Laying hens require a lot of calcium to produce strong eggshells, and if they have an insufficient amount, they will leach calcium from their bones, which can lead to breaks, so it’s important to give your flock calcium supplements.
On another note, remember chicks don’t need extra calcium because it can actually damage their kidneys. Starter-grower has the appropriate amount of calcium for chickens that aren’t laying (chicks and roosters), and they typically know not to eat the calcium supplements by instinct, just like the hens seem to know how much to eat in order to get the right amount of nutrients.
Typically, your local feed store will sell crushed oyster shell. Oyster shell is the commercial calcium supplement for chickens. It works, and I do recommend it, but I find that feeding back eggshells used in the kitchen works just as well. Feeding eggshells doesn’t turn your chickens into egg-eaters, either, as many do believe. In fact, it discourages egg eating as the need to eat the eggs for calcium is gone as your flock are now getting the proper nutrients needed. Yep, it’s that simple!
I like to keep all the eggshells from the morning breakfast or a bake I was ambitious enough to do and feed them back to my girls as I feel they need. I typically use about half a dozen eggs or less a day, and currently only 7 of my girls are laying as the other 7 are still littles… Despite my efforts, the littles will occasionally get some eggshell if they feel curious, and a little is fine. It’s when they eat all the eggshell single-handedly that you should be concerned.
When getting to feed the eggshells back to your flock, rinse the shells under water and peel out the membranes in the egg. Removing the membranes is optional, but I like to do it because the eggs crush much easier and dry faster without the membranes. It doesn’t take long, and in my eyes it’s worth it, but it’s up to you!
On a final note, feeding the eggshells back to your flock is a super easy and efficient way to give your girls the calcium they require, and it saves you money. Oyster shell isn’t cheap, that’s for sure! Anyways, I hope you decide to feed your chickens eggshells if you haven’t yet, and remember that they really do like the shells! I’ve done a little ‘taste-test,’ if you will, and my chickens chose the eggshells over the oyster shells. I had my little moment feeling like a scientist as I watched them chose eggshells multiple times, not going to lie… To end this, I hope your girls enjoy eggshells like mine do, and be sure to tag me in pictures of your girls on Instagram (@dancingwchickens) so I can see! Enjoy!
Dancing with Chickens