Here's my future situation, and after I've read so many posts here, I thought I'd post this of my own-THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS FORUM! Our chicks are only a week old now, so I'm just trying to get things in my mind now. 1) We have an 8x14 coop with their nesting boxes, windows and a roost. There also is a door that they can go out. 2) They will have an outdoor pen and free access during the day and if weather permits, out everyday. I live in NE, so they may not go out during winter storms, etc. 3) They are all pullets that we're raising for eggs. 21 of the, 7 different breeds. Currently on medicated chicken starter. Now the questions... 1) When to start the grit? Or will they need since they will have outdoor access? And if I do, can I put a pan of it in their coop? 2) DE, is it the same as oyster shells, as I know it says it is shell? I plan to put it in the nesting boxes, outdoor on the ground and maybe on the coop floor too. Do I mix in with their feed or a seperate pan? 3) Diet, I'd like to think I can free range them outside of their pen, but have safety concerns. I'd like to avoid pellets and use what I have on the farm-corn, grasses, alfalfa, left over food-vegis, fruits, breads, etc. Advice here. Do I need to supplement and keep pellets on hand and available? Thanks everyone!!!