Can Chickens Eat Crab Shells

Can Chickens Eat Crab Shells? My Funny Story Finding Out



โ€”> Last Updated:

I’ll never forget the time my buddy Carl dared me to feed his chickens leftover crab shells from our crawfish boil.

I laughed and said “Chickens will eat anything!”

So I tossed a few shells into the coop and waited to see what happened.

At first, the chickens just stared at the shells curiously.

But then one brave hen named Betty slowly waddled over and pecked at a shell.

She seemed to like it, because then she started breaking it apart and eating the smaller pieces.

Well, seeing Betty enjoy the crab shell made all the other chickens want some too.

So within minutes, every chicken in the coop was gobbling up crab shells excitedly.

Chunks of shell were flying everywhere as the chickens broke them apart and ate them.

“See, I told you they’d eat it!” I said to Carl with a big grin.

I was feeling pretty proud of myself for proving chickens will eat anything.

Well, a few hours later those chickens got their revenge.

Let’s just say there was an explosion in the coop that required me to spend 5 hours cleaning up the huge mess!

So in my experience, chickens will definitely eat crab shells with enthusiasm.

But the aftermath isn’t pretty once those shells start passing through their digestive tracts.

The crab shells don’t fully digest and just get pooped out in chunks everywhere, or cause digestive issues.

Maybe that’s why you don’t see many chickens living near the ocean eating crab shells all the time!

Are Crab Shells Safe for Chickens?

Can Chickens Eat Crab Shells

While chickens will eagerly eat crab shells if given the chance, it’s better not to feed them crab shells or other crustacean shells.

Here’s why:

The shells don’t provide much nutritional value to chickens.

See also  Can Chickens Eat Honey Mushrooms? A Forager’s Guide

Chickens can’t properly digest the tough chitin material that makes up crustacean shells.

Their digestive system just can’t break down or extract nutrients from the shell pieces.

So the shells just pass through their system intact, providing no benefit.

Shell fragments can also cause internal lacerations or obstructions in the chicken’s digestive tract.

Sharp pieces of shell can scratch the lining of the crop, gizzard, or intestines as they pass through.

Or worse, large chunks could get stuck and block the digestive tract, which is extremely dangerous.

The salty seasoning on crab or other crustacean shells could also cause problems.

Too much salt can lead to excessive thirst and kidney problems in chickens.

Some seasonings may contain toxic ingredients for chickens like onion or garlic powder.

So are crab shells actually safe for chickens to eat?

I’d have to say no, the risks definitely outweigh any potential benefits.

What Do Chickens Eat?

Can Chickens Eat Crab Shells

Chickens are natural foragers with very diverse appetites.

They’ll eat just about anything they can fit in their beaks.

But to stay healthy and productive, chickens need a balanced diet with variety.

Here are some common healthy foods chickens can eat:

Complete pellets or crumble feed provides balanced nutrition.

The feed is formulated with the right ratios of protein, carbs, vitamins and minerals.

This provides a well-rounded diet so chickens get all their nutritional needs met.

Scraps of fruits, veggies, seeds, nuts, breads, rice and more are great supplemental treats.

This introduces different textures, flavors and nutrients.

Favorites of my chickens include watermelon, broccoli, squash, spinach, and apples.

Mealworms, crickets, grubs and other insects supply extra protein for growth and egg production.

The chickens go crazy when I dump in a bucket of mealworms as a protein boost.

Hardened shells and grit provides crops and gizzards an abrasive scrub to help digest food.

Oyster shell supplements add important calcium for strong eggshells.

See also  Would Your Peepers Go Crazy for Grits? Find Out If Baby Chicks Can Feast on Corn Mush!

Crushed oyster shells are a great natural calcium source.

Fresh, clean water is vital for chickens health – they drink 1-2 cups per day!

Variety in their diet is important to keep chickens healthy and productive.

But stay away from crab shells and other sharp, indigestible objects that can harm your flock.

The Best Chicken Feed for Egg Laying

Can Chickens Eat Crab Shells

To get the highest egg production from your backyard chickens, you want to feed a complete and balanced layer feed.

Look for a quality layer feed that contains:

16-18% minimum protein content from quality sources like soybean meal, fish meal, etc.

The higher protein helps egg production.

2.5-4% minimum calcium content from limestone, oyster shell flour, or other calcium sources.

Layers need extra calcium for developing healthy eggshells.

Grain byproducts like corn, wheat, barley, milo provide complex carbohydrates for energy.

Vitamins A, D, E, and B complex support egg development and immune health.

Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting – very important for laying hens.

Minerals like manganese, zinc, iron, copper promote growth and fertility.

Antioxidants help protect against free radicals and keep cells healthy.

Supplement with oyster shells or grit if needed to boost calcium intake.

Free choice oyster shells allow hens to balance their own calcium intake.

A quality complete layer feed combined with fresh treats will keep your flock laying eggs!

How Much Protein Do Chickens Need?

The amount of protein chickens need varies by age and purpose.

Baby chicks require diets with at least 20% protein to support rapid growth and development.

As chicks mature, protein needs decrease to 16% for pullets and laying hens, and 12-14% for adult chickens not laying eggs.

Egg laying and breeding chickens have higher protein requirements around 16-18% to replenish protein lost in eggs and support fertility.

Protein is found in feed ingredients like fish meal, soybean meal, worms, and insects.

Free-range chickens may get extra protein from foraging bugs and worms.

See also  Garden Harmony: Can Chickens Safely Munch on Hostas?

Too little protein can reduce growth, egg production, and fertility.

Excessive protein gets converted to energy or excreted as waste.

I balance my chickens’ diet with 16% layer feed and high-protein treats like mealworms.

Chicken Feed Options

There are many types of chicken feed available to meet different needs.

Starter feed has over 20% protein for baby chicks under 6 weeks old.

Grower feed contains 16-18% protein to support growth from 6 weeks to maturity.

Layer feed is 16-18% protein with added calcium for egg-laying hens.

Scratch grains like corn, wheat, oats provide energy but lack proper nutrition.

Complete feeds contain blended ingredients to supply balanced nutrition.

Crumbles and pellets provide uniform nutrition compared to mixed feed.

Organic feeds use all natural, non-GMO ingredients if that’s a concern.

Soy-free feeds avoid soy ingredients if allergies are an issue.

Medicated starter feeds help protect against coccidiosis in chicks.

I use an organic 16% layer crumble for balanced everyday nutrition.

Chicken Treats and Supplements

Chickens love treats for variety and nutrients!

Healthy options include mealworms, vegetables, fruits, yogurt.

Mealworms are high in protein for growth and egg production.

Chopped fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and minerals.

Plain yogurt contains probiotics for gut health.

Avoid unhealthy treats like chips, pasta, and candy.

Occasional scrambled eggs supply protein for egg layers.

Baked goods like muffins or bread provide energy from carbs.

Seeds and nuts offer key fatty acids and amino acids.

Supplements support health – I give my flock oyster shell for calcium.

how to raise chickens for eggs book pdf

Get Crackin’ on Your Own Egg Empire

Do you crave the rich golden yolks and thick whites that only come from the freshest eggs?

After nearly a decade running my own egg empire and mastering the art of keeping chickens, I’ve stuffed all my insider secrets into the aptly named “How to Raise Chickens for Eggs”.

how to raise chickens for eggs book pdf

Get Crackin’ on Your Own Egg Empire

Do you crave the rich golden yolks and thick whites that only come from the freshest eggs?

Dream of a waddling flock of feathered friends in your own backyard?

Then stop dreaming and start hatching a plan, people!

This ain’t no chicken game. After nearly a decade running my own egg empire and mastering the art of keeping chickens, I’ve stuffed all my insider secrets into the aptly named “How to Raise Chickens for Eggs”.

I’m talking building a palace of a coop guaranteed to impress the neighbors, concocting feed for peak egg production, collecting eggs so perfect you’ll weep tears of joy – plus hilarious stories and accidental mishaps along the way.

So get cluckin’ and grab the key to creating your own morning egg paradise before I sell out!