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Providing Grit For Your Backyard Chickens

25 16:36:08

There are two types of grit available for your chickens. Flint grit or insoluble grit which is used for grinding food down and Oyster shell grit, which is a source of calcium to help form strong egg shells.

Flint or insoluble grit

Chickens don't have teeth, or if they do then only very rarely ("as rare as Hens Teeth"). To grind down their food they need to use grit and their gizzard which is a strong muscular organ which forms part of their digestive system. Chickens pick up grit whilst foraging and retain it in their gizzard to perform this grinding process. It is for this reason you often see birds such as pheasants pecking at the side of the road and what often ends up costing them dearly.

If your chickens are kept truly free range then they will find enough of this on their own but these days, few of us have the space or the security from predators to be able to allow them to do this completely naturally. Therefore grit will have to be given as a supplement. However this type of grit is cheap and available from most good pet or farm shops


Oyster shell or soluble grit

In order to form strong egg shells, chickens require a certain amount of calcium in their diet as most of an egg-shell is made up of calcium. Nowadays with the research that has been done for formulated feeds (available as layers mash or
pellets), it isn't so critical to provide oyster shell grit because a lot of poultry food contains sufficient calcium. However, it will not do any harm to mix some in with the flint grit that they need just to make sure they get enough.

If you think how many eggs some high layers produce in a year, then you will understand that they do need to have access to quite a lot of calcium. If you can not find Oyster shell grit from your local store, crushed egg shells will do the job. Put them in the oven for 10 minutes to dry them out and crunch them up before mixing them in to your grit hopper.

Grit hoppers

Grit containers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, the important thing is to make sure that they are of a design that will not get tipped over easily or filled up with water. It may be worth spending a bit more on a more expensive galvanised one to start with, but which will last longer.