Grit refers to a finely ground hard substance that is given to chickens. There are two types of poultry grit: oystershell grit and flint grit. Oystershell grit is a type of calcium that helps make eggshells stronger. Insoluble grit, also known as flint grit, helps chickens with digestion.
Oystershell grit is typically made from oyster shells, but you can also make your own grit by grinding up baked eggshells. Flint grit is made from flint or granite milled into very small pieces. Some grit is designed for chicks under the age of 8 weeks. If you have chicks, you will need to feed them this very fine substance until they reach 8 weeks.
Chickens need grit because they do not have teeth to grind down their food. When left to forage over a larger area, chickens naturally pick up grit in the form of tiny pebbles. They store grit in the gizzard and when the gizzard moves, the food is ground with any grit inside. The food, now a paste, can then pass safely through the digestive tract. The gizzard grinds up the grit, and eventually the grit is small enough to pass through the digestive tract, which is why chickens need to replenish it. Without grit, chickens cannot effectively eat their food and in some cases can suffer from impaction.
Hens also require calcium-rich oyster shell grit to help them with developing strong eggs. Without this nutritional supplement, hens can develop brittle bones or sour crop, especially those who are good layers.
In most cases, backyard chicken owners limit their flock’s foraging to keep them safe from predators. Even with free-range chickens, a piece of land may not have enough of the right kind of small pebbles to help chickens with digestion. It’s a good idea to offer some grit to help a flock.
One option is to mix flint and oystershell grit so chickens have both kinds. It’s a good idea to keep the grit in containers, either together or separately, so chickens can have access to it as needed. Ideally, keep the container lifted off the ground to avoid contamination and keep the grit dry. Top it off occasionally to ensure your hens have what they need.
In addition to grit, you will of course want to provide your chickens with nutritious, high-quality food. Nature’s Best Organic Feeds creates science-based formulas that are non-medicated, Non-GMO Project Verified and organic. Our food and pellets for chickens are designed to offer the right balance of vitamins and minerals for your flock.