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Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Question For You Chicken Keepers

I read that it's a good thing to move your chicks off medicated feed after the first week so that they don't become dependent on the medication in it, so yesterday, Steve and I picked up a twenty-five pound bag of organic chick starter from Concentrates on 8th in Portland, with which I am slowly replacing the Purina medicated chick crumbles that I got from the same place I got the chicks.  The Purina feed has chick grit in it; the organic stuff says to supply chick grit, which, fortunately, I bought along with the chick supplies.  My plan was to be able to give them chopped greens, etc., and I wanted to make sure they had enough grit to digest it.

Problem is, every time I put down the grit, the girls go nuts for it.  I put it down in one of those little red caps (three inch diameter- they're not like the caps on the milk jug or anything) and the girls gather 'round it and peck at it frantically, sometimes trying to scratch in it.

Does it taste particularly good to them?  Are they going nuts for it because they really need it?  They almost fight over it.  I poured a wee bit into every hole in the chick feeder and then took the majority of it away because I was concerned about their crazy behavior.

So what's the story with chick grit?

13 comments:

Amy Lagerquist said...

I always give chicks their grit as a dressing on top of their starter (or crumbles when they're a little older), assuming they'll eat what they need (just like the big girls do). Perhaps because you're presenting grit in a red cap, much like they're getting their treats (grass, etc.), they're equating the red cap with "special". I've never heard of any reason to withhold grit...so if I'm feeding in a several-hole feeder, I sprinkle a generous pinch or two on top and let 'em at it. If you're using one of the feeders where the bottle screws on (rather than the type where the top hinges open), then you might try giving them their grit in a separate container...but not a red cap. (As an aside, red incites picking/pecking, which is why if a chick is bloodied at all you have to pull it out or cover the blood with that purple stuff so it doesn't get pecked to death.0

Rae said...

We just mixed some in with their food every few days, because any other way, they'd go nuts on it. I think just because it was something new to peck at. We didn't really give ours buggy/grassy treats though, until they were a few weeks old.

Desert Willow said...

I only give my peeps grit every third day and only a light sprinkle over the crumbles. They really don't need that much and they can replenish it a bit at a time. Once the girls are out in the hen yard I don't give them any since they can get what the need while scratching about. I think at their age anything new causes them to get really excited! You should toss them a cricket and watch the antics! It's off to the "Chick Races"! Too funny. I have been keeping laying hens for about 10 years and have 15 of them right now ranging in age from 5 years to 6 weeks. Good luck with your peeps!  

Paula said...

Ah ha! So it's probably the color of the cap in which I feed them. Maybe a different color would be better.

It sounds like mixing it into their feed will be the best idea.

Thanks ladies!

Lisa said...

Hey Paula.
You will find that ANYTHING you put down will cause chaos! It doesn't take much for chickens to go nuts! :)
Lisa

Toni aka irishlas said...

I always mixed it with the feed.

I keep the chicks on medicated starter until about six weeks out from when they should start laying and then I switch to regular feed. Once they started laying, I add crushed oyster shell for calcium in small amount to the food, too. So far it's worked just dandy.

Are you enjoying chicken t.v.?

Rachelle said...

Back in the 1960 my grandfather had laying hens and did not supply them with grit. They were out in the penned yard and picked up all the gravel they needed to grind their food in their gizzards. I remember slicing up the gizzard to see the little rocks and stone chips they had picked up. What do you think happened before chicken keepers and manufactured grit? All birds do this...unless you know a few with teeth!

Paula said...

Lisa- I think I know what you mean. If I have my left hand in the brooder for any length of time, they peck at my wedding ring!

Yes Toni- when I have time for it. They are very entertaining. I'm looking forward to when I don't have so much to do that I can waste hours on them!

Rachelle- you are probably right, no doubt, but the girls are being brooded in a plastic box indoors, so I have to supply grit. I'll probably continue to supply something once they go outside as well, because my slippery clay soil doesn't have much in the way of sand or small bits of rock. However, if they manage to get what they need out of the ground, that'll save me grit money, so I'm all for it. Thanks!

Miriam said...

Our chicks have done the same - gone crazy for grit. And there wasn't anything red in sight! Who knows why - but it all seems to calm down at some point...

Paula said...

That's good to know, Miriam. I mean the calm down part.

Urban Hayseed said...

For what it's worth, I've had chickens for several years now, and after initial chickdom, never add grit. They get outside and dig in the dirt. I'll add some oyster shell if they seem calcium deficient (thin egg shells), but generally, we feed them dandelions, leafminer-infested greens, worms, and such, and they are all quite healthy. A chicken's a pretty adaptable (yet dumber than a sack of hammers) critter given a minimum of care.

Paula said...

Thanks Hayseed. You're the second person who advised leaving the grit in the store once they become big girls, so that's probably what I'll do. I'll think about it, anyway.

But as long as underneath their pine shavings and newspaper all there is is good ol' plastic, I'll continue to give them grit. Just not a lot all at once.

You are right about the sack of hammers. Much smarter than chickens.

Kristin said...

I have never fed chicks, mail order or home hatched, medicated feed. You might try feeding them some buttermilk instead as a probiotic. The antibiotics kill all the good stuff in their little systems so it is good to replace it to boost their immune systems.