Chicken calcium from their own shells

Producing eggs takes a lot of calcium and so chickens need some kind of calcium supplement. You can buy oyster shells but this costs money and why spend money when we have loads of egg shells that we don’t do anything with. So instead of throwing them in the compost bin I save them up and give them back to my chooks. I do it this way to reduce the chance of my girls seeing these as eggs and so hopefully won’t start eating their own eggs.
Here’s how we do it; I save my egg shells rather than just throwing them in the compost bin. When I have a clutch of shells and I’ve already got the oven on I spread the shells on a baking tray. I pop the shells in the oven the temperature doesn’t matter nor does the time. However 5-10 minutes seems to be enough or longer if you forget (like I did today). You want to dry the shells out so they are easy to break up.
Then pass the shells to your three year old to smash up with a hammer. Or if you don’t have a three year old just crush the eggs with your hand/ hammer/ spoon whatever you like.
Then get same said three year old to finely crush the shells with a mortal and pestle.
I crushed them finely into small particles.
I poured the crushed shells into a plastic dish (I used a leftover cream cheese container). I then added some holes to the dish and used cable ties to secure the dish to the side of the chicken coop.
I was worried the shells would blow away but I couldn’t believe how dense the crush shells were. I’ve seen the girls eating small amount of the shells as they need them. I’ve baked some more egg shells tonight so I can fill the container again tomorrow. I love that I’m not throwing out one item only to buy another item. No waste here. How do you provide extra calcium to your girls?


Update 04/09/2013; I can’t believe how much calcium/ eggs the girls go through! Though it is to be eggpected since all four are laying (pretty much) everyday. Hard work! I now save all their shells to cook up and crush. I don’t give them eggs from other chooks it doesn’t feel right and I’m worried about introducing bacteria or something better to be safe I feel.

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8 thoughts on “Chicken calcium from their own shells

  1. Angela Allan
    August 24, 2013 at 3:43 am

    Thanks for sharing this fantastic idea. We are in the process of getting more chickens as we have had a break for a few months but love this idea of reusing their own shells. I had thought of it, but was not sure actually how to do it without them thinking it was their eggs!

  2. August 24, 2013 at 6:42 am

    We give them pipi, cockle and crayfish shells from our fishing. Ours must be the most gritty chickens in NZ I think.

    1. August 25, 2013 at 10:11 am

      Greta way to use up waste. Well done. How do you give them the shells? I guess they are cooked when you cook them to eat the shellfish then grind them? Thanks Mx

  3. August 24, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Excellent idea. As our girls can get at the compost if they really try (and they do) I am wary of putting the shells in the compost to avoid encouraging egg eating.

    1. August 25, 2013 at 10:12 am

      I totally hear you on this. though if you cook and grind them I don’t think it’ll be a problem. From what I’ve read it becomes a problem when they see them as egg ie whole I guess so if you were putting them in the compost make sure you crush them first so they don’t recognise them. Mx

  4. August 25, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Forget the compost. They have a nice little bowl of eggshells, freshly baked and crushed. They seem quite happy!

  5. Honora Renwick
    January 14, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    Yes, I offered to give the lovely neighbour who sells me eggs back her own shells but she declined. I was a bit surprised. I used to save them up for a girlfriend who had her own chooks. Now I crush them up and place them on the planter when naughty slugs are having a go at the seedlings.