what is chicken grit?
Grit refers to a finely ground hard substance that is given to chickens. There are two types of poultry grit: oyster shell grit and flint grit. Oyster shell grit is a type of calcium that helps make eggshells stronger. Insoluble grit, also known as flint grit, helps chickens with digestion.
Do Chickens Need Grit?
Chickens need grit because they do not have teeth to grind down their food. When left to forage over a larger area, chickens naturally pick up grit in the form of tiny pebbles. They store grit in the gizzard and when the gizzard moves, the food is ground with any grit inside. The food, now a paste, can then pass safely through the digestive tract. The gizzard grinds up the grit, and eventually the grit is small enough to pass through the digestive tract, which is why chickens need to replenish it. Without grit, chickens cannot effectively eat their food and in some cases can suffer from impaction.
Hens also require calcium-rich oyster shell grit to help them with developing strong eggs. Without this nutritional supplement, hens can develop brittle bones or sour crop, especially those who are good layers.
In most cases, backyard chicken owners limit their flock’s foraging to keep them safe from predators. Even with free-range chickens, a piece of land may not have enough of the right kind of small pebbles to help chickens with digestion. It’s a good idea to offer some grit to help a flock.
When Should I Give My Chickens Grit?
It’s a good idea to keep the grit in a container separately, so chickens can have access to it as needed. Ideally, keep the container lifted off the ground to avoid contamination and keep the grit dry. Top it off occasionally to ensure your hens have what they need.