Supplementing Egg Shells

When you walk down the chicken keeping aisle at your local feed store, you will notice “Oyster Shells” as an added supplement. While we do have some on hand just in case, one bag lasts us a while because we decided to supplement crushed egg shells as our source of calcium for our girls.

While commercial feed contains calcium, the girls sometimes need that extra boost for their egg production. The quality of their egg shells depend on it. Lately, because the majority of our girls are just starting to lay their first eggs, we have been noticing more and more soft shelled eggs in our nesting boxes and on the “poop tray”. So we decided to do a post about what we do about it.

imageFirst, we collect egg shells in a bowl. You can either let them dry naturally or place them in the oven to dry. I suggest the oven not only because it’s quicker, but less chance of any bacteria growing on the shells as it could take a while for them to dry naturally. Then, crush the snot out of them! Make sure they are not in any way, shape or form recognizable as an egg. You don’t want to promote egg eating! In the crushed state, they don’t know that they are eating recycled egg shells. (This is a great “job” for the kids! Our son loves to crush the eggs.)

When they are ready for consumption, you want to make sure you offer it as a freestanding food and not mixed in with their feed. Calcium is one of those supplements that the chicken should know whether or not they need. We try to give it to our girls once a week. If you notice extra calcium building up on the eggs they are laying, back off. Chickens are also known to be gluttons. 😉

Get the kids involved! They will love the "job" of crushing egg shells!

Get the kids involved! They will love the “job” of crushing egg shells!

 

Homesteading Tip: Egg shells are also great for compost! So make sure to save some for that too!

 

Finally! Our First Egg!

Those who keep chickens knows how torturous it is waiting for that first egg. They also know how rewarding it is when that first egg arrives! Being zero degrees the past few days and a couple of major snow storms blowing our way, I was not expecting any eggs from our younger chickens until at least March, even though they just turned 18 weeks this week. Heck, one of our older girls (our drama queen White Cochin, Hildegard) has completely stopped laying for the winter.

Jolie the Turken

Jolie the Turken

So when I found our Naked Neck Turken hiding out in one of the nesting boxes this morning, I pretty much played it off as her hiding from the rest of them with no where else to go since there was over a foot of snow outside and they have been “cooped up” for a couple of days now. (She seems to be the lowest in the pecking order from what I can tell) But low and behold! Thirty minutes later there was a tiny egg in that box! Still warm! So unless one of the other girls laid their first egg and she just decided to sit on it for a bit to see what it was like, I’m saying she’s first out of the ten youngins to lay their first egg. Congrats Jolie!

Lucas Holding the Turken egg

Lucas Holding the Turken egg

Side by Side with a Barred Rock egg

Side by Side with a Barred Rock egg

Correction 2/4/2015: they are actually 20 weeks old. My math was off!