A few weeks ago we stopped composting our eggshells. This might seem odd – the shells are a great source of calcium, and whatever egg white clings to them adds protein to our mix.
However that was the problem – egg shells in compost attract rodents, and I’m sure they were a drawcard for the rat that took up residence in our compost bins. Rodents aren’t great news at the best of times, but we really didn’t want rattie graduating from the eggshells in our compost to the fresh ones in our chicken coop…
Luckily, there are lots of other things we can do with eggshells – including feeding them back to the chickens. Chickens need plenty of calcium in their diet to keep producing shells, and one way to provide it is by recycling the calcium they’ve already had.
The key to this is to make the eggshells look and taste different from the shells the chickens create, or else your birds might start eating their own eggs (seriously, they can do this). To prevent chickens from going all ‘Hennibal the Cannibal’, bake and crush the shells before feeding them back.
However, since we already feed oyster grit to meet our girls’ calcium requirements, I’m avoiding that option. Instead I’m baking the shells (for around an hour at 180 degrees Celsius), then crushing them with a mortar and pestle until they’re about the consistency of sand. I’ll add it to the soil when we plant more tomatoes, as I’ve read that tomato plants in particular love calcium.
At this time of year, when we’re making egg-heavy pavlova and lots of home-cooked breakfasts, we have a lot of shells. By using the shells wisely, we’re enriching our soil, along with our diet.