Lesson 577 – One lady’s trash is another chicken’s treasure

Okay, I’ll admit it.

I HATE oysters. Really, I can’t stand them.

I think I’m the only person in New England who would rather pass on the Thanksgiving dinner than eat a turkey filled with oyster stuffing.

Oh I get it, the pilgrims were starving, they needed protein and food, and one day someone found one of these sea slugs and said “hmm, I’ll bet if I eat it, I might not die of starvation.”

I get it, really I do.

But I still hate oysters.

The only good oyster, in my opinion, is an empty oyster’s shell which has been chopped up and mixed in with chicken feed.

Because as much as I hate oysters, our chickens love them. (well, the shells anyway.)

Oyster shells are a great natural and cheap way to give your egg laying hens a boost of calcium. At our house we mix a 5 pound bag of chopped up oyster shells into a 50 pound bag of feed. It’s enough to make our eggs strong but not so much that we get calcium lumps.

So while I’ll continue to feed our chickens oyster shells, and while I’ll even occasionally steam oysters in butter, wine, and garlic for the kids (who for the record, love them) let’s just say that you’ll not see me slurping on those filled pods of mucous anytime soon.

I’ll be sticking with my classic bread, celery, onion, and garlic stuffing for our Thanksgiving dinners, thank you very much.


Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, chicken care

13 responses to “Lesson 577 – One lady’s trash is another chicken’s treasure

  1. question flock mistress……..
    My girls won’t start laying until August should I be mixing oyster shells
    into their feed now? I guess they are still juveniles but they are growing like

    • Wendy Thomas

      Flock Mistress … I kind of like that. 🙂

      Calcium supplements before chickens are laying are not needed and are a waste of money, Wait until the first few eggs and then start adding calcium.

      Good luck with your flock,


    • Debbie

      Are you crumbling up your empty egg shells and giving them back to the chickens? All my shells get tossed out like scratch and the chickens who need it eat them and the ones who don’t act as if they were Wendy Thomas with an oyster.

      • Wendy Thomas

        Actually we do give our empty shells to the chickens, I have the kids put them in a bag and then they stomp on them to make “crumbles” which are then tossed over the fence to our chickens.

        Waste not..

        Wendy Thomas with an oyster, now there’s an image. 🙂


  2. Laura

    I used to mix oyster shell into their scratch, but now I just have a demand feeder of them inside the coop, near the nesting boxes. Since I have some leghorns who need tons, and some older heirloom birds that never did lay all that well, the calcium needs are pretty variable in my flock. This way everyone gets what they need.

  3. Jean

    for the record…I hate oysters too and I’m from Cape Cod!

  4. Hi sis–so here is an interesting fact about oysters. For folks who are highly iodine sensitive (like mom), the oyster shells in the chicken feed, while good for the chicken, occasionally may taint the eggs and affect these highly sensitive people.

    • Wendy Thomas


      You’ve mentioned this before and I know I’ve looked it up. Mom is allergic to shellfish and while she did have a reaction to the contrast used in a test, it’s possible that she was reacting to something else in the contrast or the type of iodine used – (if she were truly allergic to iodine she would not be able to eat *anything* that uses salt), and as we know that is not the case.

      Here’s an answer on the subject to someone else who had asked a similar question from Backyard Poultry:

      I would say it’s highly unlikely. My sister is also allergic to shellfish and had an anaphylactic reaction during an intravenous pyelogram; however, she can tolerate iodine from other sources without a problem. She eats my chicken eggs almost daily and my chickens have eaten shellfish. A LOT of foods contain iodine naturally, and you probably eat them every day, so I’m guessing you’re allergic to shellfish specifically. While the level of iodine in the eggs can be modified by diet, it’s in a different form by the time you eat it anyway. It IS an interesting question though!


  5. I hate oysters too, but regardless, you give good advice! 🙂

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