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Your Guide to Chicken Grit | Why, When, and How to Feed It

Grit is an essential part of a chicken’s diet and in this article, we’ll go over when to feed chickens grit, why it’s so important, and how to easily start feeding it!

A pile of grit to feed chickens

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Of all the animals I’ve raised over the years, chickens are by far one of the easiest! But I completely understand in the beginning how overwhelming it can feel trying to learn “all the things.”

So I hope this article will help you learn all you need to know about grit so that you can raise happy and healthy chickens!

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What is Poultry Grit

There are two common types of grit you’ll hear chicken keepers refer to.

Insoluble grit and oyster shell grit.

I don’t necessarily think of oyster shell as grit though. Oyster shell is given to laying hens to give them additional calcium they need for laying eggs, whereas “grit” is needed to help with their digestive system.

So if you’d like to learn more about the benefits of oyster shell for chickens, head over to this article here, 3 Benefits of Oyster Shell for Chickens.

For the purpose of this article, I’ll be focusing on insoluble grit which is typically made from flint or granite and is ground into tiny pieces. 

Insoluble chicken grit

If chickens have access to naturally pick up tiny stones or pieces of gravel on their own, it can work just the same as feeding them grit purchased from a store. 

However, depending on your setup if chickens can’t access grit naturally it’s important to provide them with some. 

There is also chick grit which is specifically designed for chicks 8 weeks and younger. It is ground into an even finer substance for them to more easily digest.

Why Grit Is Important

Chickens have an amazing digestive system but unlike most animals, they do not have teeth.

Instead, chickens need to swallow small stones, pieces of gravel, or grit to end up in their gizzard to help break down their food into a digestible form. 

Without some form of grit in their gizzard food may not properly break down which can lead to blockages in their digestive system, poor nutrition, pain, or the worse scenario, death. 

Do All Chickens Need Grit

If your chickens are only eating commercial layer pellets or crumble it is not necessarily needed because that kind of feed is created to break down more efficiently.

However, if they have access to any other types of food such as scratch, grains, kitchen scraps, grass, weeds, etc they need the grit to help break it down so their body can properly digest it. 

Grit is also very inexpensive and will last a long time and so it is worth putting out just in case your chickens need it.

When to Feed Chickens Grit

You should start feeding grit to chickens once they have access to anything more than just pellets or crumbles.

In general, this would be once your chicks are old enough to be taken from the brooder and added to the coop. 

A hen eating grit from a free feeder

How to Feed Grit

I believe it’s best to keep the grit in its own separate container that chickens continuously have access to.

Grit is not a treat and so chickens will not overeat on it as they would do with something such as chicken scratch. 

They will eat it when they need it just like they would do with eating oyster shells.

But if you’re just starting out with offering grit it may be beneficial to mix small amounts into their feed to let them know it’s available and to ensure that they get tiny amounts here and there. 

If in some case you notice your chickens devouring the grit then you can take away free access to it and just offer a tiny bit each day. I have never personally experienced this happen though.

Are Your Chickens Effectively Digesting Their Food?
Learn more about grit in my Youtube video

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some common questions many backyard chicken keepers ask about grit.

Do you mix grit with chicken food?

No, I recommend keeping it available in its own separate container so that chickens can eat it as needed. But when you first start feeding it you can offer small amounts mixed in with their feed to ensure they get some if they haven’t discovered it yet. 

How often do you feed grit to chickens?

I believe it should always be available to chickens so they can eat it whenever they need it. The nice part is that a small bag will last a very long time because chickens do not eat very much that often. 

Does chick starter feed have grit?

No, chick starter feed is ground up finely enough that chicks don’t need additional grit to help digest it. But if you’re feeding your chicks anything other than chick starter you should also provide them with chick grit which is ground up into smaller pieces than regular chicken grit. 

Can chickens eat too much grit?

Some chicken keepers out there say that chicks may over-eat on grit causing them to have compacted crops so that is something that you can keep an eye on. However, I have never experienced this to be the case. 

I have also never experienced my older chickens over-eating on grit either. But I understand that you can “never say never.” So I would not worry about it but if you notice that your chickens truly are eating a lot of grit then I would not give them unlimited access to it. 


I hope you learned all that you needed about when to feed chickens grit and why it’s so important! If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or send me a direct email.

If you don’t have grit out for your chickens be sure to grab some here on Amazon.

Going forward, I encourage you to sign up for my FREE Chicken Keeping Checklist below where I give everyday tasks and tips for making chicken keeping efficient, fun, and easy!

Get your FREE Chicken-Keeping Checklist!

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A hen and a pile of grit


  1. have you experienced a marble size ball on either side of the wattle? My rooster has this, was able to squeeze out from inside mouth which was a yellow smelly substance. in about a week it has come back and can’t squeeze it out. He is about 6 to 8 years old

  2. Thanks for informing me about how to aid in the breakdown of their meal into a form that can be digested, hens must ingest tiny stones, bits of gravel, or other foreign objects. I will keep this in mind so I can relay it to my parents who are moving outside of the city on a farm. I know they’ll need poultry grit for the chickens they plan on raising there.

  3. We are raising Cornish cross for meat birds. They are about 3 weeks old. I will be taking them off of crumbles and start feeding them an all natural diet( cracked corn, sunflower seed, whole wheat, milo and oats). Will they be able to adapt to this new food? I plan on having them in chicken tractors. Will I need to consider having grin for them? And should I introduce grit This early?

    1. yes. insoluble grit is different from oyster shell. oyster shell should be considered a supplement rather than actual grit.

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