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Do my chickens need grit?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hey All!
I'm brand new here!  My 21 week old chickens are in a 20'x20' run, which is basically sandy loam (live on an island).  It is fairly gritty.  I wanted to know if I need to provide grit or oyster shell for them?? or What could happen if they don't get enough grit?

Thanks!!smile

Keeper of many Chickens, Ducks, Turkeys & Quail.
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Keeper of many Chickens, Ducks, Turkeys & Quail.
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post #2 of 5

welcome-byc

They should be fine without store-bought grit - they can find it in the soil.   (Their crops can get impacted with food they cannot "chew" or break down in the gizzard.) 

You should provide crushed oyster shell, free choice.  I put it in an empty tuna can nailed to an inside wall of the coop.  Those that need it, take it; those that don't, won't.


Edited by gryeyes - 8/3/10 at 11:46am

-- Linda (AKA: gryeyes)
I refuse to fight a battle of wits with an unarmed person.

Buncha Outdoor PET chickens, ducks, 5 Toulouse geese, and 7 turkeys....so far. Plus 2 wiener dogs, 2 bunnies, a rescue cat which owns me and a new kitten. Oh, yeah: and a house silkie....

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-- Linda (AKA: gryeyes)
I refuse to fight a battle of wits with an unarmed person.

Buncha Outdoor PET chickens, ducks, 5 Toulouse geese, and 7 turkeys....so far. Plus 2 wiener dogs, 2 bunnies, a rescue cat which owns me and a new kitten. Oh, yeah: and a house silkie....

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post #3 of 5

They are getting what grit they need from the sandy ground. The oyster shell is only useful when they start laying eggs and the laying feed you will switch them to will most likely have calcium in it. I provide oyster shell and the girls do eat it but you could do the same thing by crushing their shells and feeding that back to them if you want to go to the trouble. Don't ever feed their own shells back to them without first crushing it though. Because if they see that they are eating shells they will be inclined to eat their own eggs.
Welcome to this addiction wink

A Hen is only an Egg's way of making another Egg.
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A Hen is only an Egg's way of making another Egg.
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post #4 of 5

Grit and oyster shell are two separate and different things, each with its own purpose.

Grit (small, rough edged stones) is swallowed and held in a chicken's gizzard (or ventriculus) where it helps to grind food into smaller, digestible particles by the muscular contractions of the gizzard.  Granite chips are particularly good as grit because of the rough edges of the chips. Sand is usually too small and fine to serve as grit; and round, smooth pebbles don't work as well, either.

Oyster shell is a form of calcium supplementation, which is used of course by laying hens in forming shells for their eggs. Even though layer feed has calcium in it already, it's good to offer oyster shell free choice so a hen can eat as much as her own body needs.

post #5 of 5

Probably not on the grit--even if your soil is sandy the chickens will find what they need.  As for the oyster shells--as soon as they begin laying they are a good idea for a calcium supplement. You just need a separate container to hold them--don't mix with feed.  I have a bin-like feeder I purchased years ago from McMurray that has two compartments--I put oyster shells in one side and flax seed in the other.

I live on 7.5 acres in the western Catskill foothills where I have a 3200 sq.ft veggie garden, 100-plant blueberry patch as well as strawberry and raspberry patches, 4 cats and over 4 dozen chickens: Black Stars, RIR's,  EE's, Brown leghorns, BR's, Buff Orpingtons, Black Australops (including one very happy EE rooster) plus 16 guinea fowl. I've been keeping chickens since I was in high school...



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I live on 7.5 acres in the western Catskill foothills where I have a 3200 sq.ft veggie garden, 100-plant blueberry patch as well as strawberry and raspberry patches, 4 cats and over 4 dozen chickens: Black Stars, RIR's,  EE's, Brown leghorns, BR's, Buff Orpingtons, Black Australops (including one very happy EE rooster) plus 16 guinea fowl. I've been keeping chickens since I was in high school...



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