it all and have never once been tempted to go breaking the eggs in their nests.

Myth: The eggshells need to be baked or microwaved 

There's nothing on the eggshells of eggs that your chickens lay that your chickens haven't already been exposed to....I just let them air dry on a paper towel after cracking them.

However, if you feed your chickens shells from store bought eggs (which I don't really recommend anyway - see below), they should be baked to kill any bacteria.

Myth: It's okay to feed your chickens shells from store bought eggs or a friend or neighbor's chickens 

Those shells might contain bacteria that your chickens' systems aren't used to and could make them sick, so I don't recommend it.

Myth: The eggshells should be pulverized 

The eggshells you feed your chickens should be left in fairly good-sized pieces. 

Realistically, your chickens will break larger pieces up, but if you're concerned, and so the shells don't actually resemble eggs, crush them to 1/2" sized or so. 

Pieces smaller than that will pass through your chickens' systems too fast and not be absorbed as well as larger pieces.

Myth: Eggshell should be mixed right into your chickens' feed

Shell should always be fed free-choice in a container separate from the feed so each chicken will eat as much or as little as she needs (and roosters and not-yet-laying pullets) won't eat any.  

If you mix the shells into their feed, you're just going to find that you end up going through way more than is necessary. You'll save money by filling a small dispenser and hanging it in your coop or run.

I like to just fill a soup ladle with the crushed eggshells (or oyster shell when I don't have any eggshells) for my hens to pick at when they want.

Feeding your Chickens Eggshells

This is the method I use to feed eggshells to my chickens.

1. After rinsing the eggs under warm running water and cracking them into the bowl or frying pan, I toss the empty shells into the sink.

2. After we're done eating, I rinse the shells under running water and pull out the membrane. (Totally, optional, but I find the shells dry faster and crush better with the membrane removed.)

3. Then I let the shells dry on the counter on a paper towel.

4. Once the water has dried off the shells, they go into a bowl on the kitchen counter for a few days until they're brittle.

5. Once the shells are dry and brittle, I simply crush them with my fingers into fairly small pieces and then store them in a canister or mason jar. 

When the dispenser in the coop is empty, I refill it from my stash in the kitchen.

If I am going to be feeding the eggshells to my hens right afterwards along with other kitchen scraps, I'll just toss the eggshell halves right into my "chicken bowl" next to the stove with other trimmings, no need to wash or crush them or anything.

And it's as easy as that.  No baking, nuking, rolling pin or coffee grinder needed. And you've got a simple, free and easy source of additional calcium for your chickens!

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