Why Feed Grit to Chickens?

Ever wondered why you should feed grit to chickens and other types of poultry?  Check out this short clip from Nutrena Poultry Specialist Twain Lockhart for answers!

Leave a comment if you have one, or feel free to ask questions below!

31 Replies to “Why Feed Grit to Chickens?”

    1. Hi Lori,
      Thanks for your great question! Grit is one of those things that your chickens need that requires very little effort on your part. Just make sure they have free choice access and they’ll take what they need. A suggestion to start would be to take a small pie tin and fill it about half way with grit. Set it out where chickens can have 24/7 access. For 7 chickens, this amount will probably last you at least a few weeks. When it starts to run low, refill it. It’s one of the easiest “chicken chores” you’ll have! And always remember the rule about grit and oyster shell – It’s better that your birds have it and not need it, then to need it and not have it!

  1. My chickens are outside in the dirt during the day. Or at least have the option to be.

    It seems like there’d be lots of grit in the dirt, so why should I buy grit for them?

    1. Mark – Grit is picked up naturally when chickens are allowed to free-range. They also will enjoy taking dust baths in the soil! It is a good idea to offer them a source of grit inside their coop as well for bad weather days and seasons (if you’re in a climate where it gets cold, like me!) when they aren’t able to enjoy being outside.

  2. My chickens free range 24/7. I feed them a good quality lay feed and fresh greens a couple of times a week. The egg shells are very hard and thick. Do my chickens still need grit and or oyster shell? Thank you very much iadvance much for your response. (: >)

    1. Hi – thanks for the question! Free range chickens can often find sufficient grit where they roam. But, if you have any doubts that they may not be able to find grit or if your birds will be confined and not have access to natural sources of grit than be sure to put some out for them. Oyster shell should always be supplemented to laying hens. A hen’s need for calcium varies widely based on her age, stage of production, environment, etc. so each of your hens will have a different requirement and you need to make sure you have ample oyster shells just in case they do need it. With both grit and oyster shell remember: when in doubt, put it out!!! 🙂

  3. I was always told as long as you were feeding a comercial feed that grit wasn’t required only if you were giving grains or scratch that it needed something to grind it up but commercial feed would melt and be absorbed. If this is not true you need to do training sessions with your dealers to let them know they told me it was a waiste of money when you feed commercial feed thanks so much and please send me a responde so i will know thanks Ronnie PS what all classes of poultry does this cover Thanks.

    1. Hi Ronnie,
      You are correct – if the ONLY thing your birds are getting are crumbles or pellets and water, they don’t need grit. The pellets/crumbles are broken down by the chicken’s gastric juices and are able to be digested. However, if the birds have access to ANYTHING else (grass, weeds, grains, scratch, etc) then grit is required to break the food up into pieces that the bird can use in the digestive tract. Hope that helps!

  4. Hi,
    I have five chickens that I had for twos. Should I give them grit this early? When should I give them Oyster Shells?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Brittany,
      Start giving them oyster shell when they start to lay or at 16 weeks, whichever comes first. Feed grit as soon as your birds are out of the brooder and eating ANYTHING other than a pellet or crumble (leaves of grass, insects, grains, etc.). They need grit to break down fiborous, tough particles and digest them. Hope this helps! For a little more information, you can check out this easy to follow post at https://scoopfromthecoop.nutrenaworld.com/the-right-nutrition-at-the-right-time-for-layers/

  5. If the outside part of my coop has sand, do my chickens still need grit? Thank you!

    1. Hi Diane,
      If your birds have access to sand then that can be their source of grit. Thanks for the great question!

  6. Our chicken run is half gravel, half dirt (trying to grow grass); do we still need “grit”? Or is sand/gravel good enough (with a sprinkle of eggshells every once in a while)?

    1. As long as you are sure that the birds will always have access to the available sand, then that should suffice for grit.

  7. My cochins are almost two months old. I put them outside in their coop in the daytime with plenty of water and a pie pan full of start and grow crumble. The coop is
    Not on ver thick grass, they can get to the dirt. Should I introduce grit since they’re eating some bugs and grass or will the little bit of dirt be enough?
    thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Robin,
      Great question! If you’re in doubt, you should provide grit just in case. It is pretty affordable and having it out for the birds will help ensure they will maintain healthy digestion.

  8. What type of grits are you talking about and is it a decision to mix the egg chickens with the meat chickens…the egg chickens are eating the meat chickens feathers off them

    1. Hi there,
      Grit for standard breeds should be sized #1 or #2 grit. If you can, it is best to keep meat breeds and layer separate due to the different nutritional needs and activity/aggression levels. Hope this helps!

  9. i m rearing 120 native chicken in deep litter system (saw dust) and feeding commercial feed (crumbles). now they are 5 weeks old. should i have to feed grits and when should i start if i have to.

    1. It is necessary to feed grit as soon as your birds are eating any fiborous plant material (such as scratch, corn, grasses, weeds, etc.).

    1. You can scatter the oyster shell and grit or offer them in a dish. The important thing is that they’re available and the chickens will eat what they need.

      1. Are you talking about the grits that u buy to make breakfast or another kind of chicken grits?

        1. Hi Amanda,

          Chicken grit is a mixture of small pebbles or crushed stones that chickens eat in order to help them digest their food, because they don’t have teeth. Definitely not your breakfast grits! 🙂

          Thank you ~ Gina T.

  10. What time of day do chickens usually lay their eggs? Mine are 21 weeks, I have 18, and no one has laid an egg yet. Looking forward to having some eggs soon 🙂 I have Rhode Island Reds, Black Stars and Buff Orpingtons.

    1. Hello Debra, Thanks for the question! Birds will usually lay in the mornings. Often times birds may be 24 weeks before they begin laying, and the eggs may be very small at first! Since it is winter time and the days are shorter, however, lighting could be an issue – birds need about 15 hours of light per day to lay. This is a part of their natural cycle and is for the preservation of energy in colder months. You may see them start laying as we come back into spring and the days start to get longer, or you could place artificial lighting in the coop on a timer, to help bring them into the laying cycle faster.
      Thank you ~ Gina T.

  11. can i mix grit and oyster shells with their feed ?? how is this supposed to be done??

    1. Hi Bob,
      It’s preferable to have separate feeders with the grit and oyster shell. Mixing the oyster shell into the feed, can be forcing a bird to eat it when he or she may not need it. Especially true with roosters, as that could can cause kidney damage.

      Thanks & good luck!

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