Eggshells are entirely compostable. However, instead of throwing them into the compost bin, why not try recycling your chicken eggshells and feed them back to your flock? They are a great source of calcium for your flock and you can’t beat the price, free.
Start by leaving the larger cracked egg shells intact and drying them completely on low heat (200 degrees F.) in your oven on a baking sheet for about 1 hour. It is important to bake them to kill off bacteria or mold that still may be present and that can harm your flock.
Once completely dried, place them on newspaper. Then use a rolling pin to crush them into smaller than a dime, bite size pieces for your chickens. Crushing them ensures that your chickens will no longer recognize them as eggs. This is important because you do not want your chickens to start eating their freshly laid eggs as a source of calcium. important to bake them to kill any bacteria or mold
No need to worry if you only eat a few eggs at a time. A great place to save those egg shells is in a metal pie tin on top of your toaster oven. Over the course of a few days, your egg shells will not only collect but dry as you use the toaster oven.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest
31 thoughts on “Recycling Your Backyard Chicken Eggshells”
Do they work for parrots, too?
How much do you need to crush them before you give them back to the hens? Just to the point where they no longer recognize them as eggs? Or to a point where they are not sharp enough to cut them up. They seem so sharp.
I always wondered how to do this… thanks for posting. I think I will crush mine down a little finer because my girls are little wimps!
Hi Quig, not sure if they work for parrots. I would be careful with that one.
Flock Mistress and SAKim, The size in the photo that I took today is about right, but you can continue to crush them even more, to your preferences.
Do you need to remove the membrane?
Hi Kim, no need to remove the membrane. It dries out as they "cook".
I am wondering if you would do an article on recycling paper egg cartons for mulch, ground cover/weed barrier, compost, etc..
I did do one on composting. It is under the Chicken Health section. I'm not sure if this is what you were looking for. If not, email me what you were thinking:)
Hi, sorry but i left a comment under the wrong post. I meant to compliment you on your drying shells idea but added it to the post below. Oops
Welcome autumnmiss! Thank you for your lovely compliment. Glad to have you with us.
I've read you blog a few times…but as I'm about to be getting chickens soon; I'm now VERY interested in what you have to say…LOL.
I was reading a copy of Hobby Farms "Chickens" magazine earlier, and they mentioned egg bound chickens and said to feed them clam shells (?) as a source of calcium. I wondered about egg shells but worried they might eat their own eggs. You covered this very well.
I do have to ask,…how often should this be done? And do you feed it to all chickens? Roosters included?
I'm very new to all this– thanks for the tips.
I'll be adding your blog to my sidebar to remind me to come here and read it more often.
Thanks again, Pat
Welcome Pat! Usually, when hens become egg bound it is due to the size of the egg. Eggs are soft when they are passed and "harden" up once they are laid. Eggs that becomes stuck harden in the vent. These eggs are large and not easy to pass. Ouch!
I talk about egg bound hens in the section entitled "Egg Bound" in this post:
Hens should have a constant supply of egg shells/oyster shells. They will not harm the roosters, so there is no need to deny them access. They chickens will consume what they need. Chickens also need access to grit as well to be able to properly digest their food. Hope this helps. ~ Melissa
Thanks for this Melissa! Great info as always!
Glad to share it Deb. Thanks for stopping by!
Yep! We've been washing the egg shells, placing them on tin foil, and keeping them on a small metal pan in the toaster oven. We take them out to toast bread and then while the oven is still warm (but turned off) we put the egg shells back in. Depending on the amount, 3-5 times left in the warm toaster oven and they're ready to crush. No warming up the big oven!
Isn't it so easy, Our Side of the Mountain? Love that you do the same thing for your flock 🙂
I dry the shells over the pilot light on my gas stove, put them in a plastic bag and roll them with my rolling pin. Works great. And, Our Side of the Mountain, there's no need to wash them. Rissa
I love that so many of you are already doing this!
I take every days shells which is anywhere from two to five eggs worth, wash them and sort of rub the membrane away as I'm washing, then let them air dry until the next day and then put them in a coffee grinder with some flax seed and grind into a powder. I then sprinkle on whatever house scraps the girls are getting in the AM. Tomorrow they're getting a little hamburger and sweet potato fries!
What a great idea, Jeannieo. Love the idea of grinding them up too. Thanks.
I use the eggshells in my garden (crushed & baked a bit, just like yours) to keep the slugs & snails out. Seems to work. Planted bedding plants 1 week ago & they are ALL still there.. Amazing..
Theory in they don't like crawling over them because they are kind of sharp…
I have, in other years, gone out the next morning & found nothing but stalks & stems..
is drying necessary? We just give them to our girls crushed.
I tend to dry them out as I feel the risk of spreading any bacteria is minimized as the shells are "dried" out.
We do this each week during our big "breakfast for dinner" meal. After I cook bacon, I drain the drippings but leave the pan coated with the grease. I put all the shells from the week & the dinner on the pan, turn the oven off, and leave them to "cook" overnight. In the morning, they get crushed & fed to the girls! They love it!
I dry mine on top of the wood burner along side the pan with drying coffee grounds, drives my husband "NUTS" but such is life. During the summer they are in my old gas BBQ that I have gardening supplies in, with it being black and facing south it does not take long to dry. I do not have chickens but as mention before LOTS of garden usage.
great idea! we cant compost the shells because it will attract mice. As a first time chicken owner, this was so useful!
So happy to help. Welcome to chicken keeping!
I bake my shells at 350 for 10 minutes. This solves drying the membrane, killing bacteria simultaneously. Then I use a rolling pin on them and feed them to my flock. I do not mix them with their regular feed, though.
Brand new to chickens, just got 2 hens. I'm wondering, is this in place of grit or along with it? I know it's great for added calcium. Thanks so much! Great idea!
Can I do this with eggs that are not from our hens? I have some store bought organic ones mixed in but I heard I shouldn’t …