Can Chickens Eat Crab Shells? Simple Answer & Feeding Tips

Written By Jill Taylor

Can chickens eat crab shells? Yes, most chickens love crab shells and will eat any variety. Crab shells are a great source of calcium, and even though you may think they are too hard for chickens, they will have no problem eating and digesting them.

There are a couple of things to remember when preparing crab shells and feeding them to your chickens. Read on to find out everything you need to know about feeding crab shells to your chickens.

can chickens eat crab shells

What are Crab Shells?

Crab shells are the exoskeleton of crabs and lobsters. They protect their delicate muscles and organs from predators.

Depending on where you source your crab shells, they may be hard or soft. Hard crab shells such as those found in Dungeness crabs will be very difficult for chickens to eat and digest, so it is best to feed them soft-shelled crabs such as blue crabs or stone crabs.

If these types of crab shells are not available near you, then it is fine to feed your chickens any type of crab shell they can break open easily.


Can Chickens Eat Crab Shells?

Yes, crab shells are safe for chickens to eat. They are highly nutritious and packed with calcium.

When feeding crab shells to your chickens, you need to make sure they are finely crushed before being fed to the flock. Crushed shells will be easier for your hens to digest and will boost their calcium intake significantly.

Are Crab Shells Safe for Chickens?

crab shells

Once again, chickens can eat crab shells. However, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. If you feed your chickens crab shells every day, they will be getting more calcium than they need and this could lead to problems in the long run.

You don’t want to turn your chickens into ostriches; you just want them to get enough calcium in their diet to keep them healthy and lay lots of delicious eggs for you.

Health Benefits of Crab Shells for Chickens

Crab shells are a fantastic source of calcium for chickens and their eggshells.

If your hens don’t get enough calcium, they won’t be able to absorb it from their feed or lay healthy eggs. This can lead to poor egg production and even soft-shelled eggs that the hens cannot produce at all.

Once you’ve feasted on crabs and picked out their meat, gather up those empty shells and crush them into smaller pieces. Feed these crushed shells back to your flock as a special treat and watch as they chow down on their new favorite snack.

Are there any Risks in Feeding Crab Shells to Chickens?

flock of chickens

Crab shells are a great source of calcium. However, if you feed your hens too many crab shells, their diet can become unbalanced and they will receive more calcium than they need.

Over time this could lead to problems such as egg binding, which occurs when hens have been fed too much calcium for long periods of time and cannot pass an egg from their uterus into the vaginal tract without assistance from a chicken keeper or veterinarian.

How to Prepare Crab Shells for Chickens?

You can prepare the crab shell yourself if you have a meat grinder.

Simply place a few pieces of broken-up crab shells into a food processor or blender and pulse until it has been ground into tiny pieces similar in size to bread crumbs.

You can also give chickens whole pieces of crab shell, they will enjoy playing with them and crushing them in their beaks. The pieces will eventually break into smaller bits, but it may take your chickens a while to get through larger shells.

How Often Should I Feed my Chickens Crab Shells?

chicken feeding

Crab shells are incredibly nutritious, but too many could upset your birds’ diets.

If you feed your chickens crab shells every day, they will be getting more calcium than they need and this will cause health problems down the line.

You should only ever feed your chickens crushed crab shells as an occasional treat, not on a daily basis.

Can Chickens Eat Crab Meat?

Yes, chickens can eat crab meat.

The only reason that you would not want to feed your hens any type of crab meat is if they are carrying a heavy infestation of internal parasites.

You should avoid feeding your flock anything from the sea or from areas with polluted water because this could make them sick and pass the parasites onto you through their eggs.

Do I Need to Cook Crab Meat Before Feeding?

If you have already made sure that the crab meat is parasite-free by using an FDA-approved treatment for internal parasites before cooking it, then no, there is no need to cook it first. Your hens will enjoy some fresh crab meat just as much as some leftovers scraps of crab that have already been cooked.

Can Chickens Eat Other Types of Seafood Shells?

While crab shells are an excellent calcium source for your flock, you can feed chickens any type of seafood or fish shell that you have available.

If your hens are accustomed to eating crab shells only every once in a while, they will enjoy any other type of seafood shell because it is a special treat.

Be sure to use this opportunity as a way to clean out the freezer and clear out any leftovers from holiday feasts or extra pieces of fish lying around.

Whole fish heads make great treats too!

Can Chickens Eat Lobster Shells?

Yes, chickens can eat lobster shells.

There are some slight differences in the nutritional content of a lobster shell versus a crab shell, but they are basically interchangeable.

You will find that both types of shells have lots of calcium and your hens will love getting to enjoy these new treats too.

Can Chickens Eat Shrimp Shells?

It is not recommended that you feed your hens shrimp shells because they contain very little calcium and it would be better if you fed them another type of seafood shell instead.

Feeding your hens different types of seafood each week will provide them with great variety in their diets while ensuring that they never get bored.

Shrimp shells also do not grind up into small enough bits for egg-laying chickens to get through easily, so do not expect them to have the same effect.

Can Chickens Eat Oyster Shells?

Yes, chickens can eat oyster shells too.

There is a very slight difference in the calcium content between a lobster shell and an oyster shell but they are closely related species and your hens will love getting these new treats.

Oyster shells grind up into small enough pieces more quickly than shrimp shells for egg-laying chickens to enjoy, without getting caught on their beaks like bigger chunks of lobster shells would.

What unusual foods can chickens eat apart from crab shells?

Chickens are known for their diverse and often surprising dietary preferences. From egg shells to coffee grounds, rocks to moldy food, and even diatomaceous earth, these unexpected food items can provide various nutritional benefits and contribute to the overall well-being of your flock. Let’s explore each of these items and uncover whether they make suitable additions to your chickens’ diet.

Egg Shells

Egg shells might seem counter-intuitive for chickens to consume since they lay eggs themselves. However, feeding chickens crushed egg shells can be highly beneficial. Egg shells are primarily composed of calcium carbonate, a vital mineral for maintaining strong bones and eggshell production in hens. By offering ground or finely crushed egg shells, you provide an additional source of calcium that aids in egg development and overall skeletal health for your flock.

Read More: Can Chickens Eat Egg Shells? Unscrambling The Truth

Coffee Grounds

Chickens should not be fed coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are not suitable for chickens to consume as they contain caffeine, which can be harmful to their health. It is important to avoid offering coffee grounds to chickens to ensure their well-being and avoid potential negative effects.

Read More: Can Chickens Eat Coffee Grounds? The Surprising Truth Revealed


Rocks may not be considered food, but chickens have a peculiar habit of swallowing small pebbles or grit. This behavior, known as “grit-feeding,” is instinctive and aids in the digestion of food in their gizzard. The gizzard, a muscular organ in the chicken’s digestive system, uses swallowed stones to grind up food particles, enhancing nutrient absorption. Providing access to small, smooth rocks or purchasing commercially available poultry grit ensures your chickens have the necessary materials to support their digestion.

Read More: Do Chickens Eat Rocks? Unraveling The Gritty Truth

Moldy Food

While it is generally advised to avoid feeding chickens moldy food, they can occasionally consume small amounts without significant harm. Chickens have a relatively strong digestive system that can tolerate some mold toxins present in decaying food. However, it is crucial to exercise caution and remove any visibly moldy or spoiled portions before offering food to your flock.

Read More: Can Chickens Eat Moldy Food? Uncovering Facts You Need To Know

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a powdery substance composed of fossilized remains of diatoms, microscopic algae with hard shells. Food-grade DE, which is free from harmful additives, can be added to chickens’ diet for various benefits. DE acts as a natural dewormer by damaging the exoskeleton of internal parasites, helping to control their population. Additionally, DE can assist in preventing mite and lice infestations in the chicken coop by dehydrating and killing these pests.

Read More: Can Chickens Eat Diatomaceous Earth? Uncovering The Truth

Can Chickens Eat Crab Shells – Final Thoughts

It is true that chickens love crab shells. They are a great source of calcium and some say they help keep the beak strong, but there can also be downsides to feeding them too many crab shells.

It’s best for you and your chicken if you feed it less than one per day. Just to be safe, you should never feed your chickens raw crab shells.

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