Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cure for thin eggshells

My hens all lay brown eggs. Well, except the non-laying one who just broke from broodiness, and the anonymous one who has started laying pale, thin-shelled, eggs. The shells are thin enough that a hen put her foot through it while on the nest.

Why do hens lay eggs with thin shells? I suppose it is due to lack of calcium since eggshell is mostly calcium carbonate. My hens have access to oyster shell, but show no enthusiasm for it. My theory is that the hen who is currently low in the pecking order is the one laying thin eggs due to limited access to layer pellets.

How to deal with this? I would feed them eggshells, but they refuse to eat eggshells. However they love scrambled eggs....

I collected up all the eggs I did not want to eat and dropped them in the blender. Put it on liquefy and then poured the frothy mess in a frying pan. I took care to stir around the egg mixture since the eggshell was a sediment on the bottom and I wanted it mixed in to every delicious morsel of scrambled egg.

I learned during my sick chicken ordeal to NEVER give them insanely delicious treats when they can trample me. So I put the plate of crunchy scrambled eggs in the chicken run before opening the coop.

They raced to the plate and attacked the eggs with gusto. Oh the chickeny joy! The smart ones grabbed big bits and ran off to dine in relative peace. The less smart ones stood on the plate and pecked at the eggs.

The rooster tried a clever trick. He took a big piece of egg away and stood over it clucking about how great it tasted. Within seconds he had two hens sharing his treat. He put on his "Hey baby" dance, but was rebuffed. *sigh*

So does feeding eggshell correct the thin shell problem? Wait and see....

Update: Feeding eggshell definitely cures the problem, if they eat it. And they sure do eat it when the eggshell is part of the scrambled egg platter! I have also starting adding dry crushed eggshell & oyster shell to all the feeders as well as placing oyster shell in the oyster shell station. If I am very careful to limit the treats, and load the treats with calcium sources & layer pellets, then the thin shell eggs and shell-less eggs disappear to be replaced by robust well-formed eggs.

Update: BYC member Imp provided a list of foods that are high in calcium:

  • Spinach
  • Turnip greens
  • Mustard greens
  • Collard greens 
  • Blackstrap molasses (not recommended)
  • Swiss chard
  • Yogurt
  • Kale
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Milk (goat's milk and cow's milk)
  • Basil, thyme, dill seed, cinnamon, and peppermint leaves
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Rhubarb (not recommended)
  • Broccoli
  • Sesame seeds
  • Fennel
  • Cabbage
  • Summer squash
  • Green beans
  • Garlic (not recommended)
  • Tofu
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Oranges (not recommended)
  • Asparagus
  • Crimini mushrooms 


  1. I also feed the girls cottage cheese, sour cream and yogurt for calcium.

  2. I LOVE how the roosters "talk" to their girls and share food with them. It's so sweet and makes up for the violent mating. lol

  3. I just wanted to point out that rhubarb is not recommended for chickens.

  4. My girls just started laying and the third egg was papery thin! I feel so bad! They have a complete layer feed but I suspect they are not eating the pellets and just eating the other grains. I used this scrambled egg method to help get some emergency calcium into their bodies. I will do it for awhile I think. Poor girls!