Friday, April 11, 2014

Feathered Friday: Grit and Chicken Digestion

Ah, sweet dirt.  It does a chicken good.  (All birds, actually.)

I'm taking about grit the birds use to help digest their food.  It is an essential element to keeping a healthy flock.  Allow me to elaborate.

This is the anatomy of a chicken:
I'm focusing on the white globbies, starting with the crop and ending with the gizzard.

The crop is an expandable pouch used to store food (& grit) for up to twelve hours.  The food (& grit) then moves to the gizzard, but slowly, a little at a time.  

Digestive enzymes are added in the gizzard, which is the muscular part of the digestive tract.  The gizzard uses grit to grind the food into more manageable pieces.

So here we are, back to the all important grit.  Chickens need grit to digest their food, and if they are getting anything other than feed in crumble form, it is vital to their digestive health.  Chicks and chickens who do not have access to dirt in an outside run or by free ranging should have it provided to them.  

There is commercial grit available, but it's easier to offer dirt from your own yard.  It has its health benefits, too.  By placing a clump of dirt with grass or other nummies still intact, the chicks will be exposed to the dirt they will be living on later.  Thus any bacteria or other pathogens may be administered in small doses and help build up the chicks' immunities.

When I put a bowl of fresh grass and dirt into the brooder, the girls go crazy.  They peck at each other and beat their wings trying to be the first to get some of the goodies.  (Below are a few pictures of the girls after a fresh clump was placed.  You'll notice Mine ran to the bowl and stood on it to prevent the others from getting access until she was through.  I think we've found our flock leader.)

Dig that Dirt!

1 comment:

  1. This is a very interesting post. I am stopping by from the We love Mom Bloggers Facebook group. Hope you will stop by and follow me back, thanks.