Growing up with chickens I know we gave them calcium supplements from time to time. I remember the bags of oyster shells. That’s not something we’ve had to worry about much with our birds. I sometimes wonder if it means there’s more calcium in the soil (and thus the plants) that our Vermont birds forage for all summer.

But in the winter sometimes the birds get thin egg shells. There is calcium in their pellet food, but it can be a good idea to give them additional calcium, which they can choose to eat if needed. Instead of buying oyster shells Neil and I decided to try something different.


Eggshells. Clearly this is why the layers need so much calcium. Why not give it back to them when we’re done with those eggs? First I dried the shells at 200F in my oven for about an hour. Then I put them all in a plastic bag and crushed them up fine.

crushing eggshells

This does several things. Cooking the eggshells dries up any remaining moisture, and probably should kill any bacteria*. Crushing them makes it easier for the birds to eat. It also makes the shells not look like egg shells anymore. The last thing I want to do is give my birds the idea of eating eggs…

crushed eggshells

All those eggshells above (about 2 weeks’ worth at 4 eggs a day, so maybe 50 eggshells total) gave me somewhere between 1 and 2 cups of calcium supplement. Which I put in a tray (separate from their food) over by where the birds like to lay their eggs. We’ll see if they like it, or just spill it everywhere…

*not that there should be any bacteria since we wash them when they come in from the coop. But it can’t hurt.


4 responses to “calcium

  1. Wow, good idea! I remember when I had a parrot, one of the birdie bread recipes I used called for eggs with the shells left on to give added calcium, but it never would have occurred to me to save egg shells and use them alone for the same purpose. Brilliant!

  2. I just put well crushed eggs in with my food scraps that they get daily,

    • That works too! If it were me I’d be careful to crush them really well so the chickens don’t learn to eat eggs. I’ve had chickens learn to break open their own eggs and eat the whole thing. And that’s no good…

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