Friday, August 9, 2013

Raising Poultry - Using Egg Shells as a Feed Supplement

While there are feed supplements that can be readily purchased from your local feed store, they can increase the cost of raising your chickens. One of the items often lacking in a chicken’s diet is calcium and this can be easily fixed by feeding your chickens crushed egg shells. It is simple to do and can save you a few dollars. It will also solve the problem of eggs with weak shells that break or damage easily.

The first thing you will need to do is thoroughly rinse your egg shells after they've been cracked to remove any remnants of the egg. Once they've been rinsed, allow them to dry in a dish or bowl. Once dried, you can crush them by hand into small pieces and mix in with their grain. This will provide your chickens with the calcium they need to give your eggs strong shells.

Many times people worry about their chickens becoming egg eaters. If your chickens are getting the necessary calcium, this should not be a problem. In fact, a lack of calcium in their diet can actually create this problem with your chickens. Like any animal, they will seek out a source of the nutrients they require.

Chickens also have a natural defense mechanism when it comes to their eggs. They will instinctively protect their eggs from possible predators by eating cracked or damaged eggs in the nest. Cracked or damaged eggs are easily honed in on by predators and could result in the loss of all the eggs in the nest. To avoid this problem, it is a good practice to pick your eggs at least twice a day. This way you will be able to remove any weak or damaged eggs as quickly as possible.

Got egg shells?   
Staying above the water line!



Anonymous said...

Allowing your chickens to eat their own eggshells may cause them to become cannibalistic and devour their own eggs. Better to use oyster shell supplements available at feed stores. Just sayin'.

riverwalker said...

To: anon 11:02

I started raising chickens when I was 12 and sold yard eggs for 25 cents a dozen to make money. Saved enough to buy my first car.

I'm in my sixties now and have never had a problem with "egg eaters" other than chicken snakes.

Been using egg shells for a long time with no problems. If you are more comfortable buying the oyster shell supplement, then that is what I would recommend you do.


Practical Parsimony said...

I advocate giving eggshells to chickens on my blog all the time. For those who are fearful of egg-eating chickens, bake the egg shells until they start turning brown. We did this when we fed the egg shells to our dogs. They do not recognize the eggs when browned.

Why do you wash the eggshells when the goo inside is protein that could benefit the chickens? I never wash mine, and I have had no problems.

I buy nothing to feed to my hens. Commercial chicken feed with corn is the #1 reason chickens need antibiotics--said a PhD in Poultry Science at Auburn University.

Anonymous said...

We had trouble with our "Rhodies" eating their eggs. The folks at the feed & grain advised us to stop feeding eggshells to the birds...could be a breed thing, maybe.

riverwalker said...

To: Parsimony

We wash the egg shells as a hygiene thing. We keep several days worth of egg shells in a bowl or on a plate before they get crushed up...avoid ants and other crawlers that way.

Have never cooked the shells...just crushed them up real good by hand.


Julie said...

We don't cook our shells either, just crumble them up and add them to the compost. The chickens jump right in the compost pile to forage. While the compost is still in the house, it is in a bucket in the fridge (to avoid fruit flies mostly) so I don't worry about any hygiene issues there.

Parsimony, I'm interested to hear other methods of feeding chickens besides store bought food. In the Winters here, they never get enough to eat just from free-ranging - the only bugs they can find this time of year are the grubs and worms deep in the compost pile, really.

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