Chickens can eat crab shells just fine. If you’re eating fresh crab, it’s a great way to recycle the shells and reduce wastage. They’re high in calcium, which is great for laying hens and helps them produce healthy eggs.
If you can spare some crab too, even better. Crab meat is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as a wide range of vitamins and minerals.
Is It Safe to Feed Chickens Crab Shells?
I’ve looked into this in great detail because I’m one to err on the side of caution when it comes to what I do or don’t offer my chickens.
I can find a couple of people who say they don’t want to feed their chickens crab shells due to the risk of them not being able to digest the shells.
However, there is an overwhelming number of people that say they do and have fed their chickens’ crab shells for a long time without any issues,
So, I’m on the side that says it’s safe. You may want to crush the shells up or make sure there are no large sharp bits. But your chickens are going to peck away and eat parts that they’re able to eat.
Not only is it safe, but I couldn’t find a single person that said their chickens didn’t gobble up the shells in a hurry.
Although, as anyone raising backyard chickens will know, it’s hard to find something chickens don’t munch up in a hurry!
Why Feed Your Chickens Crab Shells?
Obviously, your chickens would love to get hold of some tasty crab. So, if you can spare some crab too, they’ll be more than happy I’m sure.
There isn’t a lot of crab to go around when eating it from the shell though, so I don’t blame you for not sharing much. We all spoil our hens, but fresh crab might be going a step too far!
The best thing about giving chickens the shells is that it’s a way to reduce wastage. A lot like the other table scraps we hand over to our chooks.
Plus, crab shells – and this applies to most seafood shells like oysters and lobsters – are rich in calcium. A key nutrient laying hens require to lay eggs on a regular basis with strong shells.
In fact, laying hens require as much as 4-5 grams of calcium per day when laying regularly. While they should get this from a layer feed, it doesn’t harm to give them some more.
Additional tip – If there is some shell left over after your chickens have had their fill, which I will admit is unlikely, then you can use the remaining shell for composting materials or plant food in your garden.
Related – Can chickens eat lobster shells?
How to Feed Backyard Chickens A Balanced Diet
It’s not hard to provide chickens with a balanced diet. The bulk of a chickens’ diet will come from a quality commercial feed.
Commercial feeds typically come in pelleted form, and they’re specially formulated to provide all the nutrition a chicken needs to maintain optimal health and lay regular, tasty eggs.
Feeds generally comprise mostly of grains like oats, maize, sunflower seeds, wheat, and some other ingredients. All the good stuff chickens would happily find and eat given the chance.
In addition to their feed, you can also give your flock table scraps, leftovers, and other foods you don’t want.
You should always check if a food is safe for them, and never give your chickens any foods in a state you wouldn’t eat.
You’ll find most foods are fine. There are some common foods that are potentially toxic that may come as a surprise.
Avocado skins, green potatoes, some nightshades, and raw beans come to mind. It’s always worth double-checking before feeding your flock something for the first time. You can see a longer list of foods chickens can’t eat here.
Fruits and vegetables are a couple of the healthiest food groups to give chickens and are an easy way to add some variety to their diet while providing a wide range of vitamins and minerals.
In Summary – Can Chickens Eat Crab Shells?
Chickens can eat crab shells. In fact, they provide a decent amount of calcium, which is a key nutrient laying hens need daily to keep laying eggs at their best.
My advice is to crush the shells up and give them to your chickens as you would grit. See if they like it, chances are they will.
Image credits – Photos by Étienne Godiard and Mae Mu on Unsplash