Can Chickens Eat Shrimp Tails & Shells?

Shrimp tails and shells aren’t generally consumed by humans, as we don’t really care for the taste or crunch — which is a shame because we go through so many of them! But, because these parts of the shrimp are just made up of dried protein and chitin, which contains calcium, it got me thinking.

Can chickens eat shrimp tails and shrimp shells?

As it turns out I wasn’t the only one thinking they might actually be healthy for your backyard chickens. Let’s look at whether chickens can eat shrimp tails, the nutritional benefits for chickens, and what to be aware of when feeding your chickens shrimp.

Can Chickens Eat Shrimp Tails

The average adult chicken needs a healthy diet that’s made of about 16% protein. They also need calcium to prevent bone injury, decrease the risk of osteoporosis, and of course, to continue laying healthy eggs regularly. 

As it turns out, shrimp tails are made of protein and calcium, which means shrimp tails and shrimp shells are not only safe to eat, they are also considered healthy for your chickens to consume in normal amounts. 

So, chickens can eat both cooked shrimp tails and raw shrimp tails. But, if they’re raw you may wish to crush them first to make it easier for your chickens to eat. I dry them out, crush them up, and put them in a mix of whole grains, milk, and oats. My chickens literally go nuts for this healthy, nutritious, table scrap. 

Even if you don’t crush them up, your chickens will simply peck at the shell until it’s in small enough pieces to swallow safely. 

So all parts of the shrimps are edible and safe for chickens, including the shrimp tails. This is great for leaving zero waste, and the shrimp tails are likely to improve your chickens’ nervous system, maintain healthy bones, and improve egg quality because of their high protein and calcium content.

What Are The Nutritional Benefits Of Shrimp Tails For Chickens?

Just because humans give shrimp tails and shells a miss, doesn’t mean these leftovers don’t still have rich nutritional content remaining. 

In fact, shrimp tails are comparatively just as healthy as the rest of the shrimp when it comes to chickens. Shrimp tails are made of dried proteins, chitin, and ash, whose main composition is calcium and other important minerals.

Protein plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of your flock as it improves growth, immunity, egg production, and overall health. In winter and during the molting season, your chickens need more protein, so adding some shrimp tails to their diet will certainly help! 

The safe effect can be had by feeding your chickens scrambled eggs and including the eggshell – protein and calcium, just like a shrimp tail.

Calcium supports the circulatory system, nervous system, cardiac system, digestive system and aids in the formation of hard eggshells, which is essential for regular egg production. So if your chickens are laying soft eggs that break easily, providing them with some shrimp tails can make the eggs harder and healthier.

How To Serve Shrimp Tails To Your Chickens?

As we know, chickens aren’t fussy. But, this doesn’t mean we can’t make it easier for them to consume their table scraps and treats. 

It’s not likely that raw shrimp tails will contain anything unhealthy or unsafe for your chickens, but giving them a quick wash never hurts. Although it’s optional, you can crush up the raw shrimp shells and add them to a mix of other healthy snacks for your chickens, including vegetables like raw broccoli or pickled beets for example.

When it comes to serving cooked shrimp tails to your chickens you should take care to remove any added spices or other ingredients which may be considered harmful to your chickens. Boiled or steamed shrimp tails will be nice and soft for your chickens to eat, just remember to remove any of the following ingredients: 

  • Seasonings like salt, pepper, or spices.
  • Garlic or garlic butter. 
  • Onion.
  • Any excess fat or oil.


So, chickens can eat shrimp tails and shells, and they’re rich in protein and calcium which are both incredibly valuable to your chicken’s diet.

Just be sure to feed your chickens a regular intake of normal layer pellets or a layer seed mix to account for 90% of their regular diet. This ensures your chickens are meeting all their required nutrition needs.

The other 10% you can supplement with healthy table scraps like shrimp tails, seeds, whole grains, eggs, vegetables, and fruits, or simply by letting them forage in your yard!

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