What Is Grit and Why Is It Important?

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 15 July 2014


Adding shell grit to your chickens diet is vitally important - it’s essential to their digestive system healthy and functioning well, and helps to ensure they have access to the nutrients their bodies demand.

Here’s a little more about grit, and why it’s a great idea to add some to your flock’s feed.

What does it help with?

Grit is designed to help the chickens’ digestive system function well and break down the food as it should. The grit helps grind down the food in the gizzard, keeping their digestive system happy!

Shell grit also gives your chickens’ calcium levels a boost - something that is crucial to your flock’s bone strength and eggshell strength.

Can chickens find grit themselves?


If you allow chickens to free-range, they should be able to find enough grit on the ground to peck at to satisfy their digestive system requirements.  However, adding shell grit/ground up egg shells to your chickens’ diet is a great way to keep their calcium levels up.

If you keep your chickens in a coop run or fenced enclosure, it is recommended you add grit to their diets as they may not be able to forage enough naturally.

  What is store-bought grit made of?

Grit generally comes in three types - insoluble, soluble and mixed.

Shell grit for chickens in a bowl

  • Insoluble/Flint Grit - this grit is made of finely crushed granite.  When buying Insoluble grit, check with the pet store staff that it is the right size for your flock’s age. Having grit that is ground up too finely for your bird’s size means that it will simply pass through the digestive system and have no benefits.
  • Soluble/Shell Grit - ground up oyster shells/cockle shells and or limestone. (You can also add ground up egg shells to the mix for an extra calcium boost).
  • Mixed grit - a combination of the two.

Sometimes grit may have a touch of charcoal added to the mix, which further aids healthy digestion.

Where can I find it?

You will be able to find insoluble and soluble/oyster shell grit from virtually any pet store. They are generally available to buy separately, however some also sell ‘mixed grit’ for convenience.  A quick google search will also bring up places where you may be able to order grit online in your area.

Remember that chickens are incredible creatures that sense what they’re deficient in and eat accordingly - so if you pop mixed grit into their feeder, they will pick out the bits of calcium that their body may be craving.  Or, if your chickens are particularly good foragers and get enough grit from the ground, shell grit is always a good calcium additive for their feed.

How much does it cost?

Grit costs around $5 for 3kgs worth - they come in many different weights and sizes. This will fluctuate according to where you purchase your grit.

Grit is an essential part of your flock’s diet, and is needed to keep your chickens’ digestive system functioning normally - something that is crucial to their overall health. If your flock doesn’t free range in the backyard, and is kept safe by a solid chicken run (our Penthouse and Taj Mahal chicken coops both come with this feature) then adding grit to your chickens’ feeder is highly recommended.

This was written as a basic guide to the benefits of chicken grit - for more information consult your vet or poultry specialist.

Sources and further reading