Chickens are perfect for reducing the food waste around your home; they eat anything, and pretty much everything is safe for them to eat. 

But is feeding them crab shells going too far? We don’t have a lot at our home, but after a home-cooked Valentine’s Day dinner, we wondered what to do with the remains of our shells. 

Like everything else, can chickens eat crab shells?

Chickens can eat crab shells safely; they’ll peck down the sharp edges, but if you’re worried, crush the shells to make them smaller. Crab shells provide extra calcium, which is vital for laying eggs, and crab meat is packed with nutrients like protein and Omega-3s for overall health. 

Let’s dig into the detail around crab shells and chickens, including why you may want to use them and how to use them safely. 

can chickens eat crab shells

Can Chickens Eat Crab Shells? Are They Safe?

Many folks get nervous about seashells, crab shells, and lobster shells for their chickens. 

I get it; I was nervous too. 

Do the bacteria pose a danger? Are the shells a choking or digestive hazard? 

It turns out the chicken’s digestive tract of steel wins again. 

From the bacteria to the sharpness of the shells, these tasty treats pose no threat to your chickens. 

In fact, they offer a lot of value!

There are only two concerns to be aware of when feeding crab shells to your hens: 

  • Rotting – If the shells are filled with rotted or dead things, this is bad. 
  • Size – Chickens will peck the shells down to eatable pieces, but it’s OK to help them along by breaking them down. 

Can Baby Chicks Eat Crab Shells?

Baby chicks will get a lot of good from crab shells, but it makes sense to worry about these little fluff balls and pecking these shells. 

In general, if a chick (or chicken) can fit it in their mouth, then it’s safe. 

If you want to feed shells to chicks (and the calcium is great for them, too!), then you need to break it down. 

Grind it and chop it down to the same size as grits or starter crumbles. 

Digesting won’t be a problem as long as they can fit it in their beak. 

They don’t do as well at pecking them to pieces as adults do, so be ready to help out. 

Crab And Crab Shell Health Information

The crab shells offer a lot of calcium, ranging from 40-70% calcium total. 

That’s a high-impact source of nutrition hard to replicate with commercial feed. 

Crabmeat is also great for the chickens, and it offers a wider variety. 

Of course, it’s also expensive (and delicious), so don’t feel bad if you don’t offer the meat to your chickens. 

Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll find in 100g of crab meat. 

Nutritional ElementAmount
Fat0.7 g
Cholesterol 97 mg
Sodium 395 mg
Potassium259 mg

Source: Nutritionix

Can Chickens Eat Lobster Shells?

Like crab shells, lobster shells are a great treat for chickens. 

The meat is good too, but it’s crazy expensive, so I wouldn’t give it to my chickens (is that shell-fish of me?). 

The shell would normally go to waste, but it doesn’t have to now!

It’s also packed with calcium and easy to feed to your birds. 

If you live near a fishing port, reach out to local restaurants or fisheries to see if you can get their leftover shells for your chickens. 

In many cases, they’ll be happy to share (although some may ask for a minimal fee). 

Lobster shells tend to be softer, so it’s fine to either throw them in whole or crushed to make it easier. 

Benefits Of Crab Shells For Chickens

We’ve touched on the benefits, but let’s break it down here.

Hopefully, you’ll see why so many chicken farmers have a deal with crab fishers to get as many shells as they can. 

High In Calcium

Calcium, calcium, calcium. 

We’ve said crab shells are high in calcium (and they are!), but what’s the big deal?

On top of building stronger bones to help keep your chickens in working order, it does these things too: 

  • Makes stronger eggshells
  • Helps with making more eggs
  • Strengthens circulatory system
  • Supports the nervous system
  • Aids in digestion

Usually Cheap

Crabmeat is expensive; the shells are not. 

Restaurants and fishing groups toss out the shells all the time. 

Reach out to them and ask what they do with the shells. 

Often, they’ll either give it to you or sell it to you for dirt cheap. 

Now, you’re saving money and supplementing your chicken’s diet.

High In Protein And Omega-3

While the shells themselves don’t contain much protein or omega-3s, which are great for eggs and overall health, the meat is packed with them. 

Not many people give the meat directly to their chickens, but there is always a little bit of meat left in the cracks and corners of the shells. 

Believe me, your chickens will find each and every bit of sweetmeat in there. 

Even the small amount left over will make a huge difference in their health (and produce better-tasting eggs, too!). 

Lowers Food Waste

From an environmental perspective, I love keeping chickens. 

By reducing the amount of eggs we buy, we do a little to stop the massive commercial chicken farms and their waste. 

On a personal level, we can reduce the waste we make ourselves by giving our food scraps (like crab shells) to our chickens. 

How To Feed Crab Shells To Chickens

There’s no special way to feed crab shells to chickens. 

Leave them intact and throw them in the chicken run or crush them into pieces for easier eating; either is fine. 

Adult chickens don’t need help in breaking them apart. 

Their beaks are tough and will have no problem pecking the shells into eatable pieces.