Oyster Shells = Grit

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by WV_Chicken, Dec 28, 2010.

  1. WV_Chicken

    WV_Chicken Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 18, 2010
    Augusta, WV
    I've started my hens on some oyster shells free choice to help them in their egg production. We got a rubber egg yesterday. I also put some grit in their feed to help with digestion. Now that they ahve access to oyster shells, will this act like grit to them since its hard or do I still need to feed grit. Right now they are living in the coop and haven't been free ranged yet.
  2. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    They still need the grit.
  3. Attila the Hen

    Attila the Hen Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 6, 2010
    Blue Ridge GA
    Are you supposed to put grit in the food? I thought they ate it on demand and so one had to make it available..same with the oyster shell--just make it available.
  4. Country Parson

    Country Parson Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 1, 2010
    Bellefontaine, OH
    We save all our egg shells. I've been doing this for years, usually using it for the garden (directly as well as indirectly via the compost pile), as well as feeding to our redworms (another composting method). Recently I've been adding small doses into the feed mix (dried & crushed). I just put it into a couple of small paper bags and beat on it until its in little bits. They seem to gobble them up, as I havn't seen any discarded on the floor.

    While I assume this does provide a calcium boost, I was also thinking it would help serve as grit. Am I wrong in this? (FYI, my girls have a dirt floor chicken coop, half of which is covered in straw the other half I usually keep bare since they love dust baths. So I assume they are picking up sufficient amounts of pebbles, etc).
  5. Attila the Hen

    Attila the Hen Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 6, 2010
    Blue Ridge GA
    I am responding based on what I have read here recently. Grit needs to be provided if chickens do not free range. Grit is for digesting and calcium is for dietary needs. Some people only use eggshells for this purpose. I did this for awhile but recently added oyster shells just in case.
  6. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 6, 2010
    Oxford NY
    Grit and oyster shells are not the same thing. Girt will not dissolve but is used in the gizzard to grind food and is necessary if the birds are getting anything but straight chicken food--no treats, grain or veggies. The grit will eventually pass through the chicken's digestive system and be lost so must be replaced. Oyster shell will not remain in the gizzard but is dissolved in the chicken's gut and is used as a source of calcium to cover their eggs.
  7. felidaet

    felidaet Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 10, 2008
    Vancouver, Wa.
    I don't completely agree with the comment that grit is necessary if they don't free range. Depending upon your soil you may or may not have adequate material for grit. I always have grit and oyster shell available. Each of these cost less than $10 for 50 lb bags. One bag of each lasts me about 1 year for 34 birds.

    I don't mix grit or oyster shell with the food. Each is in it's own dispenser in the coop. They are mounted the same height has the food dispenser.
  8. FinsUp

    FinsUp Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 10, 2010
    lake oswego flats
    If you think of the difference in the chemical compounds of oyster shells/egg shells vs. grit - think of it this way:

    oyster shells/eggs = calcium (calcium is a dissolved mineral in milk- good for nice hard shells on eggs)

    grit = small rocks (when was the last time you drank dissolved rocks? - good for grinding in the gizzard)

    grit is the mortar & pestle of the chickens "stomach" since they have no stomach. We have stomach acid to break down food - they have grit.

    Woodmort - spot on!
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I look at it more that the grit is like our molars, used to grind food, our molars in the mouth and their grit in the gizzard. They do have acid in their digestive system, gizzard as well as elsewhere. That acid will dissolve oyster shell. I used to think that oyster shell was not hard enough to be used as grit. I'm not so sure that hardness is the important factor. I think it is more that the acid dissolves it so it won't last regardless of hardness. Bottom line, grit is for grinding the food. Calcium materials, whether from oyster shell or egg shells, are dissolved to provide calcium so are not suitable as grit.

    I believe it is best to offer grit and calcium free choice and not mix it with the feed. They know a whole lot better than I do as to how much they need. Why should I force them to eat so much extra calcium that their kidneys have to work overtime to get the excess out of their system?
  10. HorseFeatherz NV

    HorseFeatherz NV Eggink Chickens

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