About Grit, your Chicks, and Chickens

Whether or not your flock needs grit is a common question, and the answer can be complicated considering there are different factors to consider. If you’ve already done some research then you know the answer is also a controversial one.  Well, there is an answer, and once you understand what grit is and what it’s for, you can make your own decision on whether or not your flock needs it.

Chickens do not have teeth and grit is used to help digest their food. That’s it, plain and simple! If your birds are in confinement and eat only commercial feed then grit is not necessary. Commercial feeds are formulated to be very easy to digest. But if your chickens are eating other foods that you offer, or are allowed to forage, you may need to provide grit.

What is Grit?
Grit is nothing more than granite, crushed into two different sizes, small for chicks, and larger for chickens.

For Chicks
It’s recommended that baby chicks be provided with grit, then again, chick starter is a commercial feed that easily digested, so…  grit  isn’t exactly vital to their survival either. But, to be safe, yes, I provide grit as a supplement to my chicks in the brooder. You can use grit or clean sand and sprinkle it on the bottom of the brooder, mix it in the feed, or free feed it. Doesn’t really matter, I’ve experimented all three ways and can’t honestly say one is better than the other.

For Chickens
If your chickens are allowed to forage either in a confined area or on acreage there’s only one thing you need to know. What are they foraging on? Is there adequate natural grit underfoot?  If they are confined to a run built off their coop with grass or wood shavings for footing then they need grit, especially if you offer them table scraps.  Here in Phoenix the ground is granite, so my hens are scratching around on a natural source of grit all day so there’s absolutely no need to feed grit.

Grit is available at your local feed store, it’s cheap and usually sold by the pound. Or, it might be right on your own property, and free!

Just a note…
Chicken grit and oyster shell is not for the same purpose. Grit aids in digestion, and oyster shell is used to provide calcium to your laying hens.

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Campine

The Campine chicken, pronounced Kam-peen, is a beautiful and rare breed that originated in the Kempen Country near Antwerp, Belgium. They are close relatives of the Belgian Braekel. The Campine chicken comes in two varieties, the Silver and the Golden. Hens and roosters are nearly identical in feather coloration.

In 1893, Campine chickens were first imported into America by Mr. Arthur D. Murphy of Maine and the American Poultry Association recognized the breed in 1914.

Characteristics
Type: Large Fowl
Size: Male: 6lb. / Female 4lb.
Purpose: Egg Laying
Recognized Varieties: Silver & Golden
Crested: No
Feathered Legs: No
Number of Toes: 4
Single comb

About
Moderately cold tolerant
Not especially docile
Non-setter
Not broody
Tolerates confinement
Alert, intelligent, active

Egg Production
Expect about 3 medium to large white shelled eggs per week.

Sexing
When Silver Campine females are mated to Golden Campine males the chicks can be sexed at day-old – the female chicks have a reddish blush and the males have gray on the top of their heads.

ALBC Status: Critical

For more information about the Campine visit the ALBC (American Livestock Breeds Conservatory.)

Orpington

The Orpington is one of my favorite breeds. They are very sweet, friendly, and seldom bullies towards the other members of the flock. However, living in the desert where the temperatures reach well over 110 they have proven their tolerance for heat to be quite low. Especially considering they can be broody and won’t leave the coop where temperatures can be life threatening. Every situation is different and they may be fine as free range chickens with plenty of shade and water.

Details of the Buff Orpington:
Type:   Large Fowl & Bantam
Size:   7-8 pounds
Purpose:   Dual (meat or egg production)
Recognized Varieties:   Buff, Black, Blue, White, (buff is most common.)

Egg Factoids:
Color:  Brown
Size:  Large
Frequency:  3-4 per week

Breed Features:
Feathered Legs: No
Crested: No
Comb Type: Single Comb
Number of Toes: 4

Character & Traits:
Accepts confinement well
Cold Hardy
Heat tolerant to 100 degrees
Docile, friendly
Broody / Setter
Good layers through the winter