Aug 6, 2013

For Strong Eggshells, Size Matters

I often refer to my hens as little artists, and rightfully so: eggs are amazing masterpieces that require extraordinary resources to produce. I find it positively painful to crack some of their beauties, but when I do, it is of some consolation to know that I can feed the clean, dry, crushed shells back to the ladies for use in making new shells. Unfortunately, not all eggshells are of the same structural quality; many factors contribute to shell quality from ambient temperature to stress and diet and I wondered whether the source of calcium in a hen’s diet, eggshells or oyster shell, mattered at all and learned that in fact, it does.
I often refer to my hens as little artists, and rightfully so: eggs are amazing masterpieces that require extraordinary resources to produce. I find it positively painful to crack some of their beauties, but when I do, it is of some consolation to know that I can feed the clean, dry, crushed shells back to the ladies for use in making new shells. Unfortunately, not all eggshells are of the same structural quality; many factors contribute to shell quality from ambient temperature to stress and diet and I wondered whether the source of calcium in a hen’s diet, eggshells or oyster shell, mattered at all and learned that in fact, it does. 
Eggshells are an economical source of dietary calcium, but I don’t ordinarily have enough eggshells to meet my hens’ nutritional demands, so I have always supplied them with oyster shells.
 I was surprised to learn that the size of the supplemental calcium source in laying hens matters. Let’s look at some of the facts about eggshell construction and dietary calcium to learn why that is the case. 
Of the approximately 25 hours needed to create an egg, 18-20 of them are dedicated to shell formation.
In the 18-20 hours needed to assemble an eggshell, a hen can use and replace the calcium it carries in its bloodstream up to 100 times.  (And we thought they were just sleeping at night!)
EGGSHELL & CALCIUM FACTS
  • Of the approximately 25 hours needed to create an egg, 18-20 of them are dedicated to shell formation.
  • Laying hens do most of the work of assembling eggshells overnight, which is when calcium is in highest demand. (And we thought they were just sleeping at night!)
  • In the 18-20 hours needed to assemble an eggshell, a hen can use and replace the calcium it carries in its bloodstream up to 100 times. 
  • Eggshells are composed of 97% calcium carbonate.
  • The calcium required to make eggshells must be provided in a hen’s diet while carbonate is produced within a hen’s body during the normal course of metabolism.
  • Calcium carbonate must be broken down into its components (calcium + carbonate) in the hen's intestine before the calcium is absorbed into the blood. The calcium is then either stored in the bones or routed directly to the shell gland via the bloodstream.
  • Laying hens require three times more dietary calcium than non-laying hens.
  • The most common sources of calcium carbonate fed to laying hens are oyster shell, ground limestone and eggshells.
Supplemental calcium should be provided to laying hens in a separate hopper, apart from their feed. I mix oyster shell with crushed, clean eggshells in a hopper.
Supplemental calcium should be provided to laying hens in a dedicated hopper or dish. 
I mix oyster shell with crushed, clean eggshells in mine. Find the DIY instructions for this hopper, HERE.
Calcium carbonate must be broken down into its components (calcium + carbonate) in the hen's intestine before the calcium is absorbed into the blood. The calcium is then either stored in the bones or routed directly to the shell gland via the bloodstream.
The storage facility for calcium in laying hens is a specialized bone called the medullary bone. Think: sponge-like bone filled with calcium inside a hard, hollow bone. (The hard bone is the cortical bone, which is responsible for strength and stability).
We can see a cortical leg bone in this photo.  Medullary bones of a laying hens are inside cortical bones.
We can see a cortical leg bone in this photo. 
Medullary bones of a laying hens are inside cortical bones.

Hens deprived of adequate amounts of dietary calcium will utilize the calcium stored within their cortical bones to produce eggshells, causing brittle bones that fracture easily and in the most severe cases, the inability to stand. This condition is known as caged-layer fatigue. Birds raised on the ground or on litter floors recycle calcium and phosphorus through consumption of feces, and do not have caged-layer fatigue.

Larger particles of calcium carbonate take longer to digest than smaller particles.
Larger particles of calcium carbonate take longer to digest than smaller particles.
In multiple studies, hens sought out large particles of oyster shell late in the day, prior to the most rapid period of shell formation overnight, in order to supply themselves with a continuous supply of calcium when it is most needed. 
In multiple studies, hens sought out large particles of oyster shell late in the day, prior to the most rapid period of shell formation overnight, in order to supply themselves with a continuous supply of calcium when it is most needed.
The ideal particle size of supplemental calcium ranges between 2mm and 5 mm. A minimum of 25% of supplemental calcium should be provided to laying hens in large particles. The take-home message: laying hens need oyster shell to make strong shells and meet their daily dietary need for calcium. Eggshells in addition to oyster shell are fine, but not sufficient by themselves. "A hen would have to eat the shells of two or three eggs a day to meet her calcium requirements."*
I mix whatever eggshells I have cleaned thoroughly, air-dried and crushed into my oyster shell hopper with the oyster shell.
Hens deprived of adequate amounts of dietary calcium will utilize the calcium stored within their cortical bones to produce eggshells, causing brittle bones that fracture easily and in the most severe cases, the inability to stand.
More information about feeding chickens at different ages can be found here.

Questions about funky eggs? Thin shell, no shell, double yolk, no yolk, misshapen, egg within an egg? Find out how they happen HERE!
Questions about funky eggs? Thin shell, no shell, double yolk, no yolk, misshapen, egg within an egg?
Sources, citations and further reading:
Practical Problems in Layer and Pullet Nutrition 
*Gail Damerow, Backyard Poultry Magazine Volume 9, Number 3 June/July, 2014
The Chicken Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick®

314 comments :

  1. Judi Dobson8/6/13, 8:20 PM

    This would greatly help lol

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  2. Margaret Marshall8/6/13, 8:22 PM

    I would love to get your book! I KNOW it will be packed full of information! You are so knowledgable I love to read anything you post! Thank you for sharing so much wonderful information!

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  3. Athena Reynolds8/6/13, 8:23 PM

    This book should be in every chicken owners home. I hope I win this!

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  4. Anne Wright-Cunniff8/6/13, 8:25 PM

    Interesting. I never knew the size was of any consequence. I'll be sure to keep that in mind next time I grind eggshell.

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  5. It sounds like this book would be a great addition to my Chicken Library!

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  6. Liz Oliver8/6/13, 8:27 PM

    I love your blog and your FB page. We've had a backyard flock now for almost 3 yrs. I love my girls. We do have one bantam roo, Dustin. He's a cochin frizzle and very cute.

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  7. Shahrukh Qureshi8/6/13, 8:27 PM

    Interesting I m using this technic for my hens some how :)

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  8. So love the book and would love to win it!....Thanks for having the giveaway for dummie!....LOL!.....:)

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  9. Rachel Luse8/6/13, 8:28 PM

    I would LOVE to win this book! especially since I bought it once and someone borrowed it and never brought it back *sigh*

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  10. Ashley Capps8/6/13, 8:29 PM

    I am definitely not a pro on chicken health so this would be wonderful for my flock and myself! :)

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  11. Anna Pinkham8/6/13, 8:29 PM

    what a great book, I definitely need that!!

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  12. Teri Stiffler Yates8/6/13, 8:38 PM

    My Mother-in-law raises back yard chickens and I would so love to win this book and give it to her :)

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  13. Loving your blog and love to win!.........Thanks for having the giveaway for dummie like me!......LOL!......brown26101@yahoo.com.....:)

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  14. Darlene Beckett Anderson8/6/13, 8:38 PM

    Cool book!

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  15. Patricia Stowe8/6/13, 8:38 PM

    Very interesting!
    sort of off topic...have you ever thought of or made a mosaic picture from your eggshells? You have such a wonderful array of colors.

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  16. Charlotte Reed8/6/13, 8:38 PM

    I just started having chickens a couple of months ago.. Even though I have learned a lot from your sight I could really use a copy of this book!

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  17. I SOO need Chicken Health for Dummies.

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  18. Interesting information. Thanks. I hope Blaze stays healthy even though he is doing that open mouth thing again.

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  19. As a brand, brand new chicken owner I would LOVE to win a copy of this book! It would be so beneficial to my wee flock!
    Thanks so much for such a great contest and a great webstie!

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  20. Elizabeth Lea Barnes8/6/13, 8:38 PM

    I would so love this book thanks for the giveaways

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  21. I just picked up some oyster shell for my girls. One of them has put out a few soft-ish shelled eggs and 3 shell-less eggs since she started laying last month. So much to learn!!

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  22. Love ready your blog ans facebook page, I have had my 16 girls and 1 boy for 1 and a half years now and have learnt so much from you! And from them! Thank you so much for the helpful tips and great photos! :)

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  23. Jamie Hunt8/6/13, 8:43 PM

    Really interesting!

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  24. Chicken Health for Dummies

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  25. Angel Macias Wiles8/6/13, 8:45 PM

    Would REALLY love to win this one!!!

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  26. Tina Favara8/6/13, 8:45 PM

    I love contests but I truly enjoy your articles.

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  27. Toodles' Mom8/6/13, 8:47 PM

    A good book for an aspiring chicken farmer...like me!
    -Sally

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  28. Beautiful photos!

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  29. Allison Phillips8/6/13, 8:51 PM

    This book would be great as I am a new chicken momma.

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  30. I get your newletter and have been getting it for a long time. want a copy thanks.

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  31. Tammy Lavalette8/6/13, 9:00 PM

    I hope to win this book! It will come in handy with my new flock.

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  32. I would love to add this book to my collection.

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  33. I'm a dummy with chickens. This book would come in handy (and your daily tips help a lot too).

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  34. Paula Hannay8/6/13, 9:03 PM

    This dummie would love to win the book. Very interesting, I am waiting for my first egg. Jemma started doing the squat a week ago. :)

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  35. Maria Campbell8/6/13, 9:04 PM

    This is very interesting. Can you give specific instructions on how to dry the eggs shells? Do you air dry them? I've been saving mine in the freezer for months. Some are from raw eggs and some are from hard boiled eggs. Does this matter? Thanks for the info!

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  36. I have raised chickens for years but I am always open to learning new things

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  37. Clauremore8/6/13, 9:07 PM

    Chicken Health for this dummie please :)

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  38. Krystal Stone8/6/13, 9:08 PM

    My girls are still too young to lay but they should start late next month. I've been giving them crushed egg shell in their pellets along with their grit. Sometimes I make a mash out of yogurt, pellets and flax seed to give them more calcium. I hope I'm doing right by my girls they seem happy and healthy.

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  39. TheChickenChick8/6/13, 9:11 PM

    Krystal, the eggshells should never be added into the feed. Put them in a separate dish, apart from the pellets so that the hens that need more calcium than is already in the layer feed can take it and the hens that do not require as much calcium do not get more than they need.

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  40. OK...I have a chicken that is a picky eater. She won't even touch meal worms, and has laid three hard shelled eggs, but only after I gave her egg shells. Most nights she lays soft shelled eggs from her roost. Sometimes two a night. She will not eat the oyster shells at all, and now does not like the egg shells. Any suggestions? My other hens have no problem producing amazing large hard shelled eggs. Help!

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  41. Very interesting! We also give our hens crushed eggshells & oyster shells. Someone told us a calcium/mineral block works better, but I haven't looked into it yet.

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  42. Angel Dixon8/6/13, 9:13 PM

    Great information.

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  43. TheChickenChick8/6/13, 9:14 PM

    I wash mine and then just allow them to air dry. When dry, I put them in a jar and crush them until the jar is full. There is really no need to dry them in the oven and it doesn't matter if the eggs were previously raw or cooked. The important thing is that they are clean and dry. I'll even put them outside on the deck in a sheet pan in the sun if it isn't a particularly windy day (learned the hard way once that they'll fly away. lol!)

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  44. TheChickenChick8/6/13, 9:14 PM

    Welcome to chicken-keeping!!

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  45. TheChickenChick8/6/13, 9:15 PM

    Thank you, Tina. ♥

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  46. Don Harvey8/6/13, 9:15 PM

    Please enter me for this great book.

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  47. Kaitlin0008/6/13, 9:15 PM

    i'm very new to chicken keeping and my chicks are young yet. I've been collecting egg shells to have stocked for when the girls need them in the future. A book with information and tons of interesting details would be awesome!!

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  48. TheChickenChick8/6/13, 9:17 PM

    That's quite common and normal in new layers until they get their reproductive system up to full speed. http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/01/how-hen-makes-egg-egg-oddities.html

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  49. Susan Christensen-Grandy8/6/13, 9:20 PM

    roxiestubbs@yahoo.com How timely can you be. My hens will start laying soon. Thank you.

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  50. Karrie Sedlmeyer8/6/13, 9:21 PM

    this was really informative for me.....another 8 to 10 weeks till egg-laying, so this was really timely info!! many thanks!

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  51. TheChickenChick8/6/13, 9:38 PM

    I have thought about it, Patricia. Time, however, is not on my side. :(

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  52. TheChickenChick8/6/13, 9:40 PM

    You don't really want to leave eggshells in large particle form, Anne, because the chickens can develop an egg-eating habit.

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  53. TheChickenChick8/6/13, 9:40 PM

    This is a great book, Margaret, but I did not write it. I'm happy to host the giveaway though! :)

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  54. Good information, I really enjoy your blog, seems like I am always reading up on chickens or other farm animals. The book sound like it would be very helpful. Would love it. Thanks marring@gmail.com

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  55. Esther widgren8/6/13, 9:46 PM

    Very informative article! And timely too. I just had my BO lay a rubber egg :-)

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  56. What a great giveaway. I'm sure there is a lot of really good information . Would love to win it :)

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  57. I am learning some thing new everyday thank you so much, it can only help to make my girls happier.

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  58. I would love this book to learn more about my new flock. They should be laying within the next 2 weeks. I have been saving my eggshells for when they are finally laying. Thanks Kathy for all your info and fun pics.

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  59. Becky Buzenski8/6/13, 9:57 PM

    Looks like a useful book.
    Our girls should start laying in October. Love all the info you provide!

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  60. Linda Bober8/6/13, 10:07 PM

    Mine just started laying this week and I got 4 small eggs and today there was a soft shell one that she smashed by sitting on it. I can't find oyster shell anywhere but do have diatomaceous earth. Is that the same and if so, what's the best way to give it to them?
    Ps-would love to win the book :)

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  61. I would love, love, love to have this book. Just started a couple of months ago with our chickens. Where is a good place to by organic, non GMO feed for them? What do you feed yours? Love your blog

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  62. Kim Warfield Weber8/6/13, 10:11 PM

    I have been reading your blog religiously plus researching "raising chickens" on line, purchasing magazines etc. Every time I read a new article I learn something new. I just started giving my 5 month old girls oyster shell + egg shell. I can already tell a difference in the thickness of the shells. I do keep finding a soft shell, usually ripped up about 1x a week or so. I haven't determined which girl is laying these, but today I found a totally formed egg with just one soft side, so I think it's getting better.

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  63. Kellie Pittsley8/6/13, 10:15 PM

    I would love to win this book!! I need all the information I can get!!

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  64. Meredith Johnston8/6/13, 10:21 PM

    My ladies have just started laying. This would be a great resource!

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  65. I love your contests! Thank you for all of your advice!

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  66. TheChickenChick8/6/13, 10:23 PM

    Where do you live, Beth?

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  67. TheChickenChick8/6/13, 10:24 PM

    Diatomaceous earth has NOTHING to do with calcium or eggshell production. Every feed store carries oyster shell, Linda and it is very inexpensive to purchase.

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  68. Diana Presley8/6/13, 10:24 PM

    I am new to chicken keeping, and I'm sure this book would be helpful.

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  69. We could use this book at the barn =)

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  70. TheChickenChick8/6/13, 10:26 PM

    Just be certain that she is being fed layer feed, Denise. It has calcium in it and if she needs more, she will eat the oyster shells. If she is a new layer, those rubber eggs are very common.

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  71. Laura Windham8/6/13, 10:28 PM

    A book for this chicken health dummy could go a long way in helping with my girls, BUT a book would never replace my go-to-friend and her very helpful articles, thanks Kathy.

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  72. Crysta Ladwig8/6/13, 10:29 PM

    Looks like a really good book. I'll have to think about putting it on my Christmas list :)

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  73. Linda Bober8/6/13, 10:31 PM

    When I asked at one feed store, the lady looked at me like I was nuts and she's the one that told me to use the D.E.
    I'll see if I can order it online.

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  74. I could sure use any extra info on chickens This book would be great to win

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  75. Karen Lawrence8/6/13, 10:36 PM

    book

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  76. Wyone Manes8/6/13, 10:36 PM

    Would like to win your book, just started keeping chickens in May.
    Do you feed your chickens mush if so what is it? Trying to learn all I can, I bought 18 pullets and the man cheated me he said they were 4 months old and all hens, 15 were roosters could not even give them away. My 3 hens have not started laying but have been reading about mush need to know more. Thanks for any help.

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  77. Alyssa Blankenship8/6/13, 10:40 PM

    This is so my type of book! Are there pictures?! ;)

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  78. Anne Wright-Cunniff8/6/13, 10:47 PM

    Hmmmm. I wondered about that. Thanks for the heads-up!

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  79. Lois Harris8/6/13, 10:53 PM

    Our chickens have been a wonderful source of education and amusement. We would really appreciate this book.

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  80. TheChickenChick8/6/13, 10:59 PM

    There are, Alyssa.

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  81. Cheryl Lindsay8/6/13, 11:03 PM

    Our little flock is growing and I would Love to own this book!! Thanks for the giveaways, and great information!!
    Cheryl

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  82. Patricia Stowe8/6/13, 11:04 PM

    I know what you mean. :) There's just not enough hours in the day.

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  83. I would like to enter the book drawing. I am currently putting together a chicken first aid kit...learning the hard way, I think our mule kicked one of our pullets and she has a big gash on her head, she seems to be ok otherwise, I have cleaned the the wound and applied antibiotic ointment, keeping her in a Dog crate that has been set up as a chicken hospital. She has been quiet and cuddly. She is eating and drinking ok. Are there any other steps I should take? No, I don't have a vet.
    .

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  84. The book would be a welcome resource. I am just starting out and need all the help I can get.

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  85. TheChickenChick8/7/13, 12:03 AM

    It sounds like you've got it under control, Debbie. Just keep an eye out for infection. Don't put her back into the flock until she's fully healed and understand that there is a chance that she could have internal injuries that may manifest themselves at some point.

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  86. Wingschicks8/7/13, 12:10 AM

    I would love to have a chicken health book. My girls are doing well, but I should have this in case something happens.

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  87. Thanks for the giveaway and for the great info on calcium. We had been throwing the eggshells in the compost, whole, where the chickens would find them. We're gonna start rinsing and crushing them now.

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  88. Rebecca Lewis Lindgren8/7/13, 12:16 AM

    I am just starting out...this would be a great book to add to my stash. I so appreciate your blog. I have learned so much. Tomorrow is the first day of coop training....the weather is going to be in the 60's so I thought it was the perfect time.

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  89. I'd love one of these books because I am always trying to learn as much as I can to keep my little babies healthy.

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  90. Julie Denise Dunk Liberti8/7/13, 12:29 AM

    I think I worry to much about crushing the egg shells into very small particles. I use a rolling pin & go over them, & over them, & over them, & over them...you get the idea. From the pictures you posted and the information in the article, I don't need to worry about them being that tiny. Good to know! With our last hatch 4 days ago, we are sitting at 62 chickens and I would really appreciate a solid "go-to" book to have on hand. Thanks!

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  91. would luvvv this book. we have 18 chickens of various ages, but none old enough to lay eggs yet. we are senior citizens and trying to do from memory of 40 yrs ago or more.

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  92. Valerie Nelson8/7/13, 1:04 AM

    Having a book like that to read would be great! It is filled with important information that we all could use. would love to win one.

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  93. Jessica Dowdy8/7/13, 1:19 AM

    I am entering the book giveaway. I try to do everything as organic/natural as possible, I really hope this book gives alternate health options!

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  94. We reuse egg shells here!

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  95. Erin Nicole Nelson8/7/13, 1:31 AM

    I love that my son enjoys sitting down to read your blog and debate with me how the information applies to our flock!

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  96. Sandra Strahan8/7/13, 2:05 AM

    Looks like a great book and would help me out with my chicken family:)

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  97. Elizabeth Johnson8/7/13, 2:17 AM

    This article was really informative. Thanks for sharing.

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  98. Shel Reitmajer8/7/13, 2:40 AM

    I would love to have this book. It would really help my caring for my 13 chickens.

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  99. Hassan Fam8/7/13, 3:31 AM

    Would love this book

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  100. Only had my girl's for 6 months & they have bought so much into my families lives. Although our first lot of 8 chicks; only 2 were hens. Have some newbies getting pecked by the 2 older girls so I have seperated them for the time being then I will try to intoduce between a barrier. Would love a copy of this book to help me on my discovery. :)

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  101. Richard Schmitt8/7/13, 8:08 AM

    Awesome giveaway, everyone needs a book like this :)

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  102. Debra Smith Neal8/7/13, 8:33 AM

    I am still a newby and could really use this book! Thanks Kathy for all the info you provide to us.

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  103. Would love to add this to my library, such a good blog post by the way!!!

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  104. Charity Doornbos8/7/13, 9:20 AM

    Thanks for the contest and the info! (-: I do try to give my ladies the best of everything. But I don't see them eating the oyster shells that I've provided for them and some of the egg shells seem week. Wondering what else I can do. I do give them shells when I have them too.

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  105. I love you chicken lady in a non weird or slighty odd way. But your info is very cool and good advice. You have made my desision to get back yard hens. Please may I have this book

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  106. Susan Morford8/7/13, 10:03 AM

    I would love to win the book. We got our first egg yesterday!! We installed a separate feeder for oyster shell and I have had a long time backyard chicken keeper tell me that the egg shells must be parched in the oven before giving them back to the chickens. Do you know anything about that?

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  107. Nicole Weiss8/7/13, 10:19 AM

    Sounds like a good book, love great tips and this blog!

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  108. Sarah Eller8/7/13, 10:25 AM

    Please enter us! TY for the oppertunity!

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  109. My hens are just now laying this book would be nice to have!

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  110. Sounds like a terrific resource.

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  111. That book would be so handy!

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  112. Terry Kessinger8/7/13, 11:20 AM

    The more I read your posts, Kathy, the more I realize how much I DON'T know! I had no idea about oyster shells! Thanks!

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  113. Great info, as always!

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  114. Cotton Carol8/7/13, 11:44 AM

    Thanks for the interesting information! I certainly would enjoy this book...

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  115. Joann OLeary8/7/13, 11:47 AM

    I feed my girls egg shells and have a constant supply of oyster shells and still I have one girls who has a very thin shelled egg. None of the shells are as thick as they once were. Would this have anything to do with them getting older? I have about 20 new girls who should start laying in another month or so.

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  116. This book would be so helpful! We are definitely 'dummies' when it comes to figuring out what our 'girls' need. We definitely don't want to do the wrong thing but we don't have many resources to find out what to do yet. Thank you SO MUCH for your blog!!

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  117. Susan Kilstrom8/7/13, 12:01 PM

    This book would be very helpful! I am trying to learn all I can about how to deal with health problems and also how to prevent them! susansbaxter@yahoo.com

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  118. Wow! I would love to have this book for my flock of friends :)

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  119. This book would be fantastic! I'm just starting out so I'm trying to absorb all the info that I can!

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  120. Cindy Knighten8/7/13, 12:08 PM

    Thank you for the contest!

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  121. Karen White8/7/13, 12:14 PM

    This would be a great resource to have :)

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  122. would love this ty for all your cchicken tips

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  123. Carol Sibbel8/7/13, 1:27 PM

    Thanks Kathy, I am continually learning new and interesting chicken facts from your blogs. Knowing more makes raising chickens that much more rewarding.

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  124. I just absolutely adore Rachel! How precious is the pic of her in this post?! I think I'm her #1 fan <3 I *squeee* each time you include a pic of her in your blog posts or on FB ^_^

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  125. Pamela Brooking Harris8/7/13, 2:47 PM

    I would love this book! I love reading about how to care for my chickens and making sure they are healthy and getting what they need. I love to learn new ideas on how to raise them and this book would be great for that!

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  126. Arliss Friend-Wells8/7/13, 3:06 PM

    I'm a new chicken mama and the book would be a wonderful go-to info source!

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  127. Arliss Friend-Wells8/7/13, 3:16 PM

    Whenever I put egg shells out for my three layers, the 16-week-old pullets gobble them down. They've been doing this for a few weeks so I've not been putting shells in their pen. They don't eat the oyster shell, though. They will start the layer food in a couple of weeks but would the egg shells be unsafe for them to eat? Thanks.

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  128. hannahking008/7/13, 3:17 PM

    I would love this book! It could be my back up (after you:) in chicken keeping needs!

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  129. Susanne Helms8/7/13, 3:57 PM

    Speaking of egg shells, I have 6 young hens, 3 of which are producing good sound eggs. Another is having difficulty; I have found soft shell eggs on the poop board in the morning twice. The last 2 mornings I have found yolk only, no shell. Everyone appears very healthy, foraging, eating, socializing, etc. What gives? Have you had this problem before? They are getting layer feed and have free access to oyster shells.

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  130. Would love to win the reference book!

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  131. Those Black Copper Marans chicks are totally adorable. Good to know that they recommend this book! :-)

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  132. One can never have too many resources, such as this one.

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  133. I would like to win this. I just started my flock. They are 2 months old.

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  134. disqus_xOwlG9GOcU8/7/13, 5:05 PM

    I'd like to win this book. I'm just starting and my flock is 2 months old now.

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  135. Lisa Dowdy Lampman8/7/13, 5:26 PM

    As a new chicken mom I could sure use this book!!

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  136. I would like to enter both drawings if possible. I have my hands full these days and could use all the help I can get with my chicken family.

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  137. This book is on my Christmas wish list. I'm trying to learn about chicken diseases so that I can take action when things happen. So far, I've learned the hard way and the internet.

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  138. I would love to read Chicken Health for Dummies! Oh, I hope I win! ...Thanks, Kathy, for your informative and super-helpful website. You're my first stop for chicken questions.

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  139. Very excited to enter another give away ... *crosses fingers again*

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  140. Joyce Zaleski8/7/13, 9:18 PM

    I would love to be entered into your giveaway. I too feed their shells back to them. Thanks so much for the helpful information :)

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  141. Barbara Thorbjornsson8/7/13, 9:27 PM

    I would love to have this book

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  142. TheChickenChick8/7/13, 9:28 PM

    That's quite common and normal in new laying hens, Susanne. Here is a blog article that should give you some peace of mind on the subject: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/01/how-hen-makes-egg-egg-oddities.html

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  143. I would love to win!

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  144. TheChickenChick8/7/13, 9:32 PM

    At 16 weeks, it probably won't hurt them, but there is no rush, Arliss. They will eat the oyster shell, no worries. I rarely see my hens eating it, but the hopper sure does get emptied. It won't disappear as quickly as feed, but rest assured, if they need the extra calcium, they will e at the oyster shell.

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  145. Love all if your great advice, you are a tremendous asset
    to new chicken parents!

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  146. TheChickenChick8/7/13, 9:34 PM

    Autumn temperatures already?! Good for coop training, but not so much for summertime. :)

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  147. Rebecca Kober8/7/13, 9:35 PM

    What a great resource book! Hope to win.

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  148. Sue Dion Leighton8/7/13, 9:37 PM

    I so need this book :)!! thanks Kathy for the great info!

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  149. Laurie Matson8/7/13, 9:37 PM

    Great book!

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  150. TheChickenChick8/7/13, 9:38 PM

    That's awesome, Erin. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  151. TheChickenChick8/7/13, 9:41 PM

    I rarely witness my hens eating the oyster shells, Charity. They do not eat it as often as feed, but they know when they need extra and will eat it when they require more calcium than is in their layer feed. As long as you are giving them layer ration, you're not giving them too many treats or scraps and and the oyster shell is available to them, they'll be fine.

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  152. TheChickenChick8/7/13, 9:42 PM

    That's awesome, good for you, Lisa!

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  153. Sounds like a book every chicken owner should have. Thank you for all the informative info you post. Glad blaze is up and around again!!

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  154. This would be a great reference book to have.
    I follow with GFC

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  155. Tina Lilley Mairs8/7/13, 9:52 PM

    can never have enough books with great info!

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  156. Leah Wilson8/7/13, 9:55 PM

    I realy enjoy learning about the uses of eggshells:)

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  157. Carla Chabot8/7/13, 10:14 PM

    one of these days, I WILL win one of these giveaways! lol...

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  158. Brandon Marshall8/7/13, 10:34 PM

    Would love to add this to my chicken books. Need this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSWqMC8OqMw

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  159. Kim Warfield Weber8/7/13, 10:48 PM

    This book looks like it would be very good reading!

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  160. Trying to learn all I can before I get my girls! Thanks for all your posts!

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  161. Wanted to enter for the Chicken Health for Dummies book. It would be of much help in our very new but big flock of chickens! Thanks again for all the helpful tips and great daily pictures you post!

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  162. Laura Johnson8/7/13, 11:49 PM

    a very timely post, I was sure my girl Gemma was egg bound... she then laid the biggest egg I've seen! Upping her calcium intake now though to help things out.

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  163. I'm in it for the chicks8/8/13, 1:07 AM

    I just entered a dozen of my girls eggs at the county fair! I'm so proud of them, my beautiful eggs and my wonderful chickens. I just started keeping chickens. My son gave me a hen house and 2 pullets for Mothers Day. One of the best days of my life. I spent hours reading your blog; dreaming of the day I could keep chickens of my very own. My heart is full.

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  164. Kenna Rogers8/8/13, 1:24 AM

    Very interesting!! Thanks so much for always educating us!!

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  165. Joyce Scott8/8/13, 5:56 AM

    Great info!

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  166. Love learning about what i can do to improve the quality of life for my girls, this could come in handy!

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  167. Melinda Vaikasiene8/8/13, 7:23 AM

    so glad to see that you have "larger pieces of eggs to give your chickens, I have been crushing and freezing ours, but haven't given them to the crew, as they are just turning 20 wks now and no eggs. Just need to create the hopper now and get it up.

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  168. Good idea about egg shells! Also good giveaway with that Health book!
    graceinapril@gmail.com

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  169. Melvin Howard8/8/13, 9:31 AM

    You should write a book!!!

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  170. Chris Chapman8/8/13, 11:41 AM

    Thank you! I've been wondering about supplemental calcium. My girls will be old enough to lay this fall.

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  171. Great book! I have a fear about feeding the shells back to the chickens because I have heard that may cause them to eat their own eggs? I should be safe if I do as you do and clean them, air dry them, and finely crush them? It would be a great way to recycle the egg shells!

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  172. Michael Gambino8/8/13, 2:06 PM

    Looks like a good source for information! Would be good to have!

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  173. Great info, thanks again...and of course subscribed!

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  174. Ken-Melissa Clark8/8/13, 2:33 PM

    Very interesting stuff...put me in for the give-away too! I always love researching...I feel better when I know the "why"s.

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  175. Barb St Clair-Borrero8/8/13, 2:44 PM

    This book sounds like a great resource, next to you of course! Please enter me into the drawing.

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  176. Learned a lot so far, just need it in print so I can remember it all...sometimes I can't remember what I had for breakfast! :o)

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  177. JessicaHughett8/8/13, 8:23 PM

    Your post and giveaways are amazing! Thank you!

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  178. Denise Allison Magil8/8/13, 8:48 PM

    3 eggs today all good looking!!

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  179. Katie Brown Stafford8/9/13, 2:15 AM

    There is so much to learn, I would love the book. Thanks

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  180. Anthony Shand8/9/13, 10:39 AM

    Would love to win this book so I can help keep my flock as healthy as possible !

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  181. Whitney Nicole Smith8/9/13, 11:23 AM

    This would be great to have on hand! :o)

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  182. ty for chance

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  183. Christine Meagher8/9/13, 12:11 PM

    Loving all you do to give us beginners the help we need. ")

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  184. TheChickenChick8/9/13, 1:04 PM

    It is not necessary to bake eggshells in the oven. As long as the shells are cleaned and dried completely, they are fine to use.

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  185. TheChickenChick8/9/13, 1:06 PM

    Great question, Joann. Yes, the age of the hens plays a role in the integrity of the shell. As hens age, the eggs get bigger, but the amount of calcium carbonate available is the same as it was for smaller eggs, which causes shells to be thinner. There's nothing that can be done about that.

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  186. TheChickenChick8/9/13, 1:12 PM

    What a wonderful gift and thoughtful son! Good luck at the fair!

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  187. TheChickenChick8/9/13, 1:18 PM

    Thanks for the vote of confidence, Melvin. ;)

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  188. TheChickenChick8/9/13, 1:19 PM

    HA! Welcome to my world! :D

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  189. Becky Rathjen8/9/13, 2:16 PM

    loved the article on calcium and oyster shell, I found the picture of the chicken skeleton weirdly neat (where did you get such a thing) Would love to win the book... :)

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  190. Hayley Ahern8/9/13, 3:00 PM

    Very interesting info. :-) thank you

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  191. kristen reinhardt8/9/13, 3:37 PM

    Oooooo...this would be a grat addition to our raising chickens for dummies book! Thanks for all the amazing info!

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  192. Dawn E. Sarver8/9/13, 6:06 PM

    i love your blog/site i learn so much!

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  193. Lisa Spencer-Williamson8/9/13, 7:10 PM

    you can never know too much about your chicken! would LOVE this book!

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  194. I learned something new today.Thank you. Now I am off to the feed store to get my girls some crushed oyster shells (I was depending on crushed eggshells to provide calcium - now I know it isn't enough) Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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  195. Candy Wilhelm Distel8/9/13, 9:00 PM

    I am fairly new to chickens and I am learning so much from your blog. Thank you very much!!

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  196. Ok, thanks. I have been taking her out everyday for awhile, and she stays by my side and is very skiddish of the others, and follows me inside when I go. Thanks for the support. I really appreciate hearing from you. Have a great day and good luck with your town issues.

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  197. Bunny Lee Ryan8/9/13, 10:52 PM

    Are there instructions on how to make a calcium hopper? My hens do not care for oyster shells. I give them crushed eggshells, but recently read on a blog that these eggshells should be boiled, dried & crushed before giving to the hens. Is boiling really necessary?

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  198. TheChickenChick8/9/13, 10:58 PM

    Thanks Becky.

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