Grit For Birds

I recently fell into the thick of a discussion while exploring the internet. Do you feed your birds grit?

On the one hand, there are some who believe that birds need grit to digest their meal. They will perish if they do not have it! Furthermore, if grit was terrible, why would all pet shops offer boxes of it in the bird departments?

My reaction? Most pet retailers do not employ competent employees. They are more concerned with marketing goods like mite protection and grit, and letting the consumer decide whether or not they are safe!


Birds in the wild have little control over what they consume. They will have to decide on seeds several times. Most wild birds have soft bills, which means they ingest the seed whole rather than “shelling” it first. Because the hull is indigestible, wild birds will ingest a few particles of grit. This will have an abrasive effect. When the seed and grit enter the gizzard (which is analogous to the human stomach), muscular activity scrapes off the shell and grinds up the meal. The shell eventually makes its way through the system.

Captive birds are given a pelleted diet as well as fruits and vegetables. The seed they consume is usually shelled, and the nut is eaten by the birds. Only a few confined birds, such as finches, canaries, and doves, consume the whole seed. Because these birds have fragile bills, they are unable to shell the seeds. Only grit should be administered in these circumstances, and only a few grains every week. If the bird consumes too much grip, it will get impacted in the crop and gizzard, resulting in serious medical complications.

Grit is also eaten by birds to enhance their nutrition. There are numerous kinds of “soluble” grit that birds may safely consume. This grit is composed of pulverised cuttlebone, powered oyster shell, gypsum, and limestone. As it goes through the digestive tract, the bird dissolves this substance using digestive acids. This is a far safer alternative than providing stone or sand, which is often available in pet shops or mixed in with bird seed.


Only a few tamed birds will need grit. Finches, doves, pigeons, and canaries will be included. If you do feed grit, limit it to a few grains each week. Grit should not be served separately since the birds will overeat it and cause issues. Do not feed silica-based grit intended for wild birds. Choose soluble brands with a high calcium concentration. Examine the components to ensure that it does not include rock or sand grit.

Never use gravel paper. This is not only constructed of rock, but it is also in the bottom of the cage with the bird droppings! I’ve never understood the rationale behind this.

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