If you own chickens, you know there is nothing so wonderful or delicious as fresh eggs. Every day we go out and feed the hens and in return they give us those glorious eggs. But how much do you know about how an egg is made? Do you know why calcium is so important to your hens? Do you know how to supplement their calcium intake? Fear not, I have all the answers for you, right here, right now!
First off the egg….. It takes about 25 hours for a hen to “make” an egg. But how does she do it? Once the yolk leaves the ovary it enters an area called the magnum. For the next few hours the membrane is added to the yolk before it travels to the isthmus where the white is added. Once the egg gets to the uterus it spends the next approximately 21 hours getting the shell put on. And what is that shell made of? Calcium!!! Yeah, it is kinda of important to the whole egg process.
If you raise your own hens, you will undoubtedly get some “funky” eggs from time to time. The egg making process is a complicated one and sometimes things do go amiss…. eggs with no yolks, double yolks, an egg in an egg, extra bumps on the shells, etc. But one thing you can help with are the calcium issues, like thin shells or rubber eggs.
|A “normal egg,” An odd shaped eggs with pigment issues, |
and a thin shell egg that was so thin the yolk was lost
Making eggs takes a lot out of hen and can actually leach calcium from her bones, so supplementing their calcium is important for good health and great egg shells. But how do you do this? Well, in extreme causes you could use a liquid calcium supplement, but it is better to be preventative from the start. There are two great ways to supplement your hens calcium and that is by either using store bought oyster shells or feeding back your eggs shells to your girls.
Now some folks think that feeding your hens back their own eggs will make them “egg eaters” but we have never had an issue. For many years, farmers have done this to keep cost down, while providing an needed supplement. And why buy something you can make for free. Why throw those eggs shells out when your done!?!? What a waste of a great sources of calcium. Simply wash your shells after you use them and let them dry. Next place them in a zip lock bag and grab your rolling pin. Do not turn the shells to dust, just break them down into bite size pieces.
Store bought or homemade, your girls should have continuous access to their calcium supplement. Do not mix it in with their food. Keep in mind, too much calcium is not good for your pullets (female chickens who have yet to start laying) and can damage their kidneys, so do not mix in food that is shared by a variety of ages. Simply provide a container of oyster or shells near their feeding area and they will eat as much or as little as they need. It is amazing how they “know” what they need.
So now that you know how an egg is made, why they need calcium and how to provided it, take a moment to enjoy one of our Goldie’s “misfired” eggs….. *bong bong*
**Homestead Tips on Tuesday is a weekly series where we help you learn skills, tips, and trick to help you on your journey of homesteading. Many places post list of things you should/could do as far as homesteading skill, but I feel lists are at times overwhelming and can make people give up before they even start. So every Tuesday I share one thing for you to try or consider. I hope you join us every Tuesday and I would love to hear about your adventures with each weeks topic.**