Come to the news about Eggland's best eggs, quit the weird info I am about to share about chickens eating their own eggshells. (If it's not an exciting cliffhanger, I don't know what's going on.)
First, the news: Eggland's Best announced today received another patent from the US Patent & Trademark Office for its production methods that Provides a "more nutritious shell egg." If you wonder about the press release's use of the term "shell egg", it is just a phrase that distinguishes an egg in a shell from other egg products such as powdered eggs or dried eggs. Eggland's Best continues to say that all nutritional benefits of its eggs – including high levels of vitamins D, E and B12, plus lower cholesterol compared to regular eggs – are a result of its "proprietary all-vegetarian chicken food" of "healthy grains, rapeseed oil and a healthy supplement of rice bran, alfalfa, sea kelp and vitamin E." This makes sense: What a chicken meat affects the egg's nutritional quality. But did you know that what a chicken eats also affects the quality of its shell?
The discussion about this shell-egg news got Takeout staff who talked about eggshells, and I, the employee's lone chicken eggs, fielded a lot of questions.
Can you fire chicken crushed oyster shells to improve the quality of their eggshells?
Yep. While most of the high quality commercial chicken feet contain enough minerals for good eggshell production alone, some owners supplement them with crushed oyster shells to add more calcium to chicken diets. Calcium is a requirement to create eggshells, so if a hen does not receive enough of it in her diet, her eggs may be weak or oddly shaped. Chickens can also receive extra calcium by eating their own eggshells.
Wait, chickens can eat their own eggshells?
Yep. Many backyard coolers note that owners can wash and dry egg shells and feed them back to chickens as a source of calcium and other minerals.
Whoa, chicken cannibalism!
Kinda. The shells should not contain any actual egg, first because there is a danger that bacteria will grow on still-wet egg shells, and secondly because egg formation in the shell may encourage chickens to attack and eat their own eggs after they have been laid.
Yes this ("induced egg eat") is one thing that happens sometimes. The Backyard Chicken Book explains the problem: "Eggs when they have gained the habit are difficult to stop; and they will eat both good and bad shell eggs. Even worse, the screw spreads from one hen to another." To prevent this, owners are encouraged to remove eggs quickly from the nest after laying and not to feed their chickens with wet eggshells.
So um, other chicken or eggshell questions I can answer for you?