Fixing bum eggs

Chickens are a pretty easy hobby to take up, but they are kind of a fly-be-the-seat-of-your-pants when it comes to any hiccups.  EVERYBODY has differing opinions on how to do this or how to do that and it seems that trial and error is our method of choice.  Since February our chickens have significantly ramped up their egg production.  We are averaging a minimum of five eggs per day right now and the girls seem quite content at this pace.  (Side note: if you are wondering, eggs ARE still available for purchase.  We’d love to unload a dozen or two!)

Well, once the girls got into full swing after a cold winter, we were noticing a problem layer.  One chicken’s eggs were coming out deformed and misshapen.  About 1 in 10 of her eggs was completely shell-less and just a puddle of the insides.

*This is where you could insert a picture of one of these problem eggs if I had half a brain and had taken a picture.  Since I neglected to take the picture – a detailed description will have to do along with a couple of borrowed pictures from the internet.


The shells were either non-existent, weak to the touch (cracking and breaking the second you picked up the egg) or deformed.  When I say deformed – think of an egg that is regular is shape and size, but the shell isn’t smooth and uniform.  The color would change and wasn’t an even tone of brown.  And, the egg would be mottled and chunky down at one end.  It was almost as if the chicken’s body was on the right track when she started to make the shell, but couldn’t quite finish it…

Well, we started with a call to our local farm store and talked to the chicken expert. His suggestion was to add a smidgen of apple cider vinegar to their water (makes it easier for them to break down the oyster shells).  No luck.  Checked with friends.  The suggestions including upping their protein intake by feeding them different food and giving them free access to oyster shells (which we already do).  Still no luck.

After some scouring of the internet and a good dose of common sense – I came up with my remedy.  One of the problems with the chicken is that she is short on the calcium required to make the shell.  In theory oyster shells should take care of this, but our chickens abstain from oyster shells.  They will not touch them and even if they are in their food – they pick around them.  So, we started reusing.

We keep all our shells, rinse them out and then give them back to chickens.  They love them!!!  After cleaning and drying – they are crushed and thrown back in their pen.  The choice to reuse eggshells and feed them back to the chickens is a heated topic in the chicken world.  Some people swear that it teaches egg eating.  Others swear that it’s the ultimate in “recycling” and gets back to the chickens just what they need.  It was worth a try for us  and I have to say – it worked like a charm.  The other “treat” we have added to their diet is anything dairy.  The old cheese and the yogurt remnants get tossed out to them, too!

Directions to prepping and feeding eggshells to chickens

Collect your eggshells.

  • Rinse them out after you get the egg.
  • We keep ours in the fridge in a plastic bowl until we are ready to use them.

Bake your eggshells.

  • Toss the eggshells onto a lined baking sheet.   I use a layer of parchment paper.
  • Bake the eggshells for 10 to 15 minutes at 425F degrees.
  • Allow the eggshells to cool in the oven (and bake for a bit longer).

Prep your eggshells.

  • Crush your eggshells into small pieces using any method you choose.  My choice is a rolling pin.  One purpose of crushing the eggshells is to reduce the potential for egg-eating by the chickens.

Serve your eggshells.

I dump the eggshells into one pile in their run, instead of sprinkling them.  My theory is that I spent a lot of time prepping them and want to make sure they get them all…

Let’s talk chickens!  Have you had problems with the eggshells of your chickens?  What are your tried-and-true remedies?

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9 Responses to Fixing bum eggs

  1. Jenny says:

    Very interesting! Thanks for posting about this because who knows what kinds of problems we may run into when our girls get old
    enough. Right now, they’re only a few weeks old and I’ve been re-reading all the chicken books and magazines I have just so I can
    prevent any issues. But you never know what can pop up.

  2. Cutzi says:

    We always feed our shells back to our chickens… but I have never done all the prep. In fact, I’ve tried feeding the shells of boiled eggs to our chickens and they won’t touch them. I just toss them in a bowl with our scraps and take them out daily. No rinsing or anything and they gobble them up.

    • sacredbee says:

      You can’t beat the calcium in the eggshells and if I don’t give them to the chicks – they go into the garden. I bake them so they are easy-peasy to crumble. And, I wash them because the smell of cooking eggs is horrible! 😦 Were you guys able to keep all your chickens? Or did your neighbor keep putting up his stink?

      • Cutzi says:

        As it turns out, it wasn’t the neighbor we thought it was. Which is good and bad news. :-/ One of our chickens recently died… we’re not sure what from. So that brings us down to 5, only 1 away from what they said we could have (“3..or 4”) and since codes enforcement hasn’t been by and we’ve kept the girls under close watch I think we’re good for now. 😉 Phew. Except, we’re only getting 3 eggs/day and we have 5 chickens. I think it’s time to find a new home for the moochers. We can’t afford to keep any unproductive chickens around.

  3. Debby says:

    Great idea! We have 30 chickie’s but have never had an issue with this. We will have to remember for the future! However, we do reuse our eggshells. We do the prep you spoke about, cleaning, drying in the over, cooling, etc. Then we pulverize in a blender and save for use in the garden. PLANTS LOVE THEM! The calcium is a nutrient they need to fruit and flower. ALso, if you don’t pulverize, you just crush them, you can put them around your garden to keep away the slugs and other crawly creatures who hate crawling over sharp objects.

    • sacredbee says:

      That’s great that you have always had good, strong eggs! I guess bad egg shells are a “common” problem. I’m just glad that this working because I’d hate to keep losing an egg and having the chicken work SO hard for nothing… Glad to see you pop in here, too! 🙂

  4. I sincerely wish for the day we have a yard and area big enough for chickens. I cannot wait to have fresh eggs and introduce my son to some farm life like my husband and I used to have. I wish we were close, I would live to take some off your hands.

    • sacredbee says:

      Oh it’s nice to see a new face around here! You cannot beat farm fresh eggs. And, that’s the great thing about chickens – you don’t need a huge yard for a two or three. They are fun for kids and easy to take care of. A delicious hobby! 🙂

  5. Pingback: With a “scratch and a peck” | The Sacred Bee's Blog

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