What Is Grit for Chickens?

Are you a poultry farmer or a backyard chicken keeper? If so, you've probably heard of chicken grit. But do you know what it is and why it's important for your flock's health? In this guide, we'll dive into the world of chicken grit, exploring its different types, how to choose the right one, and the benefits it provides to your feathered friends. So let's get started!

What is Chicken Grit?

Definition of Chicken Grit

Chicken grit is a type of coarse substance that is fed to chickens to aid in their digestion. It is made from a variety of materials, including crushed granite, limestone, or oyster shells. The purpose of grit is to help chickens break down their food in their gizzard, which doesn't have teeth like humans do.

Importance of Chicken Grit in Poultry Production

Chicken grit plays a crucial role in poultry production for several reasons. Firstly, it helps chickens grind their food into smaller particles, making it easier for them to digest. This improves their overall digestion and promotes nutrient absorption.

Additionally, providing chicken grit also ensures that chickens have a healthy beak and digestive system. The grinding action of the grit helps keep their beaks in good condition and prevents issues such as impacted crops or gizzard. Therefore, incorporating chicken grit into their diet is essential for maintaining their optimal health and well-being.

Types of Chicken Grit

Coarse Grit

Coarse grit is the most common type of chicken grit. It has a rough texture and is typically made from crushed granite or other hard materials. The coarse texture helps chickens break down their food effectively in their gizzards.

Coarse grit is usually provided to adult chickens and larger poultry breeds. It is ideal for birds that have access to larger food particles or forage in a natural environment where they can pick up pebbles or stones. The larger size of the grit particles helps them break down food more efficiently.

Fine Grit

On the other hand, fine grit has a smoother texture and is made from finer materials like crushed limestone. This type of grit is more suitable for smaller chicken breeds or chicks, as their gizzards are not as developed as adult chickens.

Fine grit is also useful for chickens that are primarily fed commercial feeds or have limited access to natural sources of grit. The smaller particles in fine grit are easier for younger chickens to handle and aid in their digestion.

Choosing the Right Chicken Grit

Determining the Needs of Your Flock

When it comes to choosing the right chicken grit for your flock, there are a few factors to consider. Firstly, you need to determine the age and size of your chickens. Adult chickens and larger breeds require coarse grit, while chicks and smaller breeds benefit from fine grit.

Next, consider your chickens' diet and feeding habits. If they have limited access to foraging or are primarily fed commercial feeds, they may require more grit in their diet. Likewise, if they are mainly foraging and have access to natural sources of grit, they may need less supplemental grit.

Lastly, take into account any specific health conditions or concerns your chickens may have. Some chickens may have issues with impacted crops or gizzards, in which case providing the right type and amount of grit becomes even more critical.

Considering the Different Options Available

When it comes to chicken grit, you have several options to choose from. The first consideration is whether to opt for coarse grit or fine grit, depending on the needs of your flock as discussed earlier.

Additionally, you can also choose between different compositions and ingredients. Some grit products may be a mix of crushed granite, limestone, and oyster shells, while others may be made from a single material. It's essential to read the labels and choose a product that suits your chickens' specific dietary requirements.

Finally, if you prefer to feed your chickens organic or natural options, seek out grit products that meet those criteria. There are organic and natural chicken grit options available on the market, ensuring that you can provide your flock with the best possible nutrition without any synthetic additives.

How to Feed Chicken Grit

Free Choice Feeding

One way to feed chicken grit is through free choice feeding. This means providing access to grit at all times, allowing the chickens to consume it as needed. Place the grit in a separate container or hopper, making it easily accessible to your flock.

This method allows chickens to self-regulate and consume grit as their digestion requires. It's a convenient option for larger flocks as it allows them to access grit whenever they need it without having to rely on specific feeding times.

Mixed in Feed

Another way to feed chicken grit is by mixing it in with their regular feed. This ensures that every chicken receives an adequate amount of grit with their meals. Thoroughly mix the grit into the feed to ensure even distribution.

This method is especially useful for smaller flocks or for chickens that are primarily fed commercial feeds. By incorporating the grit into their daily feed, you can rest assured knowing that they are getting the grit they need for optimal digestion and overall health.

Benefits of Chicken Grit

Improved Digestion

One of the primary benefits of feeding chicken grit is improved digestion. By breaking down food into smaller particles, grit helps chickens digest their meals more efficiently. This leads to better nutrient absorption and overall health for your flock.

Think of chicken grit as the "teeth" that chickens don't have. Just like we chew our food to aid in digestion, chickens need grit to do the same job in their gizzard.

Healthier Beak and Digestive System

Feeding chicken grit also promotes a healthier beak and digestive system in your feathered friends. The grinding action of the grit helps maintain beak health by wearing down their beaks naturally.

Additionally, providing grit prevents issues such as impacted crops or gizzards. These conditions can occur when food particles become lodged and can't pass through the chicken's digestive system. By providing grit, you minimize the risk of these blockages and ensure your chickens remain in optimum health.

Precautions and Considerations

Overfeeding Grit

While grit is essential for chickens, it's important not to overfeed it. Overfeeding grit can lead to a condition called gizzard impaction, where the gizzard becomes compacted with grit and food particles.

Monitor your flock's intake and adjust the quantity of grit accordingly. If you notice signs of gizzard impaction, such as decreased appetite or unusual behavior, consult with a poultry veterinarian to determine the best course of action.

Potential Choking Hazards

When feeding chicken grit, it's crucial to consider the size and shape of the grit particles. Grit that is too large or has irregular shapes can pose a choking hazard to your chickens.

Always choose grit that is appropriate for the size of your chickens and ensure that it has been crushed to a safe size. It's better to err on the side of caution and opt for smaller, smoother grit particles to prevent any potential harm to your flock.

Additional Considerations for Specific Chicken Breeds

Bantam Chickens

If you have bantam chickens, it's essential to provide them with size-appropriate grit. Bantams are smaller in size, so they require smaller grit particles that they can handle comfortably. Adjust the quantity of grit based on the size and needs of your bantam flock.

Heritage or Rare Breed Chickens

Heritage or rare breed chickens may have specific dietary needs or preferences. It's worth researching if there are any special considerations when it comes to feeding these breeds chicken grit.

Alternatives to Chicken Grit

Oyster Shell

Oyster shell is a calcium supplement commonly fed to chickens. While it is not the same as chicken grit, it serves a similar purpose in promoting healthy digestion.

Oyster shell is particularly beneficial for laying hens, as it helps them produce strong and healthy eggshells. Consider adding oyster shell alongside chicken grit if you have laying hens in your flock.

Crushed Eggshells

If you're looking for a natural and readily available alternative to chicken grit, consider feeding your chickens crushed eggshells. Before offering them to your flock, make sure to sterilize the shells by boiling or baking them.

Crushed eggshells provide a calcium source for your chickens, and the fine texture can also aid in their digestion. Simply crush the shells into small pieces and mix them in with their feed.


Chicken grit is an essential supplement for any poultry flock. Whether you choose coarse grit or fine grit, providing your chickens with the right type of grit ensures they have optimal digestion and overall health.

Remember to consider the needs of your flock, choose the right type of grit, and feed it properly. By following these guidelines, you'll be well on your way to supporting your chickens' dietary needs and maintaining their overall well-being.

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