Poultry grit is essential if you are keeping chickens. Without it, they may be unable to digest their food. There are many types of grit on the market, but they fall into two main groups — soluble and insoluble. If you are unsure which sort you should be buying, here is a quick guide to each type.
The first main type of grit is insoluble. This means that it doesn't break down inside the bird's stomach. As hens do not have teeth, they cannot grind their food down before swallowing, so this must be done during the digestive process itself. Insoluble grit does the job by sitting in the bird's gizzard and grinding the food down.
Some hens will be able to pick up enough grit naturally, but it is a good idea to supplement their diet with insoluble grit to ensure proper digestion. The size of the grit will depend on the size of the bird, so you should check you are buying the right kind before using it — if it is too small, it will simply pass through without having any effect. Larger grit will eventually pass through anyway, so if you are in doubt you should use a grit that is a little too large rather than too small.
By contrast, soluble grit will break down fully during the digestive process, although the pieces are usually bigger than insoluble grit. Its main purpose is to provide extra calcium to the bird. This is vital for bone formation, but it is also needed for the birds to lay eggs, as the eggshells are largely made of calcium. If the hen does not have enough calcium to make eggs, it will start to leach out of the bones instead.
Most chicken feeds will provide adequate calcium, but this could become unbalanced if you are also feeding them greens and other foods. You will then need to add the extra calcium to ensure that the birds' bones do not become too weak. If this happens, the bones may become deformed and can even break. Suitable sources of soluble grit are crushed sea shells or limestone.
The correct type of grit for your birds depends on what is available naturally and the specific feeds you are giving them. If you are in any doubt as to whether you should be using poultry grit, just talk to a poultry grit supplier.Share