How Long to Cook Egg Shells for Chickens to Eat?

Learn how to cook egg shells for chickens: from baking to serving, enhance their diet and health with this easy guide.

how long to cook egg shells for chickens

Raising backyard chickens means paying attention to their diet, especially when it comes to ensuring they receive enough calcium for strong eggshells and overall health. One cost-effective and eco-friendly solution lies right in your kitchen: eggshells. But how do you cook egg shells for feeding chickens? In this guide, I’ll share my method for turning leftover eggshells into a valuable calcium supplement, covering everything from the initial wash to the final offering in their coop. Whether dealing with issues due to lack of calcium or just aiming for a balanced diet for your flock, this process offers a straightforward way to provide your chickens with the additional calcium they need.

Why Calcium is Essential for Chickens

Calcium is an essential nutrient for chickens, mainly for laying hens. It’s vital for producing strong shells and maintaining overall health. Insufficient calcium can lead to weak, thin shells or shell-less eggs, posing risks to both egg quality and hen health. Beyond egg production, calcium supports the skeletal system, ensuring bone strength, which becomes increasingly important as chickens age. It also aids muscle contraction and nerve function, which is crucial for egg-laying and everyday activities.

How I Prepare and Cook Egg Shells for My Chickens 

egg shells in a bowl

1. Washing and Collecting

First, I always wash the eggshells right before cracking them to ensure they’re clean and free from potential bacteria. After they’re washed, I leave them in a large bowl. I keep collecting these shells until I have enough to fill a baking sheet.

I used the eggshells in the photo above to freeze dry eggs, so there are extra shells leftover.

2. Baking

egg shells on baking sheet

Once I’ve accumulated enough, I spread the eggshells out on a cookie sheet. I use parchment paper underneath whenever I remember to grab it, as it makes cleanup a breeze. Then, I bake them at 350°F for about 5-10 minutes, until you can start to smell them and see them turning a bit brown in areas. This not only dries them out completely, but it also sanitizes them, making them safe for my chickens to consume.

3. Crushing the Eggshells

crushed egg shells

After baking, I let the eggshells cool completely on my kitchen counter. Then, I crush them using a potato masher directly on the baking sheet until they’re anywhere from 1/2” – 1″ in size. This is the easiest and least messy method, so I have fewer dishes to clean up afterward. You could also use a rolling pin, wooden spoon, or anything that works best for you.

4. Feeding the Egg Shells to my Chickens

free choice eggshells and grit for chickens

I use a free-choice feeding strategy by placing the crushed eggshells in a separate container within their chicken coop. This allows the chickens to self-regulate their calcium intake, reducing the risk of calcium toxicity (particularly for roosters and pullets). 

5. Storing Crushed Eggshells

Keep the crushed eggshells in an airtight container, such as a mason jar, to keep them fresh and readily available.

Tips for Feeding Eggshells to Chickens

  • Don’t Mix with Chicken Feed: To avoid calcium toxicity, particularly in roosters and younger chickens, don’t mix crushed eggshells directly with chicken feed. This allows chickens to decide when they need an extra calcium boost.
  • Avoid crushing the eggshells into a fine powder using a food processor or blender. If the pieces are too small, they might pass through your chickens without being adequately absorbed. Instead, aim for larger, roughly 1/2 – 1” sized pieces for optimal absorption.
  • Use Oyster Shells as an Alternative: Crushed oyster shells are another natural source of calcium. I buy them from my local feed store when I don’t have as many eggs being laid, particularly throughout the winter. I offer them free choice. 
  • Don’t Feed Eggshells from Other Chickens or Store-Bought Eggs: To prevent the spread of diseases and avoid introducing contaminants, don’t feed your chickens eggshells from other flocks or those purchased from stores.


What are the benefits of feeding eggshells to chickens?

Feeding eggshells to chickens is beneficial because they’re packed with calcium, essential for ensuring they lay strong eggs and keep their bones healthy. This means you’re less likely to have problems with weak eggs that break too easily. Plus, it’s a smart way to reuse your kitchen scraps, cutting down on waste and skipping the need for store-bought calcium supplements. It’s a simple, natural way to boost their diet and keep your flock thriving.

Why do you bake eggshells for chickens? 

Baking eliminates potential pathogens and makes it easier to crush the shells so they no longer resemble eggs.

How often should you feed chickens eggshells? 

Offering them on a free-choice basis allows chickens to manage their calcium intake. 

Can chickens get too much calcium? 

Indeed, excess calcium can lead to various health issues, especially in non-laying hens and roosters. That’s why free-choice feeding is best.

Can roosters eat eggshells? 

Roosters don’t need a calcium supplement, as excessive calcium can actually harm them by affecting their kidney function, among other issues. So don’t mix eggshells into your chickens’ feed. Instead, offer eggshells on a free-choice basis so that those in your flock who need the extra calcium can consume it as needed.

What are some different ways to use eggshells?

Eggshells can be used in various ways in the garden and for household purposes:

  1. Soil Amendment: Crushed eggshells enrich garden soil with calcium carbonate, beneficial for calcium-loving plants like tomatoes and peppers.
  2. Seed Starters: Use halved eggshells as natural, biodegradable pots for starting seeds. Fill them with soil, plant your seeds, and then transplant them, shell and all, directly into your garden when they’re ready.
  3. Compost Boost: Adding eggshells to your compost provides a calcium boost, enriching the final compost used in your garden beds.
  4. Homemade Tooth Powder: Surprisingly, pulverized eggshells can be used as a base for homemade toothpowder. Their high calcium content may help remineralize teeth in a natural dental care routine. 

Conclusion: How Long to Cook Egg Shells for Chickens

chicken eating eggshells

Transforming your kitchen’s eggshells into a nutritious supplement for your chickens is not just about recycling; it’s about enriching your flock’s diet in the most natural way possible.

By following these simple steps, you’re ensuring your chickens get the calcium they crucially need for strong egg production and robust health. It’s a testament to how a little bit of effort and mindfulness can significantly impact the well-being of your feathered friends. So, the next time you crack an egg, think of it as the first step toward a healthier, happier flock.

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