Wondering how to feed oyster shells to chickens?
If you're raising backyard chickens, then I'm sure you know that oyster shells are an important part of your chickens' diet.
But if you're not sure why they need oyster shells or how to feed them to your chickens, hopefully, I can clear all of that up for you!
Why Chickens Need Oyster Shells in Their Diet
Oyster shells are a great source of calcium for chickens.
A lack of calcium can lead to problems such as weak bones and egg binding.
So, it's important that your chickens have access to oyster shells in order to maintain good health.
On one hand, chickens should be getting enough calcium from their feed. But supplementing their diet with oyster shells is a simple way to enrich their diet.
Chickens will only eat what they need, so you don't need to worry about giving them too much calcium.
Therefore, it's better to offer them a good source of calcium like oyster shells. My hunch is that you'll soon notice your hens gobble up a fair amount, so it's a good thing to do.
Related - Benefits of crab and lobster shells for chickens.
How Do You Make Oyster Shells for Chickens?
If you're wondering how to make oyster shells for chickens, it's actually quite simple.
You can pick up oyster shells at most stores, and they're very inexpensive. Alternatively, if you can collect some empty oyster shells that's even better.
You may even be able to get a free source of shells from a local restaurant as they tend to discard shells after serving oysters.
When you have some shells, give the shells a good rinse and then put them in a sunny spot to dry out for a few days.
Once they're dry, put the shells into a bag and break them up into tiny pieces using a hammer.
It's as easy as that!
Alternatively, you can buy oyster shell supplements or bags of already dried and crushed shells online.
Which, let's be honest here, is a much more convenient option.
How to Feed Oyster Shells to Chickens
When it comes to feeding oyster shells to your chickens, as with most foods chickens want to eat - it's not difficult.
The easiest way is to simply offer the oyster shells in a dish near their feed. Your chickens will peck at them as they need and eat what they need.
As long as you've crushed them up into small pieces, there is nothing more to it. If your chickens have seen the shells, they'll eat them!
How Much Oyster Shell Should I Give My Chickens?
There is no set rule as to how much oyster shell you should give your chickens.
Some people recommend giving them a handful of shells per bird, while others say that a couple of tablespoons per bird is sufficient.
I would start with a small amount and then offer more if they're gobbling it up. It's always better to err on the side of too little than too much.
It's not like the shells will spoil or perish quickly, so you can keep their feeder topped up without too much concern.
Related - Here's why it's important chickens get grit in their diet.
How to Feed Chickens a Balanced Diet
So, now you know all about why chickens need oyster shells in their diet and how to feed them.
But, what about the rest of their diet?
Chickens need a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods in order to stay healthy.
This includes fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, and protein-rich foods like insects, meat scraps, and fish.
You should also give your chickens quality store-bought chicken feed which will provide them with all the nutrients they need.
A good way to ensure your chickens are getting a balanced diet and plenty of variation to keep them interested is to rotate their food sources.
This means that you'll offer them different types of food on different days.
For example, on Monday you might give them fresh fruit and vegetables, on Tuesday you might give them some insects to feast on, and so on.
Doing this not only keeps your chickens healthy and happy, but it also helps to prevent boredom.
Feeding chickens is one of the most fun and rewarding parts of raising backyard chickens (for me at least), have fun with it!
Oyster shells are a great way to enrich your chickens' diet and provide them with valuable calcium.
Offering oyster shells is easy - you can either give them a dish of shells to peck at, or mix them in with their regular feed.
You don't need to worry about giving your chickens too much calcium as they can't overdose on it!