Am I going to have to supply grit?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Mahlzeit, Jan 25, 2017.

  1. Mahlzeit

    Mahlzeit Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have had chickens for a long long time and have always had them on dirt in the run. My parents own a deli so my birds get all the food scraps that get thrown away from the deli. I never needed to buy grit for my birds because they have always been able to find their own. After doing some research and following some people on youtube I have decided to cover my run in wood chips. I brought the wood chips into the coop on Sunday. I left a small corner uncovered to when the dirt dries out they can dust bathe. Now my question is am I going to need to supply grit or are they gonna be able to find their own through the wood chips. Does anyone else here use wood chips in their runs?
     
  2. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Supply grit? Yes!

    Laying hens should have access to grit and oyster shell free choice at all times. Chickens don't have teeth, so the only way they can "chew" their food is to maintain a level of grit (rocks) in their gizzard. They eat, the gizzard goes to work grinding and mashing it up and it moves on down the line to be digested.

    I bought a 25# bag yesterday for $7.50. It may last my birds all year. Its a sack of rocks, so it won't go bad.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I don’t know how thick those wood chips are, they do scratch in bedding a lot, so I’m not sure whether they will still be able to find enough grit or not. Even if I knew how thick they are I wouldn’t be able to give you a guarantee. But as Howard points out, grit is pretty inexpensive. It’s great insurance.

    You can offer some in a separate container or if you can keep that dust bath area clear, just dump some in there. Mine peck at the ground a lot when they are dust bathing, one of the things they are probably pecking is rocks for grit. With their scratching you may find it a bit challenging to keep that area clear.
     
  4. Cacique500

    Cacique500 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Last edited: Jan 26, 2017
  5. Mahlzeit

    Mahlzeit Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Shells are plenty hard so I'm not worried about the oyster shell. Just didn't know if they would be able to dig up enough rocks with the wood chips. They found enough when the run was dirt and leaves. I wish I could get 25lbs of grit for $7.50 I can get a 5lb bag here for $7.50
     
  6. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The 5# bag was $6.50 a bag and sitting on the shelf next to the 25# bag. Different brands, but once the larger bag was opened, it looked identical and the birds are using it. Funny thing was, a few months back I purchased a 5# bag from a different company......a recognized national brand....... it was different in both size and color and they would not touch it. I would think "rocks are rocks" but apparently they don't agree with me.

    BTW, on my "rocks are rocks" comment, that is not the case. The outdoor rocks we have is limited to the crushed limestone gravel we put on the roads. Not only is that softer than the granite chips supplied as poultry grit (all grit I've seen is granite chips) but limestone can break down in highly acidic digestive tract. Actually, our limestone rock is closer to oyster shell than it is to the granite chips sold as poultry grit.

    The point being even if a person does have rocky soil, they may want to consider offering free choice grit anyway.

    BTW, where does all the grit these birds eat go? They retain most of it in their gizzards, but some escapes to pass on through their digestive tracts and some breaks down and is slowly ground down over time. They somehow know when they need more and again, best way to keep this in balance for them is to offer grit free choice and let them choose.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2017
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    There are two reasons the grit we buy is granite. Granite is extremely hard, some larger pieces may last for a month in the gizzard. The other reason is that it is inexpensive. Practically all the grit we buy is waste from granite quarries. They sift the debris through screens to get the right sizes and bag it. So it becomes part of the revenue stream instead of just more waste they have to deal with. It’s still a very minor part of the overall wastes.

    The rock the chickens eat generally stays in the gizzard until it is ground down to sand. Then it passes through their system and out the rear end. How long it lasts depends on how hard it is and the size of the rock to start with. The rock grinds against other rock as well as the walls of the gizzard and what it is grinding. Some rocks, like limestone, are dissolved by the digestive juices. I grew up in East Tennessee where a lot of our rock was limestone, we never had to offer any calcium supplement. They got all the calcium they needed for hard shells by the rocks they ate. They ate other types of rocks for grinding. Some rocks, like sandstone, crush pretty easily and reduce to sand-sized particles pretty quickly. How much grit they need to eat depends on what rocks they find.

    There is a common theory on here that grit needs to be sharp and angular. It makes sense that sharp angular rocks will grind up things faster. But anyone that has butchered chickens, opened the gizzard, and paid attention to what is in there will quickly see that grit is really smooth. Like rocks in running water or in wave action, the sharp points are quickly worn away. They may not be perfectly round but they are smooth. For anyone that has seen a mill where grain is ground into flour or meal, how sharp and angular are the millstones? Or it you have a mortar and pestle in your kitchen to grind up spices, how sharp and angular are those? Even without sharp angular points they still grind.

    If our chickens have access to the ground most of us do not need to supply grit, or as the Brits among us call it, insoluble grit. But if you are on certain soil types like the drained dried swamp muck in South Louisiana or they have access to a small portion of the ground where the available rocks might be used up, offering insoluble grit could be a good thing.
     
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    If you've had that run for a long time, supplying grit may be a good idea, whether you do the DL or not. My ground is frozen almost 6 months of the year, and I supply grit occasionally during that time. I use wood chips, leaves, grass clippings, garden debris, basically any compostable materials I can get my hands on, old bedding from coop (use leaves and grass clippings there) You're gonna love the DL in your run. No more run, no more smell, happy chickens.

    Call around to the various feed stores in your area. You should be able to find a 50# bag of grit for about the same price you'd pay for a much smaller bag. It will last forever, and simply won't go bad if it is well stored.
     
  9. Mahlzeit

    Mahlzeit Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok so i have added grit in a small hanging feeder in the attempts to keep spilling at a minimum. Apparently my chickens didn't get the memo that this 50lb bag of grit is supposed to last a while because I have filled the 3lb feeder twice in two days and they empty it everyday. i dont see any of it visible in the leaves on the floor of the coop. How do you guys keep this from happening?
     
  10. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If they haven't had adequate grit in a while they might be going crazy on it since they instinctively want to load up. Once they've had their fill they should slow down significantly.
     

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