Do they need grit if free-ranged?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by TinyBirds, Sep 16, 2009.

  1. TinyBirds

    TinyBirds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2009
    I just realized maybe I should be providing my birds with grit, but then again maybe it's not needed if they're free range? So far I haven't had any problems (they're about 4 months old and doing great), but now I just started to wonder about it. Also do they have to be fed the oyster shells once they start laying, or could I substitute something else like dried egg-shells?
  2. pixie74943

    pixie74943 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 25, 2009
    Adelaide, Australia
    dried egg shells work well if your hens actually eat them. Mine seem to think I'm trying to poison them.

    However, the egg shell is mostly calcium, and the hens use calcium to lay their eggs, but you still lose out a bit. If 20mg of calcium is used to make 1 egg, and you feed back the shell, not all of that calcium is going to get reingested. Some will be lost.

    Personally I feed mine egg shells and shell grit, which appears to be lots of tiny seashells. All the 'grits' I have are calcium based, so they grind food and give strong eggshells.

    But no, you dont need grit for free-range hens, unless your paranoid their not getting enough grit, in which case it wont hurt to give them a little extra, just in case.
  3. skywatcher

    skywatcher Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 22, 2009
    Hello I free range my flock, yet still keep grit in the chicken yard they don't seem to eat any. Wanted to keep them away from road where there are lots of pebbles & grit for them. My chickens get plenty of calcium from greens in the yard. My quail eat 30% protein feed yet if I give them grass , lettecue,or clover they lay more eggs.
  4. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    Mine range part of the day when the weather is good, but they still gobble up grit that I offer them. Our yard doesn't have a very good supply of grit, although I do think that they get some from under our porch when they are out. Anyways, grit is cheap.

    Oyster shell calcium supplements is NOT the same thing as grit. It is soft and digestable, while grit is just ROCK it is not supposed to be soft at all because it grinds the food.
  5. tstefanick

    tstefanick Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 14, 2008
    Grit and oyster or egg shell are used for two different reasons. Grit is used to provide grinding in their crops. It sits in the crop and pulverizes whatever they eat. When it gets small it goes into the gizzard and continues to grind up their food even smaller. Eventually, it passes through the digestive system completely. Without grit, poultry cannot digest the food they eat. My chickens FR but we still give them grit because we really don't have pebbles laying around like they need.

    Oyster shell or egg shell is used to strengthen bones and egg shells. You have to be careful feeding egg shell as it can give some chickens the idea of eating their eggs. We refeed it; but we grind it into a powder and stir it into the layer mash.
  6. tstefanick

    tstefanick Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 14, 2008

    Congrats on your job and your interesting assortment of critters.
  7. txchickie

    txchickie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 15, 2008
    Mine have access to our driveway, which is crushed granite [​IMG] All the grit they could ever want.

    I personally do not feel that crushed egg shells are a substitute for oyster shell. I always keep out a small chick feeder full of oyster shell for mine. They will take it if they need it.

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