I don’t advise buying a ton of oysters from the market merely to create oyster shell feed at home. That won’t be economical. Do this just if you adore oysters and want to do it to consume them.
Some fortunate people reside in places where there are plentiful sources of free oyster shells. As a result, you will need to spend significantly less on chicken feed.
Before giving the oyster shells to your flock, you must carefully prepare them.
- Oyster shells should be thoroughly cleaned before being laid out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
- The shells should bake for 10 minutes at 250 degrees F. Any mold spores or other diseases on the oysters are eliminated by baking the shells.
- After baking, place the cookies in a bag with two or three layers of lining, and begin to pound them with a hammer. A hammer works great, but if you want a powder consistency, add them to your food processor after. It’s also enjoyable.
Locate a different oyster shell feeder.
- Similar to grit, crushed oyster shell ought to be provided to the flock separately, in a different container. Chickens automatically take only what they require. Nobody will touch it if they don’t need to.
- It’s acceptable to use an open feeder or bowl that isn’t meant for grain. Grit won’t attract rodents or predators to the run because they don’t consume it.
Giving oyster shell in a different container guarantees that everyone who requires it receives it.
Finally, keep in mind that your flock should receive both oyster shell and grit. They fulfill two distinct roles, both of which are essential for the wellbeing of your hens.
Eggshell crushing, baking, and storage
We store the egg shells after each usage in a container in the back of the refrigerator. We don’t bother cleaning them after cracking before storage because keeping them chilled minimizes bacterial development. Then, we make a sizable batch once every two months or so. Baking in bulk is considerably less of a headache and a regular duty when you wait to do it.
On a baking sheet or cookie sheet, spread the shells out. We use an inexpensive pan from a thrift shop that is specifically designed for eggshells because they can get a little caught and be troublesome to clean. The shells should bake for 5 to 10 minutes at 300°F. For a smaller batch or when they’re already on the dry side, we usually do around 5 minutes, and for a larger batch or when they’re still pretty wet, we do a little longer. Take the food out of the oven and let it cool.
Then, smash the shells into the desired consistency for your hens. Some people almost powderize them by grinding them very finely. Our research has shown that our girls prefer to pick at slightly bigger pieces—roughly the size of uncooked oatmeal flakes.
Find a method that works for you to physically smash the shells. You could make it right on the pan, in a jar, bowl, coffee grinder, food processor, or even with a mortar and pestle if you wanted to! The cooked shells are often placed in a special, previously used, large ziplock bag, and the bag’s contents are crushed with a rolling pin or our hands. Doing the same in an old pillowcase or cloth bag is a zero-waste, plastic-free option, and that’s what I intend to do with the following batch!
Finally, we place the jars of chilled crushed eggshells in the refrigerator. We restock their tiny plates outside as needed so they never go hungry.
How Much and How Often Do You Use Grit and Oyster Shells?
The best technique is to place a bowl of each dish out on the table. I have a divided feeder with one side for grit and the other for oyster shell attached to the coop wall.
The chickens can then help themselves if they feel like they need either or both of the products. It’s not a good idea to add oyster shells to the feed, as some people do.
A renal condition brought on by too much calcium might be fatal. The hens will self-regulate and take care of themselves.
It’s also better to let the hen control how much grit she eats on her own. As we previously stated, a little grit can go a long way, allowing the hen to “top up” as necessary.
You can create your own supplement if you have leftover oyster shells. Then, when the pieces are tiny enough, repeatedly run your automobile over the shells in a burlap bag (known as a croaker bag on the coast) to remove any remaining salt. If you missed a crossfit workout, you could potentially use a sledgehammer to smash the bags.
How may oyster shells be fed to chickens?
A hen’s body requires more calcium during the laying period in order to produce eggs with robust shells. However, if not all of your chickens are laying during the laying season, giving the flock a larger amount of calcium could cause issues. Because of this, we think it is preferable to include our Cluckin’ Good Oyster Shell as a separate addition to the feed as opposed to including it in our Naturally Free Organic Layer or Organic Layer with Corn. The extra calcium source can be left alone by non-laying hens by placing the oyster shell in a separate dish and placing it to the side of the meal so that birds can eat it “free choice.”
Our layer feeds are full rations with an adequate amount of calcium for the typical laying hen. But because each hen is unique, their calcium requirements may change over time. If they don’t get enough calcium in their food and they need it, their bodies will take it from their bones. When oyster shell and limestone are added to feeds, non-laying chickens may consume more calcium than their bodies actually require. The extra calcium that isn’t used to make eggshells when a hen isn’t laying must be processed by the kidneys. Their kidneys may become strained from the additional work. Too much calcium in the diet of hens that are laying eggs can lead to eggshells with excess calcium deposits on the outside of the eggs.
Chickens will only eat what they need if given the chance to consume oyster shell free choice rather than having it blended into their feed. Simply said, they won’t consume the oyster shell if they aren’t currently laying any eggs. Amazing self-regulators include chickens!
Our Cluckin’ Good Oyster Shell is specifically flaked to a size that is easy to ingest, and the calcium in oyster shell is readily available for laying hens’ bodies to absorb. Additionally, even though Vitamin D is present in our feeds, letting your flock free range guarantees that they may take the calcium from Vitamin D from the sun. Chickens need Vitamin D to absorb calcium. Additionally, allowing them to roam freely allows them to get some exercise, hunt for bugs, and eat healthy greens. The best eggs, in our opinion, are produced by healthy, content hens!
Start by giving your flock our nutritionally sound diets, and if needed, add calcium supplements like Cluckin’ Good Oyster Shell. You’ll get to enjoy the eggs you adore and your birds will be able to eat what they require.
Why are oyster shells beneficial to chickens?
In order to ensure that your hens have adequate calcium to lay robust eggshells that are better able to keep bacteria out and help increase the safety of farm fresh eggs, you may add oyster shells to your chicken layer feed. The Oyster Strong(r) System, found only in Purina(r) premium and organic chicken layer diets, increases egg strength.
An egg once managed to support a 200-pound man’s weight. Farm fresh eggs are little in size, yet they pack a powerful punch. Growing chicks have a place to live in their shells, which also protect yolks from harmful germs. But how can such security be provided by a structure that is only 0.3 millimeters thick? Design is the key to the solution.
Buildings have been fashioned after the dome throughout time since it is the shape that best represents egg strength. A dome provides both strength and protection, yet any pressure placed on its top causes the entire structure to sway. The egg is one of nature’s best designs thanks to this basic ability.
Oyster shells can hens eat them?
The calcium in oyster shell is essential for the chickens. It not only ensures that the eggs have a nice hardshell, but it also guarantees that the hen has strong, healthy bones.
When a hen’s calcium level is extremely low, it can lead to damaged bones, most notably in the feet and legs from jumping up and down to perches.
Grit is not nutritionally valuable in of of itself, yet the bird cannot digest food without it. By reducing the meal to a thick paste, the grit aids in releasing all of the nutrients from it.
There may not be enough grit in the gizzard, which can result in a sour crop (see our article). The food consumed by a chicken is stored in the crop for subsequent digestion.
If there isn’t enough grit to process the food, it will start to decay and give your hen a sour crop.
For the bird to metabolize and obtain nutrition from the food, the grit must be held in the gizzard.
It is stated that a hen may survive without grit if she only consumes food, but since our backyard hens enjoy foraging and consuming a variety of seeds, greens, and bugs, grit is essential for our ladies.
When should I feed oyster shells to my chickens?
- The majority of hens begin to lay when they are 20 to 21 weeks old. Just before they are expected to begin laying eggs, at roughly 18 weeks, oyster shell should be provided.
- Do not succumb to the temptation to administer more calcium supplements in any form before that. It might harm the developing chicken’s kidneys.
- Roosters (cockerels) and hens not currently producing eggs do not require supplemental calcium. Don’t stress about sorting out who needs what. They will automatically know to accept it as and when they need it if you freely offer it to them (i.e., make it always available).
- All year round, make it accessible to your flock. In the winter, chickens will simply reduce the amount of oyster shell they consume if they aren’t laying as much.
What can you make out of discarded oyster shells?
You’ve just finished devouring a platter of delectable oysters, and the plate is now covered in shells. Here are various alternatives to trashing your used oyster shells for usage or disposal. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to everyone who submitted us suggestions, as many of these came from our online community.
Calcium carbonate, also known as chalk, which makes up the majority of oyster shells, can help buffer soil acidity and supply plants and microorganisms with essential calcium. Additionally, the oyster shell’s texture aids in preventing soil compaction, which can enhance soil aeration. Compost, soil amendments, and mulch can all be made from oyster shells. Just be sure to disinfect the oyster shells by boiling them before using them in your garden. Your oyster shells’ efficacy as a soil component and in compost can be increased by crushing them.
Did you know that Americans use oyster shells to line driveways and even the walks by their homes? Oysters can be a stunning, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly landscape item that even works to stop erosion.
Beautiful wreaths, decorations, and ornaments can be made from cleaned oyster shells. The robust shells are useful for a number of crafts, and the smooth interior shell is ideal for painting.
You might think about contacting an oyster shell recycling organization if you consume a lot of oysters (or if you purchased one of our bulk CSA add-ons). Programs for raising oysters, like the Mass Oyster Project, gather and clean the shells before using them to plant seeds for new oyster beds. The Mass Oyster Project and shell recycling may be read more about here.
What other ideas do you have for using your oyster shells? Comment below and let us know!