What is Chicken Grit and Why Chickens Need It?
Adding grit to your chicken diet is beneficial! It keeps their digestive system functioning well. Also, chicken grit provides your chicken with the nutrients they lack.
Read on to understand more about chicken grit and why adding it to your flock’s feed is a good idea.
What is Chicken Grit?
Grit is a finely grounded substance that is mostly fed to chickens. The main two types of chicken grit; flint grit and Oystershell grit. Flint grit aids in chicken digestion, while Oystershell grit is a form of calcium that aids in the strengthening of eggshells.
Why do Chickens Need Grit?
Chickens don’t have teeth! So, they require chicken grit to help them grind food down. If you let your chickens forage over a bigger area, they will pick up grits in the form of tiny stones. They will then store the grit in the gizzards, grinding the food whenever it moves. Finally, when the food is in paste form, it passes safely through the digestive system.
It is the role of the gizzard to grind down the food till it safely passes through the digestive tract. Without grit, your chickens can’t feed safely on their food and might end up experiencing impaction.
Also, your hens need oyster grit, which is rich in calcium, to help your hen develop strong eggs. A hen, especially a good layer, might grow brittle bones or sour crop without oyster grit.
In most situations, to keep their chickens safe, most poultry farmers restrict their flock from foraging. Also, even if you let your chickens forage around, a plot of land might not have enough tiny stones to help indigestion. Hence, to aid in digestion, consider adding some grits to your chickens’ diet.
Can You Use Sand for Chicken Grit?
Yes, you can use sand for chicken grit. Sands are beneficial in a brooder as they are suitable for chickens and chicks. Please note that sands don’t cause binding! However, tiny chicks should avoid sand as it causes them to develop impaction. Therefore, ensure that you wait for some days after hatching before adding sand to your chicks’ diet.
Most of the poultry farmers don’t suggest sands to be included as a form of chicken grit. Please ensure you avoid sand and use other alternative form of grit that fits your budget. Grit packages are more beneficial than sands, and they come with instructions on how to use them.
Hence, if you carefully follow the instructions, they might not in any way harm your chicks or chicken.
Best Grit for Chickens
As a new chicken owner, visiting your local feed store can be stressing and perhaps overwhelming. You will find every colorful bag of chicken grit labeled with various terms ranging from “fermented,” “mash,” “grower feed,” and “medicated” to “un-medicated.
So, how can you make a wise sense of all this jargon and choose the right grit for your chicken? Please keep reading to understand more about the best grit for chicken in the market.
– Oysters Shells
Oysters shells help your chicken to grind down food in its gizzard. Also, it breaks down in their digestive tract, unlike the rocks. This type of grit is primarily made up of ground oyster shells. It is a good source of calcium for your chickens to help them in developing stronger eggshells.
Sand is also a good choice for a brooder as it acts as grit for the chicks without fear of binding. However, sand can cause impaction in young chicks, so to use it, ensure that you wait 2-3 days after hatching.
– Used Eggshells
Used eggshell is a traditional and a common substitute for oysters shells and calcium-rich mineral limestone flour. However, you should ensure that the eggshells are roasted till they turn brown and crisp before crushing them. It prevents your chickens from getting a taste of eggs hence prevents them from eating their own eggs.
– Crushed Limestone
It might not be necessary to feed your chickens with supplementary grit, especially when feeding on crumble, mash, or pelleted feed, but this doesn’t cause any harm. Limestone is used as a calcium source for chickens instead of grit.
Crushed limestone helps grind the undigested feed but breaks and gets absorbed before it is ground.
– Rocky Soil
Chickens consume small pieces of grit, rock, or gravel as they forage. The rocky soil moves through their digestive system and lodge in their gizzard, where they grind up the grains, seeds, grasses, and bugs they consume.
The grit grinds their food in the same manner that our molars crush ours. So, suppose your chickens don’t have accessibility to rocky soil? In that case, they won’t properly digest their meal, which means they won’t extract all of the nutrients they require. Therefore, allow your chickens to feed on rocky soil!
How to Give Your Chickens Grit?
There are two ways to give your chickens grit. Firstly, you can mix it in with their food. Secondly, you can provide it separately in a bowl. Mixing grit with feed will make your chicken mistake it for food and eat it.
Also, you might desire to serve it separately for your chickens to eat enough real food and perhaps regulate their feed and grit intake. Both ways are perfectly acceptable, and the decision is entirely up to you and what is best for your circumstance.
Do All Chickens Need Grit?
Confined chickens need the grit to help their digestion when fed on anything else apart from the layer feed. Therefore, please ensure you have a grit feeder for your chickens whenever they want it.
Please, note that chicks don’t need grit until you start feeding them on anything else apart from crumbles. For example, chicks will require grits once they are fed on clumps of grass or dandelions.
For an effective digestive system and better health, feed your chicken with grit. You can add grits to your chicken feed to make them energetic, active, and strong.
However, grit passes out in their poop! Please, feel free to leave us a comment, offer suggestions or ask any questions you might have concerning chicken grit.