Do Ducklings Need Grit?

Ducklings require grit in their daily diet to aid in digestion. This is because birds have an entirely different digestive system from human beings. Simply put, humans have a monogastric alimentary canal with several accessory glands that secrete digestive juices.

On the other hand, birds have a more evolved system with two sections; gizzard and Proventriculus. A gizzard is the muscular section that grinds fiber and grains into tiny particles.

On the contrary, the Proventriculus is the actual stomach where digestion begins. Here, digestive enzymes such as pepsin and hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes, such as pepsin, help in the breakdown process.  Keep reading as we give further details about the importance of grit in a duck’s digestive tract in this topic.

Why do Ducklings Need Grit?

Grit is a critical necessity that helps ducks break down food properly in the gizzard. Usually, this comprises coarse sand and tiny stones in duck’s food. Since ducks do not have teeth to chew their food, gizzards play an almost similar role.

Fundamentally, when ducklings consume grit, it moves straight to the gizzard, also referred to as ventriculus. Small stones and sand consumed earlier and stored in the gizzard help to crush the food down.

Lack of enough grit may cause complications in a duck’s stomach. For instance, undigested food can start rotting; giving duck’s a Sour Crop. This is a yeast or bacterial infection caused by stale food in the duck’s crop. You can detect the condition by a foul smell mainly coming from a goose’s breath. In such a situation, a duckling requires urgent vet’s attention before the issue escalates.

What Girt is Good for Ducklings?

Before adding grit to a duck’s diet, it is essential to consider their body size first. Therefore, use adult chicken-size stones or sand for older ducks. For ducklings, chick-size or much smaller is indispensable. Below are essential types of grit you should consider for your feathered friend.

– Oyster Shell

Oyster shells not only aid in digestion but are also a perfect source of calcium. It is more of a soluble grit because it dissolves in the duct’s gut and aid in strengthening bones and making shells. If ducklings fail to get enough calcium, they may develop deformed, soft-shelled eggs and non-shelled eggs.

It is worth pointing out that calcium helps a duct’s oviduct contract and release an egg. Ducks with insufficient calcium often struggle laying eggs, with a possibility of some getting stuck or broken in the process. A broken shell can puncture the intestine leading to a fatal infection referred to as Peritonitis. For this reason, offering oyster shells goes a long way in keeping your ducks healthy.

– Sand and Gravel

Gravel or coarse sand grit should not miss in duckling’s diet. Farmers need to introduce them to the young birds in small portions. Do not forget to mix with the starter feed because it makes up the main diet.

Once the ducklings hit six months, add crushed eggshells and oyster shells to supplement calcium intake. This should be provided on separate containers to allow each duckling to ingest the quantity they require daily.

– Crushed Limestone

Crushed limestone stands tall among the most preferred grit for ducklings because of its calcium benefits. Compared to oyster shells, it quickly releases in the body because of its small size. In short, it absorbs more rapidly in comparison to large oysters, which sit for a longer duration in the gizzard.

While crushed limestone offers some crushing action, it may get dissolved and absorbed in the body before grinding all undigested food. Thus, you may add coarse gravel or sand to enhance proper digestion.

– Cuttlebone

Cuttlebone is a reasonably priced source of calcium and other necessary minerals like fluorides, bromides, iodides, chlorides, and phosphates. It is not a bone as the name suggests but an inside shell of a Cuttlefish, a tiny squid-like cephalopod. The beauty is that ducklings love playing and pecking on cuttlebones for their daily intake of minerals.

– Crushed Eggshells

Feeding ducklings with crushed eggshells help in digestion and also provides extra calcium to the body. The best way to prepare them is hard boiling and then crushing them into tiny pieces with a potato masher. Motivate your ducklings to feed on crushed eggshells from an early age because of their nutritional value.

You can place the grit on a heavy-based wide container to allow easier pecking. Provide a fresh supply of crushed eggshells regularly to avoid contaminations. Most importantly, allow free choice or serve eggshells separately instead of mixing with birds. That way, your ducklings may peck as they wish and enjoy repeat benefits.

When to Start Feeding Grit to Ducklings?

The earliest time to introduce grit to ducklings is approximately three weeks. However, if your ducks scavenge or spend most of the time picking sand and gravel, you may not have to add supplemental grit. Instead, focus on feeding grit to birds kept on enclosures with minimal access to natural grit.

How to Feed Grit to Ducklings?

Generally, experts recommend farmers sprinkle a tiny amount of grit on duckling’s food. An ordinary duckling requires roughly 30 to 50 grams of insoluble grit each year. Therefore make it accessible to your birds at all times. In cases where you offer soluble grit like limestone or oyster shells, kindly supplement with insoluble options for digestion purposes.

 Do Adult Ducks Need Grit?

Absolutely yes! Adult ducks require daily access to grit to supplement their calcium intake. As mentioned above, calcium is crucial in strengthening bones and guarantees the production of high-quality eggs. Keep note that ducks also require plenty of clean water to help wash down their food effectively.


There is not much difference in taking care of baby ducklings and young chicks. All these birds need is fresh food, water, and a clean, warm environment. Grit is another critical component that should never miss in a duckling’s life. Nonetheless, grit is only significant to ducklings kept in enclosed shelters but not a necessity to free-range ones.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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