Calcium for chickens? Yes, actually, chickens need calcium. It’s important for their egg production. Hens without enough of it in their diets can lay soft or no shell eggs. Fortunately, it’s easy and inexpensive to add calcium to their diets.
First, if you have laying hens, make sure you’re feeding them layer feed. This will automatically contain higher levels of calcium. But that alone is not enough. It’s best to also supplement their diet with additional calcium. This can be done in more than one way. There is commercial calcium for hens at any feed store. This generally consists of coarsely ground lime or oyster shells and comes in various sized bags.
Placing small containers of calcium (and also one of grit) in the chicken run allows the chickens to eat as much calcium as they want, when they need it. Their bodies will tell them how much.
Another option is to use the hen’s egg shells. To do this, it’s important to bake the shells first. This will kill any lurking bacteria in the shells, change the flavor of the shells (so that your hens won’t get any ideas about pecking their own eggs after they’ve tasted the shells), and also softens them a bit.
Baking egg shells is easy. Just place them on a cookie sheet and bake for around 30 minutes with an oven set to 225 degrees. When they’re done, place them in a large bag and crush with a rolling pin. Now, they’re ready to serve.
Some chicken owners say never to feed shells to your chickens for fear of them eating their own eggs. I’ve never had that problem though. The crushed shells are so popular with my hens, I mix them with oyster shell to make them last longer. And still, even with their popularity, I haven’t had to deal with them eating their eggs before I can get to them. Once the egg shells are baked and crushed, I don’t think they make the connection to the eggs they lay in their nest boxes.
Egg shells are a great source of calcium for chickens and I love the fact that they’re recycled. Since becoming a chicken person, I understand the preciousness of each egg that’s laid, so it’s wonderful to be able to use the whole egg, not just the insides.