Do Chicks Need Grit?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by NCgirl21, Jun 30, 2012.

  1. NCgirl21

    NCgirl21 Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 15, 2012
    Concord, North Carolina
    I've read a lot of forums looking for the answer but there were so many controversial answers. One said to feed them grit when they are a few days old and another said wait a few weeks.

    I don't really understand the whole grit thing...I'm very new to chickens. I have 7 that are about 2 weeks old and 5 that are 5 days old. The older ones I've given little pieces of grass, a few bugs, and I attempted a boiled egg and strawberries with no luck (which I just read was bad of me to do without the grit). So should I be giving them all grit now? How does it work do I mix it in with their food or leave it off to the side? Are there any treats I can give them that don't need grit? Like cucumber? Any advice or information you can give me about grit I would greatly, greatly appreciate. I have no idea and would definitely appreciate anything!

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Chickens do not have teeth to grind up their food. Instead they use grit in their gizzard to grind the food. Grit is just hard rocks or sand. If you buy grit, it will probably be granite because it is reall hard and works well, plus it is a cheap by-product of granite quarrying. But about any rock will work as grit. The harder it is the longer it will last. Good granite might last a month. Softer rocks could be gone in days.

    If all the chicks eat is the prepared chick feed, they do not need grit. It has already been ground up real fine, then formed into crumbles using water. Their gizzard can handle that just fine.

    If you feed them about anything else, they should have grit. It's not that they are automatically going to die if they don't have grit, but it is a possibility. Remember that just because something can happen does not mean that it will each and every time. What can happen with some foods, like grass, is that it can form a wad in their gizzard and cannot pass on through their system. It can block the exit from their gizzard so nothing can pass through and cause a condition called impacted gizzard. Don't freak out because you gave them some grass. They will probably be fine. Just know it can cause a problem.

    They also need grit to grind up many of the foods so they can get nutrition out of them.

    There are things you can give them and not give them grit. Yogurt for one. The cucumber should be fine but don't give them the seeds. I'm sure there are many things you could give them without grit, but it is usually so easy to give them some grit, why worry about it.

    For chicks, a great grit is a coarse sand, like construction sand. Don't use play sand. It is too fine and will pass right on through their system. I've gone to a gravel drive and collected some of the finer pebbles and sand from that. You can just cut up a piece of turf, roots, dirt, top, and all, and give that to them. The dirt works as grit. You can sometimes find chick grit at the feed store. It is smaller pieces than the regular pullet grit. You can find parakeet grit at a pet shop, but be careful with it. A lot of the parakeet grit can have extra calcium in it. Check the label. Extra calcium can be harmful to a growing chick.

    I like to give it on the side, but you can mix it with their food if you wish.

    A grown chicken can use grit as large as a green pea, but for chicks it needs to be smaller. I don't know how to give you a size, just something like coarse sand or maybe a little bit bigger. They can handle things bigger than you would expect.

    A good way to give them grit is to just take them out on dirt for a while. They will get their own.
  3. LaynaDon95

    LaynaDon95 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 18, 2012
    I never give mine grit and they're fine. I do take them outside and let them eat the teeny tiny rocks around the burn barrel though, and they seem to enjoy it. :) (I do mean teeny. tiny. Like only a tiny bit bigger than grains of sand.)
    1 person likes this.
  4. Chicken Wanter

    Chicken Wanter Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 6, 2013
    Can chickens use glass as grit?
  5. write2caroline

    write2caroline Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 21, 2009
    Grit works kind of like teeth. The food is in the gizzard and the grit helps to make it smaller breaking it down. Someone asked about glass. I would not give them ground glass because it might cut up other softer areas.

    Oyster shell is what most people tend to use. When they need calcium for shell production it works for that as well.

    If you are feeding chicks crumble feed they do not need grit because the food is small enough that they can eat it. If you are free ranging the chicks - they are probably naturally pecking at little rocks so then they don't need grit then either.

    If they are in a brooder and you are feeding them high content fiber foods like grass clippings then they might need some grit.

  6. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2013
    Lower Alabama
    What everybody else said. You only need to provide extra grit if you feed coarse grains. Plus I'd skip the grass. You'll notice that when chickens eat yard grass they peck off bite size pieces; when it's laying on the floor of their brooder they have no way to cut or break it up into suitable size and it *could* cause impaction.
  7. Tyhebs311

    Tyhebs311 New Egg

    May 11, 2016
    Brand new to the chicken world
    I went to TSC and the guy told me that normal grit is the same and wouldn't be a problem for my 3 day old chicks... they peck at it and take it so would that be a problem or no??
    He also told me to put pedialyte in the water for the first few weeks. Good source of electrolytes and probiotics. They do enjoy it....

    just curious on what thoughts are.
  8. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Chicks and chickens have an instinct to know what size grit they need, and as long as it's available will consume it. My one-day old chicks were carefully selecting and consuming just the right size bits of sand after I brought them home yesterday and installed them in their sand chick pen in my run. It appeared they were going to fill up on sand and ignore their feed, but they quit consuming the sand grains after they got enough for their gizzards.

    They really don't need grit eating just chick starter crumbles, but it won't hurt them, either. In the past, when I brooded indoors, I would give the chicks a small tub of sand to "dirt bathe" in, and they consumed that for grit, too.

    You don't have to supply grit as long as all you feed is chick feed, but if you want to begin offering other things, grit would be helpful for their digestion.

    I've never bought grit, so I don't even know what it looks like or what size the grains are. I've always just supplied my chicks with either sand or a clump of soil with some grass growing from it, and they get grit the natural (and free) way. Grit is just ground up granite, sort of like sand, except just that one kind of rock source, being desirable due to its angular contours, round pebbles being useless as grit.

    If your chicks are consuming the store bought grit, then they are finding the right size grains they need. So all is good.
  9. BluPoLorp

    BluPoLorp Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 13, 2017
    Pine Valley, CA
    Found this thread by searching this subject; just wanted to ask a quick question -- my chickens are now 16 weeks old. Still on the starter crumble (that 25 lb bag goes a long way with just 3!) in the coop feeder. However they go outside daily into their yard, and it is all dirt (very dry climate here so what little vegetation there was initially is long gone). I toss them mealworms every morning so they can get some protein and have fun foraging out there. The fact that they are eating off this dirt-only ground, is that giving them what grit they need? It's a fairly fine consistency. I don't mind supplementing but if this is doing the trick, I'll just let them do their thing! TIA.
  10. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    If you have a lot of small gravel in the dirt, then the ground should suffice. Personally I would rather supplement, it's very inexpensive and I want to make sure my chickens have access to the right size of grit.
    BluPoLorp likes this.

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