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Because a hen will do most of her laying in the first year or two of her life, it is important to ensure they always have a constant supply of calcium to help with shell development and to prevent weak bones. Most feed stores sell Oyster Shell grit at a very low price and a small container can last for quite a long time as the hens will peck at it as they need it. Most commercial feeds these days already contain added calcium but if you prefer to make your own feed or buy Organic feeds, chances are you will need an extra source of calcium for your girls. If you don't have any Oyster shell grit on hand then a very handy way of making sure your girls always have a fresh supply of Calcium is to re-use their eggshells! This is most preferred if you are using Organic free-range eggs, as store bought eggs may not contain the right amount of nutrients that your hens will need. At least by using my hens own eggs, I know eggsactly what is going into them!

I collect my used (and rinsed) egg shells in a container until I have a large enough quantity to dry and crush. I have even read articles where some people freeze their eggshells until they have the amount they need. You would still have to ensure they are properly dried before crushing if using this method. Try to keep the inner membrane if possible as this will add extra nutrients to the mix.

Once you have enough eggshells you can lay them out on paper towels to sun dry or if you are impatient (like I sometimes am) you can spread them out on a lined baking tray and dry them in the oven at 200c for 5-7 mins, but be sure to keep an eye on them as they can burn easily if left unattended and the smell is not pleasant!

Next, either lay them out on a flat surface and crush them with a rolling pin or use a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder. Any method will work as long as it reduces the shells to a fine grit. I even wrapped them up in the baking paper and crushed them by rolling between my hands. It's really up to you how you want to do it.

After crushing, store them in a covered glass jar or container in a cool, dark place.

Here are a few interesting articles for other uses for your used eggshells, not just for chickens!
http://www.pet-grub.com/print_this_page/how_to_make_your_own_ground_egg_shell_calcium_supplement_for_dogs_and_cats

http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2012/08/9-things-to-do-with-eggshells.html






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