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Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Chicken999, Mar 3, 2015.
My chickens don't free range, but they have a very large run. Should use grit with them or not?
Their diet dictates whether they need grit. If they are on layer pellets with no whole grains/grass or other foods that would need to be "chewed" they don't need grit.
If the soil in the run contains small pieces of gravel that may be enough for them, but since a bag of grit is cheap and lasts forever lots of folks provide it in a dish just in case (I throw some grit in with the dish that holds their oyster shells).
Also if a bird is isolated for a length of time due to illness/injury I give them grit as well especially since I usually feed them a variety of things some of which do need to be "chewed" in order to get digested (i.e. corn, whole grains, etc...)
IMO, chickens should have grit, even if they only get bagged feed. It's a natural part of their digestive system. If they go outside, they should have access to it, whether it comes from the natural soils, or is provided in a free choice feeder. I don't know any one who has a back yard flock who does not give their birds a few treats now and then. General rule of thumb is: give grit if they eat anything other than bagged feed. My rule: always grit.
If they have access to the ground, they are almost certainly getting their own grit. If you really want to, you can buy some grit and offer it on the side (Personally I would not mix it with oyster shell. Why try to confuse them?) or just toss it on the ground and let them enjoy scratching it and finding it. TREASURE HUNT!!!!!
If you have legal access to small gravel the size of a green pea or smaller, you can use that. Sand or gravel bars in streams or rivers can be a great source, but most of us don’t have legal access.
I would think that after a while, your chickens would have found all the small stones that was really accessible/available to them in the enclosed run. I would still provide them with some easy grit by putting it in a dish or just taking a handful and throwing it in the run every two weeks or every week or so... depends on how many chickens you have in it, I would suppose.
If possible, maybe if you alternated free ranging them and keeping them in the run, then I think it would be okay. I free range my girls and I have grit available to them... I don't know where you live, but here, in the wintertime it seems to me they are quite thankful that I have grit available to them inside the coop. They will eat it if I put it out for them even though they free range.