Municipal Chicken Grit

The Louisville Legislature who introduced a bill to prevent chickens running at large on the city streets will find additional justification for his measure in a press dispatch from Dover, Mason county, which announces that “chickens are eating up the city streets.”

Dover, it appears, numbers among its infant industries a button factory which utilized mussel shells as raw material.  Recently, the town had been using the waste from this factory in repair of its streets.  The ground up shells are said to make a splendid top dressing for streets, and Dover has been taking a great deal of pride in its shell roads.

Like most small towns Dover has many chickens and no ordinance against the fowls running at large.  It is necessary to the processes of chicken digestion that the chicken should have some sand – or something just as good.  Ground mussel shells are a highly acceptable substitute.  In fact, some of the button factories sell a by-product known as chicken grit, which is supposed to make hens grow and roosters crow and to assist broilers of tender age to assimilate their dough.

Presumably the local sales of chicken grit have fallen off since Dover went into the business of making pearly streets.  There are many poultry owners who economize rather closely in buying supplies.  Some of them will not give up good money for anything that the chickens can scratch for with fair prospects of success.  Probably nine-tenths of the chickens in Dover are accustomed to foraging, and their owners, of course, see no need in purchasing grit so long as the necessary quantity is to be had through the enterprise of the municipality and the industry of the chickens.

The street problem in Dover at present consists mostly of speculation as to how long the streets will last under the combined attacks of the village poultry.  If a hen and a half can eat a pound and a half of thoroughfare in a day and a half, what is to become of the good roads proposition in a locality where everybody keeps chickens?


Louisville Courier-Journal, February 11, 1914