What are the grit needs of chickens?

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I know from school biology that birds need grit in order to digest their food. I am confused, does a bird need something other than crushed oyster shell? If not, can I substitute crushed clam shells or crushed mussel shells (which are in abundance around here free)?

-- Sandie in Maine (peqbear@maine.rr.com), November 27, 2001


grit is so they can grind up their food,, oytser shell is for the calcium for stronger egg shells,,like a calcium supplement. Grit is small rocks,, and such. clam shels will work as will any mussel shell,,for the calcium,, if they free range,, they will most likely find their own,, if not,,you can buy a bag of grit,, granite chips mostly

-- stan (sopal@net-port.com), November 27, 2001.

Just wondering if gravel off the road will work as grit? A shovel full now and then wouldn't be too much trouble to get.

-- Nancy (nannyb@huntel.net), November 27, 2001.

Yes, gravel from the road will work fine. Mine free range, so they find their own around the farm. Good Luck!

-- cowgirlone (cowgirlone47@hotmail.com), November 27, 2001.

You need a rock/substance that will not immediately break down in the gizzard, the clam shell and mussel shells are too soft, the gizzard is a very strong muscle and makes short work of those things!

The granite grit the feed stores sell are the best for meeting grit needs, granite is one of the toughest rocks out there, and is why headstones are made from it. A 50 pound bag costs around 7 dollars or less, and lasts a very long time, only put out a pound or two at a time, and refill as needed.

You can use roadside gravel, but you will get the chemicals and pollutants that vehicles constantly emit, hydrocarbons and oils that come out of the exhaust and that leak from them. Do you want those in your meat and eggs?

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (annie@1st.net), November 27, 2001.

Out here in the country, I'm used to not seeing vehicles for days! I would not be worried about my hens picking up gravel from this road. My chickens free range and I grain them when they come in to roost in the evening. This works great for me. I guess I like to avoid the feed store as much as possible, I can't imagine people 100 or more years ago running to the feed store for granite, grit and oyster shells. I'm pretty sure they used what they had around the homestead and got along just fine. Just my opinion.

-- cowgirlone (cowgirlone47@hotmail.com), November 27, 2001.

Stan and Cowgirlone right IMHO.....DIRT!

My bockers are free range and the scratch around and get all the grit they need from the earth.

I have never had a blocked croup....well... I should rephrase that...my CHICKENS have never had one!

-- Jason in S. Tenn. (AJAMA5@netscape.net), November 27, 2001.

I buy the grit. It is a cheap commodity and the gravel on my road is polluted by asphalt, etc. Also, I can't free-range since there are so many predators. A bag lasts a LONG time with a small flock that is moved to new ground regularly.

I have also used grit with great success applied to icy sidewalks where salt is inappropriate. It is an affordable safety measure for me.

-- Anne (HealthyTouch101@wildmail.com), November 27, 2001.

Traction sand works good too. As grit that is. A 50 pound bag is about 3 bucks here.

-- Alison in N.S. (aproteau@istar.ca), November 27, 2001.

Sandie, if your area is anything like mine, find a sandy part of your yard and dig a shovel or two or three now while the ground is still thawed (it may not be in a couple days!). That should last you all winter. In my area, and over much of Maine, gravel is the closest thing to soil that we're allotted!!!

-- Sheryl in Me (radams@sacoriver.net), November 27, 2001.

Go to Lowe's or Home Depot and get a bag of Play Sand. Warren....

-- Warren-NC (w.baucom@worldnet.att.net), November 28, 2001.

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