You probably know you need to provide grit for your chickens. But have you ever wondered why chickens need grit? What chicken grit is? What the different types of grit are and what you can use for grit?
If you’ve asked yourself any of those questions, you’ve landed on the right page.
I’ve used just about every type of grit available for chickens over the years. Here’s everything I know about the types of grit available, why grit is important to chickens, and more:
What Is Chicken Grit?
There are two types of grit for chickens; grit that is used to help them grind up and digest food, and calcium-rich grit to help with egg production.
The differences between the two are as follows:
Flint Grit for Digestion
Chickens use a strong muscular organ called a gizzard to grind up their food for digestion. This is commonly found in animals that do not have teeth to break up food before they swallow it.
In the wild, or if chickens are free-range, they will pick up bits of grit while foraging. Which will explain why they eat little stones, sand, and other hard bits of shell, etc.
For the most part, chickens that are free-range all day will find enough grit. It’s still a good idea to provide them some, but it’s amazing what they find while foraging around.
Grit is relatively inexpensive. I use the Manna Pro stuff I’ve linked below on Amazon. All you need to do is keep their grit feeder topped up with this and your chickens will instinctively take as much as they need to aid their digestion.
Oyster Shell Grit for Stronger Eggs
The other type of grit you need to supply for your hens is oyster shell grit also known as soluble grit
A laying hen requires a calcium-rich diet to produce strong eggs daily. Formulated chicken feeds do a great job of meeting that need, but some extra calcium-rich grit will help.
You can actually break up eggshells and feed that back to your hens too, that works just as well. Keep in mind that a laying hen requires around 4-5 grams of calcium a day to keep up will producing an egg almost every day.
I use a crushed oyster shell grit with added calcium like this one available on Amazon:
How Do You Feed Chickens Grit?
There are a few ways you can feed grit to your flock, these are:
- By adding some to their feed
- By scattering some on the floor for them to forage for, or
- By using a dedicated grit feeder
Whichever method you choose, as long as you’re providing enough grit your chickens are smart enough to eat as little or as much as they need. Just don’t put out an excessive amount, sometimes a greedy bird can get carried away.
Do You Mix Grit in With Chicken Food?
I mentioned above in the feeding methods that you can mix grit in with your chicken’s feed if you want.
I know some backyard flock owners that do this. But to be honest I think most owners add a separate grit feeder to their coop or run and leave it up to their chicks when and how much grit they eat.
Can I Use Sand for Chicken Grit?
Yes, you can use sand for chicken grit if you want to.
That’s for the insoluble grit in place of flint grit as I explained earlier. Sand is hard enough to help break up food in their gizzard, although grit that’s a little bigger is probably more optimal.
I know some backyard owners that use sand to cover the floor in their chick’s coop and run and don’t provide any separate grit. They told me their chicken’s peck at the sand and get enough grit this way - so it works.
Chicken Grit Feeders
Chicken grit hoppers aren’t fancy pieces of equipment. All they need to do is hold grit and allow easy access for chickens to stick their heads in and eat some.
Here is an example of the one I use on Amazon:
Premier Poultry Grit and Oyster Shell Feeder
It does everything you’ll need from a grit feeder. It’s made from heavy-duty plastic, so it’s durable and can withstand being in a coop with dozens of chickens pecking away.
The lid lifts off, you pour your grit in, then place the lid back on. I can’t really say much more, I’m not trying to sell it to you - just highlighting how it operates as a feeder.
You’re now an expert in chicken grit. Or, at the very least you know everything I do!
You need to provide two types of grit for your flock;
Flint grit or similar to aid digestion - Chickens do not have teeth, they grind their food up in their gizzard with the help from rough grit.
Calcium-rich grit like oyster shells - Chickens, and laying hens in particular need a lot of calcium in their diets to keep producing strong egg shells.
Both types of grit are readily available online or at a local pet supply store. Make them available in a feeder for your flock and they will eat as much as they need to maintain optimum health.
Related - Here's an interesting use for any spare grit - how to use chicken grit for plant soil!