Save Those Eggshells!
Save those eggshells! Crushed eggshells contain loads of valuable calcium your hens need to lay eggs with super thick shells, and your chickens will love eating them 🤩
We toss our unwashed eggshells in a large container to air dry in a sunny window. Every few weeks I lightly press the dried pile down.
Once the container is full, batch-bake the shells to sterilize. This method of baking is faster than washing your shells every morning prior to air drying them in the bowl.
After baking, I take a glass and crush up the shells to the consistency you can see in the mason jars pictured. You don't want to scratch up your blender or create a powder too fine for the chickens to eat, and crushing shells via a glass goes quite quickly.
For feeding - we have a separate feeder we put the shells in so our hens can eat them free-choice. If we do ever have a hen who starts laying thin shells I'll mix a heavy ratio into their feed 🌿
For quail - I'll grind shells to a powder using an old blender (which is now scratched to pieces but still perfectly functional) and mix with a small amount of water. I pack the damp mixture into a little feeder dish to let air-dry. This creates a solid 'calcium block' which the quail really enjoy eating from, free choice.
The alternative to recycling your eggshells is to buy oyster shells, or calcium grit, but I like the idea of a sustainable closed loop, and getting into the habit of reusing what you already have.
Serious problems can arise if your hen's eggshells are becoming thin - production layers being most at risk for this. Thin shells can let bacteria in, for starters. Your chicken may also start pulling calcium from their bones, resulting in brittle leg bones as they age. Paper-thin shells can break inside your hen as she prepares to lay. This material can collect and cause fatal infections.
Gross! But - the more you know, right? Reuse those shells, chicken friends!