Oyster Shell For Chickens: Is It Good For Your Chickens? 2021

Are you feeding your hens enough calcium to produce healthy and strong eggs? I remember being so excited to see my hens laying for the first time, only to find oddly-shaped and paper-thin egg shells in the nest!

Fortunately, you can avoid lower-quality egg production with an oyster shell supplement.

In our article, we’ll simplify what oyster shell and grit for chickens are.

We’ll also learn how to choose the best products and why they’re such important supplements to feed laying hens.

Let’s start by looking at the most popular grit and oyster products that will bring you strong eggshells and beautiful birds.

The Best Oyster Shell and Grit Products in Our Winning Categories

Top Pick

Homestead Harvest Coastal Oyster Shell Calcium Supplement

Its clean, dry formula leaves little mess and has a grit texture that supports digestion in chickens.

Homestead Harvest Coastal Oyster Shell Calcium Supplement

Homestead Harvest’s Oyster Shell makes it into our top choice of calcium supplements, because it is a combination of grit and pure oyster shell.

The granules provide a natural treat that hens need for digestion and shelled eggs.

It is best to provide Small Pet Select as a separate dish for layers.

Egg Health

The Homestead Harvest range will help laying hens produce spectacular eggs when you put the textured grit in their coop.

Chickens will get all the calcium they need for strong eggshells with this super easy to feed supplement.

Be sure to let us know what your chickens think of our top pick!

Best Value

AA Plus Shop Ground Oyster Shells Calcium Feed

Natural grit that consists of a pure ground shell without additives. Easy to feed to your flock.

AA Plus Shop Ground Oyster Shells Calcium Feed

If you are looking primarily for cost effectiveness in a calcium supplement for hens, consider AA Plus Ground Oyster Shell.

The supplement is naturally sourced and a valuable choice for backyard flocks. It also provides enough minerals for a balanced diet.

Serving

The ground oyster shell should be put in a bowl or flat container for chickens to peck at.

It can also be placed in regular feeders. With no additives or preservatives, a little will really go a long way for problem layers!

Best Oyster Shell for Laying Hens

Manna Pro Crushed Oyster Shell

Takes care of your hens’ extra calcium and grit needs with a no mess, no fuss crushed shell supplement.

Manna Pro Crushed Oyster Shell

This grit and oyster combination is our best choice because it is fairly priced, easy to feed, and provides that additional calcium laying chickens need.

The supplement consists of small rocks or pellets, which also serve as grit.

Hens will be happy to collect the granules for digestion.

Nutrients

Both young and old laying hens will receive a lot of calcium with the Manna Pro ground shell range.

The product can be fed to hens from 18 weeks, and it provides a constant source of essential minerals for the healthiest egg shell consistency.

The Top 5 Oyster Shell Products for Chickens

Best Oyster Shell for Laying Hens

Manna Pro Crushed Oyster Shell

Takes care of your hens’ extra calcium and grit needs with a no mess, no fuss crushed shell supplement.

Manna Pro Crushed Oyster Shell

Enough calcium can prevent cracked and thin eggshells.

When combined with grit, it also supports the digestive health of chickens.

Manna Pro takes care of your hens’ extra calcium and grit needs with a no mess, no fuss crushed shell supplement.

We like Manna Pro because it’s easy to feed and a great source of additional calcium for laying chickens.

Pellet

You can safely use the pellet oyster shell because it is heat-treated.

Its dry texture makes it easier to manage – add it with feed or toss it on the ground for birds to forage!

The pellets look similar to small rocks, which makes them suitable for large hens to eat. Smaller poultry, such as bantams and quails, may struggle to pick up the pellets.

Grit

This calcium supplement is also in grit form, ideal for crop and digestive health.

You can also store these items in a sealed container to keep them fresh.

The Manna Pro pellets will support crop health and digestion, and you can give ½ cup of the shell crumble to two adult hens.

Specs

  • Type: Pellet
  • Ingredients: Oyster shell and coral calcium
  • Pure oysters: No

Pros

  • Heat-treated for purity
  • Easy to use pellets
  • Extra calcium content

Cons

  • Pellet size may be too large for small birds

Best Value

AA Plus Shop Ground Oyster Shells Calcium Feed

Natural grit that consists of a pure ground shell without additives. Easy to feed to your flock.

AA Plus Shop Ground Oyster Shells Calcium Feed

Laying hens need all the help they can get to produce tough eggshells.

With AA Plus Shop, it is easier and more affordable to provide your chickens the additional calcium they need.

All-sized hens will be happy to consume the ground shells to supplement layer feed!

Ingredients

What is interesting about this range is that it is sourced from beaches across the USA.

It consists of a pure ground shell without additives.

The textured grit also makes it more enticing to chickens.

Feeding

You only have to give your hens a handful of these granules for the healthiest eggshells, and it is available in a little bag, ideal for a small backyard flock.

If you are concerned about supplements for your flock, the natural grit delivered by AA Plus Shop Ground is easy to feed to any group.

Separate it from their daily food in a bowl or sprinkle it on the ground.

Specs

  • Type: Ground Oyster shell
  • Ingredients: Oyster shell
  • Pure oysters: Yes

Pros

  • Naturally sourced from local beaches
  • Granule size easy for chickens to eat
  • Pure formulation
  • Reduces waste

Cons

  • Too large for quails

Top Pick

Homestead Harvest Coastal Oyster Shell Calcium Supplement

Its clean, dry formula leaves little mess and has a grit texture that supports digestion in chickens.

Homestead Harvest Coastal Oyster Shell Calcium Supplement

The Homestead Harvest Coastal Oyster Shell Supplement is suitable for free-range and coop-bound flocks.

It is a grit and oyster formula, which helps improve shell consistency, digestion, and the production of eggs.

Its clean, dry formula leaves little mess, even with regular feeding.

Nutrients

The pellets can supplement a layer feed if a hen struggles to produce hard egg shells.

Apart from its high source of calcium for healthy eggs and bones, Homestead Harvest’s grit texture supports digestion in chickens.

The small rocks encourage the natural grinding of food in the crop, making it easier to absorb.

Ingredients

This calcium supplement does consist of a large pellet compared to similar items.

It is best consumed by mature hens as well as large pullets approaching a laying age. Smaller birds such as bantams may struggle to pick up coarse pellets.

You can toss the calcium grit on the ground when chooks free-range, and also place it in an automatic feeder for convenience!

Specs

  • Type: Pellets
  • Ingredients: Crushed shell
  • Pure Oysters: Yes

Pros

  • Compatible with automatic feeders
  • Grit consistency

Cons

  • Coarse texture
  • Too large for small breeds to eat

Family Farm & Feed Oyster Shell

Offers a combination of oyster shell and coral calcium in the form of grit.

Family Farm & Feed Oyster Shell

If you have fussy hens that lay problem eggshells, then the soluble grit by Family Farm & Feed is best.

It offers a quick and easy way to provide hens with the minerals that they need.

Ingredients

The product offers a combination of oyster shell and coral calcium in the form of a grit.

If your hen is not getting enough calcium, consider the natural calcium provided by Family Farm & Feed.

Texture

It is a dry, yet soluble granule formula developed to supplement the daily chicken diet.

What I like about the Family Farm & Feed Oyster Shell is that it doesn’t include any additives.

The granules are also easy to provide laying hens a choice, and should be kept separate from regular feeds.

Feeding

You can place it in a bowl or container that every chicken can reach.

The next time you are looking for a calcium supplement for a large breed laying hen, consider the calcium grit in Family Farm & Feed.

Its formula is easy to use and perfect for young or old hens that need a calcium boost in their diet.

Specs

  • Type: Grit
  • Ingredients: Ground oyster shell
  • Pure Oysters: Yes

Pros

  • Supports natural feed
  • Granules can be fed freely

Cons

  • Powder formula can create waste
  • Too fine to sprinkle as scratch

Manna Pro Chick Grit with Probiotics

Consists of crushed granite developed for the growing needs of poultry, encourages strong bones and feather formation.

Manna Pro Chick Grit with Probiotics

Manna Pro makes it easier to provide chicks and bantams a real healthy treat!

The digestive supplement, developed for the growing needs of poultry, encourages strong bones and feather formation.

It consists of crushed granite that can be fed to chicks as young as 2 weeks old.

Nutrients

Calcium is necessary for eggshell development in laying hens, and young birds need the right amount of calcium too.

Their bones, feathers, and overall growth rely on a source of calcium to prevent abnormalities.

Rather than try to feed regular grit that is too high in calcium for tiny birds, Manna Pro offers the ideal balance of minerals.

Feeding

Small chicks, ducklings, and bantams can easily eat the fine granules.

You can add the chick grit to daily feed, or sprinkle it on the ground to encourage foraging. The grit can be fed often, but be sure to include water to aid digestion!

Specs

  • Type: Chick grit
  • Ingredients: Insoluble crushed granite
  • Pure Oysters: No

Pros

  • Small size granules for chicks and bantams
  • Probiotics for digestion
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives

Cons

  • Costly

What are Oyster Shells for Chickens?

Oyster Shell Close Up
Oyster Shell Close Up

An oyster is a mollusk, and its shell is made of calcium carbonate and a small amount of protein.

Eggshells consist of 40% calcium, and chickens need this mineral for healthy laying. By feeding them shelled oysters, you instantly give your chickens a lot of calcium so they can lay strong eggs.

The shells of oysters are a natural calcium supplement.

Below, we look at the reasons to feed this mineral to chickens and how you can be sure to choose the best product.

Why Do Chickens Need Oyster Shell?

As a first-time backyard chicken keeper, I wasn’t sure of the high calcium needs of laying hens.

I provided a regular laying pellet by 18 weeks, but when I checked the nest box, one egg had an odd shape and the second broke in my hand.

My hens were lacking in calcium and I needed to find an inexpensive and natural way to improve their diet.

Nutrients

Although standard layer feeds contain lots of calcium, it may not be enough for the needs of every laying hen…

Although standard layer feeds contain lots of calcium, it may not be enough for the needs of every laying hen.

Chickens go through a 24-hour egg production cycle and require a constant supply of calcium to develop the toughest egg shells.

When they lack the minerals they need, the result is a paper-thin or malformed eggshell.

Rubber Eggs

If calcium is not provided often, hens can also lay rubber eggs!

In this case, the shell doesn’t form at all.

It also increases the risk of conditions such as peritonitis which is an infection of the coelom, or the space between the intestine and skin layer.

Chicken Laid Rubber Egg

What are Alternatives to Feeding Oyster Shell?

Baking and grinding eggshells offers a fair amount of calcium for a backyard flock.

However, it cannot beat that of oysters.

An egg shell contains an average of 380 mg of calcium per gram compared to the 500 mg of calcium in the shells of oysters.

NOTE

A combination of grit and oyster is a great choice for chickens in lay.

It offers the minerals that birds need, including the stone or granules that aid digestion in the crop and gizzard.

Digestion

With its beak, a hen cannot chew their food to aid digestion.

By introducing grit, it helps to grind food prior, making it easier for the gizzard to absorb. The grit with calcium will provide enough minerals for every chicken. It is a great way to enhance the health and the diet of a hen.

What is Oyster Shell Calcium for Chickens?

Chickens need oyster shells because they provide a very rich source of calcium.

Even the best types of layer food need to be supplemented!

Eggshell Supplement

This is especially true for hens with high mineral requirements that struggle to form hard eggshells on their own.

Mollusks consist of calcium carbonate.

That is also found in various rocks, and is the primary component you will find in shelled eggs and seashells as well.

How Much Grit and Oyster Shell for a Chicken?

Chickens Foraging Outside a Coop
Chickens Foraging Outside a Coop

It’s best to offer mineral supplements as a free choice. It is not ideal to force a hen to consume the supplement by mixing it into their food.

If you have a hen that lays rubber or thin egg shells, the use of grit is a good idea.

You can place the shells in a bowl or container separate from their daily food, or you can spread it on the ground to encourage foraging.

Provide just one handful for two to three large hens, and let them pick at it as they please.

Conclusion

Chickens need calcium, but it should be provided in limited quantities.

Mineralized grit is a great way to encourage free-ranging or foraging inside the coop.

It provides the minerals and the grit needed to encourage digestion.

This will also support a healthy crop and gizzard.

You can leave the supplement in a bowl, a feeder, or sprinkle it on the ground.

Calcium Supplement

Oyster shell is considered the best form of grit and calcium for chickens.

You can start supplementing food for chicks to improve bone development.

Oyster shells as additional supplements are available in flake, pellet, and powder form at the feed store. It should be fed often and separately from chicken food.

Top Pick

Homestead Harvest Oyster Shell is a great start for chickens accustomed to large-sized grit. 

Best Value

For a natural granule supplement, AA Plus will keep you and your chickens happy!

Best Oyster Shell for Laying Hens

When you visit the feed store, look out for Manna Pro Ground Oyster Shell, which consists of pellets for a medium to large laying hen.

There is no doubt that adding an oyster shell to the coop food is beneficial for growing birds and nutritious eggs.

The type of grit you choose will depend on the quality, the size of a chicken, and the condition of the eggshell they produce. Your chickens will be so happy to pick at their new treat with its amazing natural benefits.

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Jess Woods
Jess Woods
Founder of Chickens & You. I love raising chickens and creating a self sustainable homestead for my family. I like to spend my time writing and teaching skills for homesteading and self sufficient living. 🐓 👩‍🌾