Grit / Oyster Shells or BOTH?


8 Years
Aug 6, 2011
Pacific North West
Oyster shells is calcium right? and grit is just sand, right? Do I still need to provide grit (Sand) because they have the entire side of the house 10 X 50+ feet run with only dirt and pine shavings to scratch around in. They also when I am home get to run in the back and kill everything like bugs, flies, worms around the grass. So they have a lot of ways to peck at sand, rock and dirt? Grit Needed??


In your case, no grit needed. Grit can be gravel, not just sand. Oyster shell is calcium so the hens will need that once they are laying. Mine get all the grit from our rocky mountain property and the gravel driveway, but they all have a hopper with oyster shell in the coops.

Free range birds don't usually need grit supplied. Birds penned 24/7 may.
I don't give my girls oyster shell. Yet anyway. I haven't had to. Their shells are very strong and I haven't had any soft ones yet. My girls are 25 weeks old and most have been laying since 18 weeks.
I don't give them grit either as my girls have a dirt run with plenty of dirt, rocks and sand.
You will get soft shells eventually if you don't provide some calcium. If on a layer feed it might be ok, but I think eventually you will need to supplement with oyster shell. I feed purina flock raiser, oyster shell, and grit. My bird free range all day every day. Grit is cheap so I say why not. My birds have my one acre fenced back yard to free range yet I still fill up the grit bowl about once a month, more in winter of course.
Hi! I just reviewed this thread and had a question:

I am a newbie. My flock is only 11 weeks old, so several weeks/months away from laying yet. I just started them on their 'finisher' feed and I plan to add oyster shell once they start to lay. I have been supplementing with chick grit since I started giving the chicks treats at about 3 weeks of age. But, I noticed that a couple of you mentioned keeping your grit or oyster shell in bowls or containers of some kind. I thought that you were supposed to scatter it for them. Have I been doing this wrong? Will the chicks know to go to the bowl if I keep it in a bowl? Any thoughts?

For now they are contained in a 10x10 feet chainlink outdoor dog kennel with soil floor to which I've added additional sand. There is pine shavings inside the coop but they only go in there for a few minutes a day.
Providing crushed oyster shell in a container (I use a heavy dog food bowl, some synthetic material) allows you to see how much of it is actually used. Sometimes my flock uses a lot of it, other times, not so much. Scattering it on the ground is perfectly fine, but won't really tell you if it's being consumed.

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