Grit and Probiotics for Chicks

Along with providing food and water, there are two other things to offer your chicks that will greatly improve their vitality: grit and probiotics.

Chickens, like all birds, do not have teeth. They don’t chew. Rather, they swallow food whole. Their digestive tracts are designed to deal with this. Specifically, a chicken has a gizzard, which is an exceptionally strong muscular pouch that grinds up food. The gizzard does this with the help of small rocks that the chicken swallows. Even if your hens free-range, it’s unlikely that they can find just the right pebbles for their gizzard. Certainly chicks, in a cleanly bedded brooder, don’t have access to what their gizzards need to function properly. That’s why they need you to provide grit.

You can buy a bag of grit at the feed store or online. Basically, it’s ground up granite. Chick grit is finer than chicken grit. It might seem crazy to spend $10 on a bag of pebbles, but it is essential to the health of your new flock. This is not a new idea. I have a catalog from 1919 that offers bags of chick grit for sale.

The first day that the chicks arrive, make sure that they are eating their feed ration. Then, introduce the grit (if the grit is given first, they might overload on it.) I prefer a dispenser because it is less wasteful than spreading the grit on the ground, and I can see clearly when it requires replenishing. The chicks know what they need and will eat the right amount. In the first two weeks my 26 chicks consumed all of the grit in this container!

grit feeder

The other supplement that I provide my chicks are probiotics. Everyone’s intestinal tract has both good and bad bacteria in residence. When the balance is off animals don’t thrive and can sicken. You can provide your chicks with the right microorganisms by adding a product like Gro2Max to the drinking water. I did this consistently for the first two weeks. It doesn’t hurt to give it all the time, but I don’t, simply out of convenience. The chicks go through a lot of water and often make a mess. There are times when I do a quick clean up and refill from the outside faucet instead of bothering with water prepared with probiotics (which has to be mixed in advance and replenished daily.)

probiotic water

It’s better to have clean water than leave the fount dirty. A couple of times a week I fill the waterer with the Gro-2-Max laced water, which is enough to get the benefits of the product.

My chicks are strong, healthy, and active, due in no small part to providing them with grit and probiotics.


  1. They do look very healthy and happy. I can’t wait to see what they do when they meet the grand ladies of the Little Barn. <3

  2. They are not only healthy and happy, but also huge! I hardly recognize them. I am also looking forward to posts about a bunny next month. I look at the hutch and wonder who the lucky bunny will be.

  3. Thanks for info. Will be picking up probiotics this weekend.

  4. Sorry had to comment- I think Buffy needs a ramp to the ramp. Some days I know exactly how the poor old lovely must feel.

    • I was also watching her. It’s a nightly routine. Right before I go out to tuck her in, she goes inside on her own. She has a lot of health issues, and when she can’t come and go when she wants I’ll know that it is finally time to let her go.

  5. Hi Terry, I’ve been to a couple of your seminars before, at the Chelmsford Agway. In this post you talked about Gro2Max, does Agway sell these in store? I live in Bolton and the closest Agway to me is in Lancaster, which is where we are ordering our chicks from. If they don’t sell it, would you recommend any other probiotic products?
    Thank you!

    • I’ve seen it at Agway, but call ahead. If it’s not stocked they can order it for you. There are other brands on the market, too, but I haven’t used them.

    • Hello, Annie,

      Our company produces Gro-2-Max. It isn’t available in many feed/supply stores yet. We’re expanding distribution, but at the moment it still sells mostly online, through poultry suppliers and other retail channels. If you like, you may order directly (via Paypal) for free shipping. Just email with the quantity you would like and we’ll invoice & ship.

      Also, if you have a store nearby that you frequent for chicken feed & supplies, let the store know you’d like to purchase it from them, and they can contact us to ship some out.

      Greg Wahl
      BioNatural America Institute

  6. Hi enjoying your HenCam EVERY DAY !!!! I have searched the FAQ’s but can’t seem to find anything about whether I should just switch chick feed to laying feed slowly or not. The girls are about 14 wks old, I know I read they should get laying feed about 1 month before they should start laying,that info was on the bag of feed.What’s your view on this ?

    • When you run out of chick feed and your girls are at least 16 weeks old, switch to layer. No gradual transition necessary. Do not feed layer much earlier than that as the calcium in it is detrimental to the young birds.