Have you ever watched a chicken peck at tiny stones and wondered what on earth the chicken was doing? Chickens are known for eating some pretty strange things, but perhaps the most bizarre of all is grit.
For those who are new to raising chickens, it may seem odd observing your flock consume tiny particles of rocks, dirt, oyster shells, or sand; however, this process is vital to the digestive health of your chickens. This article is about grits, why they are paramount to the health of your chickens, and how to implement grits into your flocks’ diet.
Can chickens eat grits? Yes, chickens can eat grits. It is fundamental for most chickens diets as it is crucial to their digestive system. You can also mix it up with the chickens feed, vegetables, rice, or meat; your chickens will definitely love it.
Essentially, grits are small loose particles that enter the chickens’ gizzard and grind up all the nutritious chicken foods and treats that the chicken consumes, turning it into a paste absorbed in the gut and through the bloodstream before eliminating the waste product.
As long as the particle sizes are suitable for chicken ingestion, the grits are safe for their consumption. The only time grit is unnecessary for chickens is if the chicken consumes nothing but commercial chicken feed, which digests quickly.
You may like: Can Chickens Eat Tomato Plants?
Are Grits Good for Chickens?
As previously mentioned, grits are tiny particles such as stones or shells, and while grits aren’t nutritionally dense, they are vital for an effective digestive system.
Put simply, grits act like teeth for chickens, and without a sufficient supply of grit, the digestive system is halted, causing discomfort and potentially death.
Choosing the correct grit is vital – There are different sizes of grit, and you must select the right one based on their age to keep them healthy and active.
Older chickens need coarse grit to pass through the digestive system without grinding the food if it is too small.
There are two types of grit, soluble and insoluble. Soluble grit consists of particles such as oyster shells or eggshells and is digestible. Insoluble grit contains particles such as flint or granite and remains in the birds’ gizzard, grinding foods into a paste.
Soluble grits are an essential part of Layer chickens’ diet as it’s full of calcium, magnesium, sodium, and copper. Layer chickens need 3-4 times more calcium than other chickens to lay solid eggs and maintain bone strength.
If Layer chickens don’t ingest enough soluble grit, their bodies will derive calcium from their bones to create firm eggs. A lack of soluble grit can also lead to egg binding, which is potentially life-threatening.
Soluble grits are not crucial in regular chicken diets; however, they can aid digestion, so they are a welcome addition.
Can Chickens Eat Uncooked Grits? (Raw)
Most people prefer to offer chickens cooked grit because they have heard it is safer, but chickens will happily eat both. Due to the chickens’ efficient digestive system, regular uncooked grit will likely cause discomfort but have no significant side effects.
If you are using eggshells as grit, ensure you roast them until they are dark and crisp; otherwise, your chickens may end up with a taste for eggs and start eating the eggs that they have laid.
Can Baby Chickens Eat Grits?
Chickens that consume treats, bugs, grass, grains or weed, need to have grit regularly. Because baby chicks only eat chicken feed for the first while, they do not need grits to maintain a healthy digestive system.
However, once other foods are added to the chicks menu, you must feed them fine starter grits. Chickens can generally start on regular chicken grit when they reach eight weeks.
It is a good idea to ensure that the grit doesn’t contain an extra supply of calcium as this is risky to young chicks’ health, potentially causing damage to their kidneys.
Can Chickens Eat Grits Every Day?
Chickens can eat grits every day. Most chickens instinctively know how much grit they should consume.
However, chickens have their own personalities, and some may continue eating to excess; therefore, you must watch how much your chickens consume each day. Be aware that free-range chickens tend to ingest less grit as they spend more time foraging.
Can Chickens Eat Cheese Grits?
Cheese grit is a dish made of corn, milk, and butter, making it suitable for chicken consumption but only in moderation. Even though the chicken digestive system is advanced, you should limit dairy as the system isn’t designed to consume milk sugar.
Providing large amounts of yogurt, cheese, and milk can cause diarrhea and gut issues.
How to Feed Grits to Chickens?
Free-range chickens may find and consume a decent quantity of grits in their environment within the soil; however, it likely won’t be enough for the birds to keep them happy and active.
Luckily grits are easily affordable, and whether your chickens are free-range or not, it is best to have a constant supply in a feeder within their habitat.
Chickens are instinctive birds, and most know how much grit they need to keep their digestive system running smoothly, so it is recommended to keep all grits in a bowl separate from the rest of the food.
Combining it with other foods can confuse chickens, and they may not recognize when they have had their allocation of grits.
If you have a mixed flock, keep soluble and insoluble grits separate so that chickens can self-regulate.
Conclusion: Can Chickens Eat Grits?
Yes, chickens can definitely eat grits. This is high nutritional food that your chickens will enjoy. You can mix it up with all types of chicken feed. But make sure to only use it as a complement. Chickens need a balanced diet in order to thrive.
Always have insoluble grits available to your chickens for consumption and add soluble grits to their diets for additional digestive system support.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out to ensure your flock isn’t over-consuming grit to keep them healthy and free of digestive issues.
For Laying chickens, ensure they have two feeders – one for soluble and the other for insoluble grits to stop the chickens from becoming confused and ingesting too much of it.
Grits are easily accessible and are fundamental to your chickens’ health. Without grit, your chickens can’t absorb all the wonderful nutritious foods you have provided them with, so ensure you prioritize it.