Grit is little pebbles that they need to swallow to aid in food digestions. The pebbles stay in the gizzard and grind up the food for them. If you are feeding nothing but the chick starter, they don't need grit but if you offer them treats or feed supplemental food like kitchen scraps, you will need to also provide grit. For the most part, if you allow them to free-range, they will find enough little stones around the yard that you won't need to provide additional grit, but although mine do free-range, I like to offer the grit just in case.
Yes, you will find it at the feed store. At my local feed store it is in bulk bins and you just tell them you want a pound or so. At TSC they have it commercially packaged - I think it is $4-5 for a bag that will last quite awhile.
Hechicken's advice was right on! With just chick crumbles, you don't need the grit, but once they get to go outside a little bit where they can nibble grass and such, then you've gotta make sure they have a little bit if grit too.
When your chicks are grown and free ranging, they will find their own grit, just as Hechicken has mentioned, but if you have them enclosed in a certain area, and there's no natural pebbles and such, then grit is a must, else they can starve because grit is important for healthy digestion. This is important, especially if you're in an area where it snows alot and they are secluded for the winter with no access outdoors, then you have to supply the grit.
If you can let your chicks outof the brooder for a little playtime each day, and it's warm enough, that is really good for them. but of course you've gotta watch over them to make sure they don't get snagged by a neighbor's cat. I have a little length of fencing that I have in a circle, that I can move around the yard like a playpen for my little chicks. Make sure they aren't in the bright sunlight if you do that so they don't over heat. And I put mine where there is clover and grass--they love that!
Grit is crushed granite needed to grind up the food. When the chicks are small you don't need grit until you start introducing other food into their diet. Sand would also work as grit. You also need to give them oyster shells also found at the feed store when they begin to lay eggs. The calcium in the oyster shells make the egg shells nice and strong.
I went to Wal-mart last night and bought bird grit in the pet section. I sure hope this is fine. When I put it in the brooder they went at it like crazy. I did not put much maybe 1/4 cup for 8 3wk old chicks. i have been treating with cabbage, grapes, cheese, and apples. Did not know about grit until yesterday, walmart was my only choice beside going outside and finding some sand/dirt
Thanks everyone! I actually have a little boy and he is no longer using his round baby gate enclosure so i can use that for outside playtime...I will go to our local feed store an get it since I am "anti-walmart" for the most part.
What other things can you give them as "treats"
Well, I don't give my chicks alot of treats at first when they'are little. I guess for me grass and clovers are their first treats. Then as they grow, I'll cut a cabbage in half and give that to them, they like to eat broccoli florettes, apples, grapes occasionally....I don't feed them leftovers as alot of people do because chickens love that stuff, but it can give them fatty liver disease and cause an early death, and also, fat chickens can have problems with egglaying.
So I plant a garden every year, and they absolutely LOVE tomatoes, and cantalope, and watermelon and when the corn ripens, I'll throw them an ear of corn and they just love that.