Chicken Arks – Flexible Foraging Means the Best Diet For Your Hens
Chicken arks provide new ground for you chickens every time you move them – so do you still need to add grit to their feed? Will they need additional food at all?
These are the kind of questions Francostone that people ask about using a chicken ark to house their chickens. The design of chicken arks is based on a triangular shape with a roosting and nesting box at one end and the run at the other end. This gives the hens an integral run and the ark is portable, so your chickens are protected from predators and they get new ground every day – a sort of enclosed free-range arrangement.
So the answer to the question is that if your chickens are on new ground every single day, the ground has plenty of plant life for them to forage on and gives them access to gritty or stony soil, this may be fine – and all your chickens will need is some additional calcium to ensure you get good strong eggshells.
Grit is an important element in their diet, as chickens need grit to grind up their food. Chickens, like many birds, swallow their food whole. The grubs and insects, weeds and grass that they eat pass quickly into the crop an then on to a stomach that has digestive enzymes that start to break the food down. The next organ is the gizzard which is tough and muscular. What happens is that the bits of grit and small stones that chickens scratch up help grind the food up in the gizzard.
What you can do if you think they may not be getting enough grit is to collect small stones and add them to the area they’re foraging on. They love grit, so will eagerly snap it up. They should be tiny stones and hard gritty soil – and they’ll enjoy some more sandy soil to have dust baths in.