Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Feeding egg shells to chickens...

At work today, we made a Salmon and Dill frittata - for 150 people! That used a heck of a lot of eggs and left a heck of an amount of eggs shells to go into the bin, too! I decided that I could do something with them and rescued them into a bucket and bought them home.

I normally crush up our egg shells and give 'em back to the chooks or they go in the compost, but this time I thought I'd have a proper look at whether it was a good idea to feed egg shells back to chooks or not. A quick google search later and it seems that it is and that we humans have been feeding shells back to chickens for thousands of years. (Phew - I'm in the majority)

Chooks need a lot of calcium to lay an egg each day and although commercial laying pellets, mash and grain have calcium and all these other vitamins and minerals, I occasionally put my finger through a shell still. So I'm thinking an extra bit of calcium probably wont go astray. I also think that they will ignore it if they don't need it and go in search of what they do need instead.

So armed with four dozen egg shells to make my calcium supplement, Here's what I did...

I didn't bother rinsing them - just used them as is.

Then I crushed them one at a time onto an oven tray

Like so! The inner membrane holds them altogether in big lumps. Don't worry about this too much. Once they go into the oven, the membrane will dry up and the shells will get crushed again once they are out.

I pooped them into a 350 degree oven for about 5-10 minutes.

Once they had set off the fire alarm... I took them out of the oven and crushed them up further with a spoon. If they are still in gooey clumps, turn the oven down to about 250 degrees and leave them in for another couple of minutes, checking occasionally to see if they have dried out enough.

Then I crushed them into a takeaway container - as fine as I could be bothered

And popped them next to the grain bowl in the little chicken pen - no chicken wanted to be photographed eating my offering as it was nearly bedtime and they were having a quick drink before going to bed!

In the big pen, I put the egg shell in the top of the nesting box on the ground. They are curious enough and when they finish the lettuce that I threw into the pen before I put my egg shell mixture, I'm sure they will have a quick peck. I don't think they will be able to scratch dirt and leaves into it at this height either.

This is the best link I have seen to get some more information about egg shell drying and feeding to chooks. Much of what Jill says, I agree with and already do! Rather than repeat everything she wrote - have a look and see what you think.

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 very green to reuse a naturally occurring "waste" product to get new eggs!
Frugal-ness: 5/5 Free is always frugal!
Time cost: About 10 minutes. It took me longer to blog it than to do it!
Skill level: Crushing and mashing skills!
Fun -ness: Good fun to make a useful free chicken supplement!


livingsimplyfree said...

I don't have chooks, but I had to laugh that you use your smoke alarm as a timer. I crush mine up as best as I can then mix them either in the compost or directly into the garden beds in the fall to let them decompose.

Practical Frog said...

If you want to crush them up even finer than you can do by hand - try baking them first. I was suprised how fine I could crush them once the membrane was dried off themin the oven! Glad you like my kitchen timer! - K xx

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