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Grit vs. Oyster Shell *Do they need both?*

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by mom2jedi, Nov 20, 2009.

  1. mom2jedi

    mom2jedi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Originally I had thought both were necessary. When I was at the feed store to pick up some grit for my 7 week old chicks I was told they didn't need it like other birds and only need the oyster shell when they are getting ready to lay. Is this true? I was planning to offer both in containers mounted to the wall. Their free range time will be limited as I don't trust then to not fly over the fence or get attacked by the many hawks in the area and their run is not built yet.
     
  2. Opa

    Opa Opa-wan Chickenobi

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    Oyster shell supplies them with the calcium they need for good egg shell development. Grit going into their crop helps them "chew" their food. While technically if your birds are never allow any seeds and are only allowed to eat layer mash or pellets grit wouldn't be needed. However, I personally like my birds to be as natural as possible so I keep grit for them to free feed.
     
  3. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

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    There are reasons some people don't think chickens need grit. Unlike many small bird seed mixes poultry feed is usually designed so they don't need grit to break it up and digest it. Free ranging birds can often find enough grit so there would be another case where they might not need grit although it's still good to provide in case. If they can't find their own grit and you feed items that would require "chewing" they do need a source of grit. Oyster shell is too soft to be used as grit and is fed because it is easily crushed up and absorbed where granite grit takes a long time to break down and can crush things like oystershell.
     
  4. jeremy

    jeremy CA Royal Blues

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    Hens only need oyster shell if they are laying (at this point it should be readily available at all times), or right before they begin to lay.

    And chickens in general really only need supplemental grit (I believe) if they aren't free range and are kept confined. If they are allowed to forage they should pick up whatever grit they need on their own.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2009
  5. Phelanite

    Phelanite Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:I agree. Freerange they pick up rocks (Grit) and eat it all the time if you dont have sandy/rock soil that they are exposed to then they will need grit.
     
  6. mom2jedi

    mom2jedi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you all for your replies! That's what I was thinking but just thought I would check since it seemed so contrary to what I had learned so far on this wonderful forum! Once I have my run built it won't be an issue since we're planning to have sand in it, should I supply it in the meantime however? The girls are only allowed to forage for an hour or so in the late afternoon since we have hawks in the area and I'm in and out all day. I don't think we have sandy/rocky soil... southern california so mostly clay...
     
  7. Opa

    Opa Opa-wan Chickenobi

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    Grit is cheap and it can't hurt to provide them with all you can.
     
  8. dacjohns

    dacjohns People Cracker Upper

    Quote:There is a lot of decomposed granite in Southern Cal. It is an excellent grit. Sand might be too fine.
     
  9. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

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    Purchased granite grit still may be better than anything they'll find and better than sand. Sure they'll pick up rocks and bits of sand but not all rocks are the same hardness. Some are easily crushed and some last forever. Granite lasts a long time. Sand is also a bit small for adult chickens. There's really no good reason not to leave some grit out unless like me you just can't find it. Apparently since nearly everyone free ranges their flock and considers them cheap additions to the farm no one cares to buy grit or oyster shell around here and I have to hunt for either. Most feed stores don't even know what I'm talking about when I ask if they carry it.
     
  10. sjh

    sjh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Grit is used in the gizzard not the crop. Think of the crop as a cubbard. It's were they store the food.
     

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