So, I remember reading or hearing how some birds need grit. Little rocks in their food to help birds digest food better.
Well, to be honest, this is me quoting a contributor (in a forum) I come across while trying to answer the question myself a while ago.
As it turn out, parrots do not need grit.
Why you ask?
See, parrots haul seeds before they eat them, so offering them grit won't serve any purpose and, more often than not, cause digestive problems, such as obstruction and impacting.
Dirt and grit can get stuck in your parrots digestive tract ,and may cause an early death.
However, chickens, pigeons, and doves eat whole seeds (do not haul them) and need the grit to help them digest them.
So, interestingly (or maybe not so much so), feeding parrots and finches grit will kill them, whereas a lack of the same for your pigeons, doves, and chicken, may harm them.
And how does grit help chicken, pigeons, and doves digest seeds, you ask?
Well, grit helps to grind and break down food in the gizzard, the muscular part of a bird's stomach, and if given from an early age, it promotes the muscular development of immature gizzards.
How Often Do Birds Need Grit
Pet birds do not need grit too often. It's a once in a while thing, as opposed to an everyday staple.
Moreover, birds kept at home may not need any since they are mostly fed pelleted diets and easy-to-hull seeds that can be digested without grit.
However, I think it's important to note there are two types of grit for birds, soluble and insoluble.
Soluble forms include cuttlebone, oyster shells, limestone, and gypsum, consumed by most birds as a source of Calcium and other minerals..
This form of grit is necessary for all bird species, including parrots, and should be offered regularly.
Soluble grit does not reach the gizzard but instead dissolves in digestive acids, meaning it won't help your chicken or pigeon digest whole seeds...
...but your parrot or finch does not run the risk of the grit accumulating in the digestive system, causing obstructions.
On the other hand, insoluble grit (which I'm referring to in this post) mostly comes as silica, ranging from sand to tiny pebbles.
This grit does not dissolve in acid.
It remains in the gizzard and is thought to stimulate appetite and help break down foods, such as whole seeds, in chicken and a few more birds.
Even so, insoluble grit will cause obstruction if offered to birds in large amounts or to birds species like parrots and finches that hull their seeds before eating.
Now, to answer your question more precisely...
...if you believe grit will help your bird (dove, pigeon), make sure you offer it sparingly.
Pet Place Veterinarians suggest you offer your bird an eight to a half teaspoon of grit every 2 years since insoluble grit remains in the gizzard for months, and too much will cause obstruction and impaction.
I know two years sounds like a long time, but yes, that's the advice, considering your birdies are house pets and not wild forms !
The suggestion is also not necessarily factual for chickens, which are fed 2 to 3 mm grit particles from as young as 3 to 10 weeks of age.
Based on this post on Legbars Broadway Website, a chick could consume up to three grams of grit per week.
Having said that, it might really not be possible to wait every two years to offer your birds grit, so I suggest you let them (doves, pigeons, chicken) outside every once in a while and let them fend for themselves.
They will pick what they need from the yard and leave, and you won't have to go through the hustle of figuring out what amount is enough.
How Do You Make Grit for Birds
Insoluble grit is nothing more than sand from a sandbox or tiny pieces of gravel that you can source anywhere in your local area.
However, soluble grit, acceptable for (and by) birds, is made from cuttlebone or oyster shell formulated mostly by mass producers and sold in the avian section in pet stores.
You can even make your own soluble grit at home with a few supplies from the store, such as oyster shells.
Essentially, you only need to grind the shell into a powder using a food processor or blender.
Dump the oyster shells you need into the food processor, then turn it on to break them down. How long you run the machine will depend on the shell consistency you desire.
For pigeons, doves, chickens, and such like birds, you do not need to grind the shells into a powder. They will consume it in grit form without much hassle.
If you want to reduce the size of oyster shells for your chicken, just crush them into smaller bits.
Now, if you prefer feeding your birds cuttlefish bone instead of oyster shells grit, simply scrape the bone with a knife into your birdie's soft food mix.
Scraped cuttlebone will serve the same purpose it would if your birds are fine chewing it up.
Should You Give Your Parrots, Birds CuttleFish bone
Cuttlebone and other soluble grit, like finely crushed oyster shells, provide birds with essential Calcium and other minerals for bone formation and eggshell production.
As such, feeding your parrot cuttlebone is desirable and recommended by expert bird keepers and avian Vets alike.
This might be unrelated, but it's ideal you note some birds like mynahs and toucans soluble grit (cuttlebone, oyster shells) albeit won't consume it raw.
The birds will only consume cuttlebone scraped inside their meal and blended (powder) oyster shells mixed in soft foods.
Do African Grey Parrots Need Grit
African greys, or any other parrot, do not need grit (sand, gravel) in their diet. Neither do finches and canaries, but cuttlebone or oyster shells (soluble) are recommended for calcium supplementation.
You only need insoluble grit when you have pet pigeons, doves, or any other bird that consume seeds before hauling them.
Well. that's all for this post. See you in the next one.
Enjoy being a bird parent🦜🐓🐦.