Can Chickens Eat Dirt?

Can Chickens Eat Dirt?

Chickens can eat anything and happily peck at foods such as seeds, veggies, and fruits. However, can chickens eat dirt? Yes! It is not unusual for chickens to eat sporadic and small amounts of dirt.

Why do Chickens consume Dirt?

While feeding or foraging, chickens eat vegetables, fruits, grass, seeds, and insects. However, since chickens lack teeth, they rely on their digestive system to break down food and absorb nutrients.

So, one of the main reasons you might see your chicken eating dirt, soil, or sand is to help their bodies digest food. Chickens can use the coarseness of all the components in the dirt that help grind and crush the food. 

The coarse dirt components stay in the Chicken’s crop and eventually end in the gizzard, where it continues to break down food. The digestive tract in chickens is built to digest different foods found in dirt, such as organic matter, germs, and worms. 

What happens if Chickens do not eat Dirt?

We hope you know the answer to this question: Can chickens eat dirt? If you don’t give your chickens dirt, it is not necessarily a problem unless you know one of these:

  • Chickens that can forage in a large area can find dirt and eat it
  • Chickens that forage in grassy areas will also have access to dirt
  • Chickens who get mash-only chicken feeds do not need to eat dirt
  • Chickens that consume different foods but don’t have access to dirt can get dirt through grit-specific, dirt, or sand supplement such as oyster shells

Is it bad for Chickens to eat Dirt?

While it is normal for chickens to eat dirt, the amount of dirt your chickens are eating and when they are eating it is worth nothing. Depending on where you live, the soil may contain certain minerals beneficial for chickens.

However, seeing a few of your chickens eating dirt regularly can be a sign of a digestive problem or a mineral deficiency. 

Which type of Dirt is best for Chickens?

The best type of dirt for chickens is the one they will happily eat which comes from two sources:

  • Whatever they eat in the backyard. Usually, chickens have a sandy area, pasture, and dirt 
  • You can also keep crushed oyster shells in their coop. Chickens can have crushed oyster shells as a calcium supplement

Many studies have been done to determine the best soil for chickens, but a clear winner has not been identified. So if you don’t have a particular type of dirt for your chickens, don’t worry. If your chickens can access bare sand, that will be good enough for them.

Some feeds in the market come with dirt. Double-check the packaging, and ensure the product has dirt. 

Is Sand safe for Chickens?

Yes! Chickens can eat sand but in moderation. The sand serves the same purpose dirt does and helps chickens break down and digest food.

Is Gravel safe for Chickens?

Unfortunately, gravel is unsafe for chickens, as it is too large for them. However, if you add gravel to your chicken coop, please use the Gravel with the minus. This means the gravel comes with small rock pieces that chickens can consume.


In this article, we answered this question: Can chickens eat dirt? There is nothing unusual about chickens eating dirt. 

Dirt helps chickens digest food efficiently. We also discussed the type of dirt that is best for chickens. However, moderation is key, so please ensure your chickens don’t eat too much dirt.

We're an affiliate! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.