Feeding Grits to Chickens (My Best Tips)

Chickens are some of the most adaptable animals out there, capable of withstanding nearly any weather conditions and eating just about anything

two hens eating corn and grits

Sure, most domestic birds live on a diet of feed with a few choice things thrown in, but most keepers enjoy giving their flocks supplemental foods and treats to help keep them engaged and thriving. But chickens cannot eat just anything including a few things that might surprise you.

How about something like grits? Chickens can eat all kinds of grains, and grits are basically just ground corn. So, can they have grits or not?

Yes, chickens can eat grits on a limited basis as a supplement or treat. Yellow and white grits alike are a good source of protein, carbs, and minerals. They are fine-cooked or raw, but they’re a little easier for them to digest if cooked.

Not really surprising when you think about it…. Chickens get corn in many forms, both whole and processed as feed and grits are just fine for them as long as they don’t get too much or get them too often.

You don’t need to worry about putting grits on the menu for your flock, but there’s a lot more you’ll want to know before you do that. I’ll tell you all about it below.

Do Chickens Like Them?

Yes, they definitely do. Grits are a favorite of chickens, as they like corn in any way they can get. Grits are a great way to give chickens a snack or extra calories, or they can easily be mixed into other foods to form an interesting meal option for them. They’ll love it no matter what.

Nutritional Profile of Grits

Grits are surprisingly nutritious, and an excellent source of energy. Grits contain very little fat, a surprising amount of protein, and tons of carbohydrates. All macronutrients that chickens need in order to sustain their energy levels.

But grits aren’t just raw bulk calories. They’re remarkably good in terms of micronutrients also, particularly in minerals but also some vitamins.

Looking at the vitamin lineup first, we see that grits are a decent source of thiamine and a good source of niacin, but they contain considerably less riboflavin and vitamin B6. They contain Trace amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E, and folate.

The mineral content of grits is considerably more impressive, as it contains a good amount of calcium and magnesium, lots of iron, phosphorus, potassium and a little bit of zinc to round things out.

However, grits have quite a bit of sodium naturally, so this is something that must be managed to avoid your chickens getting too much.

Health Benefits

Grits can do a surprising amount of good for your chickens, beyond just giving them plenty of energy to help keep their metabolism up.

All the micronutrients that they contain are useful for all kinds of different bodily processes, from oxygenation of the blood and formation of new red blood cells to nervous system health, healing, growth, organ function, and a lot more.

Somewhat surprisingly, grits are also a remarkably good source of antioxidants, particularly lutein and benzoic acid which have been shown to help sustain nervous system tissues and ward off diseases.

All together, the macro and micronutrients that grits have to offer can improve nearly every facet of a chicken’s health, and although they cannot get them as the primary part of their diet they’re one of the very best supplemental foods or snacks that you can give them.

feeding chick grit to my chickens
feeding chick grit to my chickens

Can Chickens Eat Grits Raw?

Yes, they can, the raw grits are a little bit trickier for them to digest. Raw grits are very easy to incorporate into chicken feed or other foods as a supplement, though, which makes them very quick and simple to serve.

Can Chickens Eat Grits Cooked?

Yes, cooked grits are also fine for chickens as long as they don’t contain high amounts of anything they shouldn’t have.

Cooking them does reduce the vitamin and mineral content somewhat, but it’s probably a wash because cooking them will make those nutrients more accessible and easier to digest. Just be sure not to serve them if they’re overcooked and sticky.

Sticky Grits Might Cause Crop Issues in Chickens

One thing to be concerned with, as mentioned, when serving your flock cooked grits is the fact that they might get too sticky. This usually occurs when grits are cooked for a very long time at a high temperature until most of the moisture is boiled away.

When this happens, they have a tendency to clump up and take on a paste- or spackle-like texture, and in such a case I wouldn’t give it to your flock.

Cooked, sticky grits like that can block the crop or gizzard of chickens and that can lead to major health crises, namely an inability to swallow and digest other foods.

This isn’t a common problem, but it can and does occur. Avoid bad outcomes by serving the grits once they are soft enough but still moist and fall apart easily when touched with a utensil.

Are Yellow Grits Okay for Chickens?

Yes, yellow grits are just fine and perfectly nutritious for chickens.

Are White Grits Okay for Chickens?

Yes, they sure are. White grits are basically identical to yellow grits nutritionally and totally fine for your flock.

Can Chickens Have Polenta, Too?

Yes, they can. Polenta is an Italian porridge-like dish that is very similar to good ol’ American grits, or hominy, though polenta is often made from buckwheat or a mixture of buckwheat and corn.

As with the more common domestic grits, it is completely fine for chickens when cooked or raw.

Be Weary of Grits Made with Butter, Salt or Cream

As a rule, most people prepare grits with a little bit of butter and salt, and sometimes cream. It makes a tasty dish, to be sure, but you must be cautious if you want to serve these cooked grits to your chickens.

Chickens really shouldn’t have butter or cream, so they can tolerate and digest a little bit without any problems. The same goes for salt, though grits already have plenty of naturally, and too much in their diet can lead to serious problems or even hypernatremia, sodium poisoning.

If you make cooked grits for yourself or your family with just a little shot of butter, milk, or cream, you can give them access to your chickens if you want but don’t make a habit out of it. Cooked plain, with water only, is ideal for your birds.

How Often Can They Have Grits?

Chickens can have small servings of grits two or three times a week at most, either by itself or incorporated with other foods. Grits are a great food for chickens, but not nutritionally complete or well-rounded enough to be a staple.

Preparing Grits for Your Flock

Preparation and serving of grits depends on what you want to do: if you want to give your birds raw grits, you can simply scatter it and let them peck at it, mix it in with feed to fortify it, or just hand it over on a bowl or tray.

Cooked grits should be prepared according to the package instructions until they’re considerably softened but will still fall apart easily when touched with a fork or spoon, and preferably made with water only.

Avoid overcooking the grits: if it turns out like a gelatinous formation that holds up like a cake or loaf, you’ve overdone it. Remember that sticky grits are more likely to cause crop and gizzard problems in chickens.

Can Baby Chicks Have Grits, Too?

Yes, but only rarely and in very small quantities. Baby chicks won’t have any trouble with corn once they are old enough to start trying new foods beyond their starter feed. You should also keep in mind that raw grits are even more challenging for them to digest since they are young and developing.

I highly recommend it if you want to give your chicks a little taste of grits you stick with completely plain cooked grits only, and only give them a few tiny nibbles to try.

They’ll benefit from the energy and nutrition that grits have to offer, but they’re in no way capable of fulfilling all of their nutritional requirements. It is a treat only!

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