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Problem solving - Eating non-nutritive items

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

My three chickens seem to have developed a bad habit of eating their pine shavings and also dirt; I noticed today that they had kicked a bunch of straw and mulch aside and were digging with their beaks in the dirt).  Also, I noticed that one of them seemed to have a more pronounced breast bone.  So, I am concerned that they may not be filling up completely on actual food - the layer pellets and the snacks (sunflower seed and blueberries mostly) that my parents give them.

 

I plan to get a baseline weight on all three of them and to set up a second feeding station (so that the feeder's not as crowded when they go to bed and when they wake up). 

 

Is this normal behavior for chickens, and is there anything else you would do if you were me (check for nutrient deficiencies)?  I did think of trying to find a place for them where they can be on grass, and will do if that's necessary.

post #2 of 4
I wouldn't worry to much. The digging in the soil is very normal. Mine do it to find gravel which they eat to aid in digestion, and also to loosen the clay for dust bathing. Eating the pine shaving shouldn't be an issue for full grown hens unless they eat to much. I imagine it could cuase impacted crop in severe cases but otherwise the gravel will help.

Do you have grit available for them? It won't stop the digging, but might help with eating the shavings.

And they love grass. I let mine or in the yard 1-2 hours in the evening. It doesn't seem to be enough for them to dig up and ruin the yard but enough for them to get some greens and hunt for bugs. I also saw a post (on Facebook I think) on grass planters for the coop. It's just a standard 2x4 wood frame but not dirt filled and with a mesh or chicken wire over the top. They can eat the grass as it grows above the wire but can't dig that area out so there is always grass
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your reply.  We have never given them grit (our assumption was that they would pick it up from being outside).  I will try that.  I also like the grass idea.  My parents don't want them on our grass, so that might be a way to bring grass to them).

post #4 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by SusanD View Post

Thanks for your reply.  We have never given them grit (our assumption was that they would pick it up from being outside).  I will try that.  I also like the grass idea.  My parents don't want them on our grass, so that might be a way to bring grass to them).

Yeah that's all they are doing picking at the ground is digging for bugs and small rocks
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