Do Chickens Need Grit and When?

Absolutely, chickens need grit to aid in their digestion. Since chickens do not have teeth, they rely on grit to grind down their food in the gizzard, a specialized stomach that mechanically breaks down food. Here’s a detailed guide on why, when, and how to provide grit to your flock.

Why Do Chickens Need Grit?

Grit is essential for proper digestion in chickens. There are two types of grit:

  1. Insoluble Grit: Made from small rocks or stones like flint or granite, this type stays in the gizzard to help grind food into smaller, digestible pieces. It’s crucial for chickens that eat whole grains, seeds, or forage for insects and plants​.
  2. Soluble Grit: Often composed of oyster shells or limestone, this grit dissolves in the digestive system and provides calcium, essential for strong eggshells and bone health. It’s particularly important for laying hens​​.

When to Provide Grit

Chickens need grit once they start eating anything other than commercial feed, such as scratch, grains, kitchen scraps, or forage. Here’s a guideline for when to start:

  • Chicks: Introduce chick grit at around two weeks old, especially if they are given treats or foods other than starter crumble​​​​.
  • Pullets and Adult Chickens: Ensure that grit is always available once they are transitioned out of the brooder and start consuming a varied diet.

How to Provide Grit

Separate Container: The best practice is to provide grit in a separate container so chickens can consume it as needed. Chickens will self-regulate their intake based on their digestive needs​​.

Mixing with Feed: While you can mix small amounts of grit with their feed initially to introduce it, it’s generally better to keep it separate. This ensures chickens can consume the right amount as they feel necessary​.

Benefits of Grit

  • Improved Digestion: Grit helps grind down food in the gizzard, aiding in nutrient absorption and preventing digestive issues like impaction or sour crop​.
  • Calcium Source: Soluble grit like oyster shells provides calcium, crucial for laying hens to produce strong eggshells and maintain bone health​​.

Monitoring Grit Intake

Keep an eye on the grit levels in the container to ensure they are consuming it as needed. While chickens generally regulate their intake, observe them for any signs of overconsumption or lack of interest, which might indicate other health issues​​.


Incorporating grit into your chickens’ diet is straightforward and vital for their health. By providing both types of grit appropriately, you can support your flock’s digestive health and overall well-being. Make sure to start early, offer grit in a separate container, and monitor their consumption to ensure they are getting what they need.

What is chicken grit, and why is it important?

Chicken grit is a material composed of small, hard particles like crushed stone or oyster shells. It is crucial for chickens because they lack teeth to chew food. Grit helps grind down food in the gizzard, aiding in digestion and nutrient absorption. Additionally, soluble grit like oyster shells provides essential calcium for strong eggshells and bone health​.

When should I start providing grit to my chickens?

You should start providing grit to your chickens once they begin eating foods other than commercial starter feed. For chicks, this is usually around two weeks old when they start consuming treats or foraging. For pullets and adult chickens, ensure grit is available once they are out of the brooder and have a varied diet​.

How do I provide grit to my chickens?

Offer grit in a separate container so chickens can consume it as needed. This allows them to self-regulate their intake based on their digestive needs. While you can mix small amounts of grit with their feed initially, it’s generally better to keep it separate for optimal regulation​​.

Can chickens eat too much grit?

Chickens typically self-regulate their grit intake and will not overconsume it. However, in rare cases, some chickens might eat too much, leading to digestive issues like crop impaction. Monitoring their grit consumption and ensuring it is always available but not overabundant can help prevent such problems​.

Do chickens need grit if they are free-range?

Free-range chickens often find natural grit, such as small stones and pebbles, while foraging. However, it’s still a good practice to provide supplemental grit to ensure they have enough, especially if their diet includes grains, seeds, or kitchen scraps that require grinding for proper digestion.

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