How Eggshells Benefit Your Chickens
It seems a bit weird to feed your chickens eggs in general, but eggshells?
We may surprise you in telling you eggshells are a superfood for your chickens, for you, your pets, and the earth. Your chickens are producing a source of food that keeps on giving. There’s so much more to an egg than the egg yolk and whites.
Let’s take a look at why feeding chickens eggshells is beneficial. Are you ready to “crack” open the secret behind the egg?
The Composition & Anatomy of Eggshells
It’s pretty apparent that the hard eggshells serve to protect the contents as a chicken lays the egg. It also houses an embryo as it grows into a chick. So, how can eggshells possibly have beneficial uses other than a protective barrier?
The composition of an eggshell is rather interesting. The eggshell consists of the membrane and the calcified shell. In these two components, there are a host of beneficial elements!
- Calcium carbonate
In essence, eggshells are chambers chocked full of nutrients! But just how do all of these elements form to make the hard exterior of an egg?
Living tissue from within the chicken forms the egg from the yolk all the way to the exterior shell. While the egg forms inside the chicken, living tissue interacts with nano-structured minerals causing a process to occur called biomineralization. The combination of the living tissue and minerals begin to grow stiff until it is hard. For an egg, biomineralization provides a protective vessel and nutrients for a developing embryo.
So, now we have the biology of an eggshell out of the way, let’s look at how the various minerals and nutrients provide nutritional benefit to our chickens. Is it ok to feed chickens egg shells?
The Benefits of Feeding Eggshells to Chickens
What do you feed chickens for strong eggshells? You got it, eggshells!
Eggshells, in its natural form certainly aren’t ideal for giving to your chickens. Grinding them up into a fine powder is the recommended way to feed it to them. In fact, eggshell powder contains a much better natural source of calcium as compared to limestone. Eggshell powder is highly absorbable by chickens.
By adding eggshell powder to your chicken’s feed, you provide them with increased bone density and a significant improvement in egg-laying and egg quality.
Preparation of Eggshell Powder
So, how do you prepare eggshells for birds? It’s important that your eggshell powder is free from salmonella and other pathogens. Boiling the eggshells in water is the most effective way to accomplish this.
Items You’ll Need:
- Large Pot
- Newspaper or Paper Towels
- Blender or Food Processor
1 egg = 1 tsp. eggshell powder
- Place the eggshells into boiling water and allow to boil for 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and pour the eggshells into a colander and allow the water to drain.
- Spread the eggshells on newspaper or paper towels and allow them to dry thoroughly.
- Place the dry eggshells in a blender/food processor and grind them until they reach a powder consistency.
The powder can be stored in baggies inside the refrigerator and fed to your chickens daily.
Eggshells account for 250,000 tons of annual waste!
Other Uses for Eggshells
Most of us toss the eggshell into the trash once the egg is cracked and its contents emptied. That eggshell goes on to your local waste station where it, along with all of the other rubbish, gets buried into the ground. Eggshells take time to break down and are not readily biodegradable. Sustainability has been the goal of finding uses for eggshells. Some of these uses might surprise you!
Commercial Animal Feed Supplementation
Researchers conducted a study to try and find a way to use eggshells to reduce waste. By adding maltose, yeast extract, and sources of nitrogen to the eggshells, a bio-converted product was created. The resulting eggshell mixture is now a byproduct in animal feeds and fertilizer.
Eggshell powder combined with vitamins and minerals provides us with a form of calcium, which enhances our bone density. Studies indicate post-menopausal women greatly benefited from a one-year use of eggshell supplementation.
Soil Amendment for Gardening
Plant growth is encouraged by amending soil with crushed eggshells. Many plants have a preference for acidic soils. By adding eggshells, the calcium in the shells helps to maintain ideal pH levels in soils with high or low acidity. Eggshells are a far more economical means of an organic soil stabilizer compared to costly applications of lime and other commercial preparations.
Road Construction and Block Production
Yes, eggshells are being used to create stronger base soils in building roads! Eggshell powder acts as a binder when combined with soil. This soil mixture is used in constructing secondary roads. Alternatively, eggshells are also used as a sand replacement in the production of blocks.
To compare the strength of traditionally made blocks and blocks made with eggshells, both were simultaneously dropped from a height of 2 feet.
Sand blocks crumbled, whereas eggshell blocks had a minor crack!
Cosmetics and Pharmaceuticals
The collagen from the eggshell membrane provides us with a healthy supplementation to support and improve lung and bone health. They also relieve pain for connective tissue disorders. Eggshell collagen lends to skin hydration resulting in less wrinkling.
Eggshell collagen has been a small part of healing treatment for burns and cosmetic procedures where skin-like barriers are needed.
The Last “Cluck”
You’ll never look at an egg the same way you once did. You may even find yourself hesitating before tossing the eggshell into the garbage. If you have chickens, you have a free and healthy organic source of calcium for them and you! Isn’t nature amazing?