Grit for chickens that are part-time free rangers?


In the Brooder
8 Years
Mar 19, 2011
Lafayette, CA
Hi -

My 3 1/2 month old chicks are still eating starter feed. We feed them treats -- mostly leftovers and scraps - fruit, rice, corn on the cob. They free-range in our yard in the late afternoons and weekends. We do not provide them "grit". There is no separate feeder with coarse sand/grit.

I've looked through the board and can't find a definitive answer on this. Do we need to provide them with grit? Can they get what they need from the garden? What signs would they exhibit if they needed grit and didn't have it? They all seem healthy.

Is grit something that is needed for chickens that never get out?

Thanks for any advice.

Medicine Man

9 Years
Nov 21, 2010
Apple Hill
“I feel that grit should be started at day 2 or 3 of life and be offered continuously throughout the life cycle. I often hear “They get all the grit they need from the pasture/dirt.” Unless your chickens are grazing a gravel pit (in which case there wouldn’t be much grass growing), you’re unlikely to have enough grit for your birds on the pasture unless you provide it.”

- Jeff Mattocks is the Poultry Nutrionist at the Fertrell Company. [email protected]

I lifted this quote from:

can read Mr. Mattocks'/Fertrell's "Pastured Poultry Nutrition" here:


8 Years
Apr 30, 2011
East Tn
I have been giving grit since they were 4 weeks when they started free ranging .


Opa-wan Chickenobi
12 Years
May 11, 2008
Howell Michigan
Someone else posted what I feel is the best gauge of knowing when to feed you birds grit. If you were to eat what you are giving them would you have to chew it? If the answer is yes then they need grit to help them chew. Chick starter is basically mush so no chewing is necessary.


8 Years
Feb 7, 2011
Lantana, Florida
I've never given grit, either. One reason is that when I asked the feed store for grit, they offered me a tiny bag of crushed granite for $8.00 !! So of course I thought, I'll just get out my heavy hammer and make my own! (Well, that didn't work very well). But I live in Florida, with lots of sand, of varying sizes, and little snail shells all over, and they free range, so they're going to have to find their own grit.

Also, when I looked at a tutorial on processing your own chickens, the man showed the gizzard and what was in it - looked like polished rocks to me! So they actually will find some kind of stone to help them grind up their food. I'm talking adult hens, here. For chicks, put some sand in their brooder. Should work just as well. There's my 2 cents!!

Sweetwater Clyde

In the Brooder
9 Years
Dec 9, 2010
You need to get them on a layer ration soon. Buy a bag and mix whatever starter you have with it, and buy a bag of grit and oyster shells, scratch grains and mix them in at this time as well. I go 1 50 pound bag of oyster shells, 1 25 pound bag of grit, 1 bag of scratch, and four 50 pound bags of layer pellets. I feel too much feed is lost using crumbles. Get a hanging style feeder with a good lip so they cannot scoop feed on the floor and hang it about the height of their back. I just mix it all with a shovel in a galvanized trash can. Done right it will be hard to tell if anything other than the pellets is in there.

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