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DIY Grit and Calcium Dispensers for your Chicken Coop

grit and calcium dispenser on wall

I love using repurposed items and turning something rusty and dented into something wonderful.

This easy DIY project for your chicken coop uses vintage metal match boxes that can be found on ebay, at antique shops, yard sales or on Amazon for just a few dollars.


Chickens need a calcium supplement not only to make nice strong eggshells but also to create the contractions needed to push the egg out.

So it's important to provide them with a constant supply of free-choice calcium in the form of either crushed eggshell or crushed oyster shell.

Chickens also need grit (small, coarse stones or pebbles) to help them digest the food they eat since they don't have teeth.

And these DIY dispensers are perfect to hang in the coop and provide your chickens the shells and grit they need.

But first, little history about vintage match boxes...

Metal matchboxes were introduced in the mid-19th century, when 'friction' matches were first invented.

At that time, stoves needed to be manually lit, so housewives would store matches in a metal box usually hung on the wall near the stove. Many times, there would be advertising on the front panel of the box or a space for a business to apply their own  paper ad. 

[Fun fact: Match Box cars were named because the original boxes they came in looked very much like the vintage match boxes, or so the Hasbro execs thought.]

This project is so easy and only takes a few minutes of actual hands-on time, a few hours start to finish, which is mostly because of the drying time for the paint.  


DIY Grit and Calcium Dispensers for your Chicken Coop

Here's how to make your own dispensers.

What you need:

Metal match box (check antique shops, Amazon or ebay)
Spray paint (I used Chalked)
Newspaper
Small piece of cardboard
Chalkboard paint (here's what I used)
Small paintbrush
Permanent chalk marker (here's the one I used) or Piece of Chalk
Clear polyurethane spray (here's what I used)
Short piece of ribbon

What you do:

Stuff the match box with cardboard or small pieces of paper bag so the paint doesn't get inside your box. Spray with at least two coats of spray paint, letting the paint dry in between coats.

When completely dry, remove the paper and cut two pieces of cardboard to wedge against the sides of each box to cover the holes and keep your grit/shells from falling out. 

Using the chalkboard paint, paint the front panel of each box with two coats, letting the paint dry completely in between coats. 

When the paint is dry, use a piece of chalk or chalk marker to write "Grit" on one box and "Shells" on the other.  Apply a coat of clear polyurethane to set the chalk. Let dry.

Attach a short piece of ribbon to the hole in the top of each box and hang them in your run or coop so your girls can eat as much or as little as they need.

Your chickens shouldn't bother with the paint, but if it starts to fleck or peel or they are pecking at it, remove the dispensers or sand the surface and apply a new coat of paint.











Watch as I make a dispenser LIVE at Camp Country Living! 

For more on how I collect and dry eggshells for my girls' calcium needs, read HERE.

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