A Couple Chick Raising Questions...


10 Years
Aug 24, 2013
Chicks are 2-1/2 weeks old right now. They have been in the brooder in our basement since day one. I'm not ready to let them see sunlight for play time yet :) Couple questions though:

1. Should a dust bath be provided in the brooder for them? They are on pine flake bedding. I have seen them roll around in it a little bit. If so, what type and size should I provide?

2. How early can I offer treats (dried mealworms) to win some of the shy guys over? Should grit be provided if I do offer anything other than chick starter?

3. Since they have never been outside, and all of their equipment was NEW with them, do I need to worry about Fleas/lice/mites? I want to give them some short supervised grass time outside in the next week. Will I need to worry then? Can chicks be dusted with DE?

Thanks in advance!
My chicks don't really get interested in dustbathing until they are older - and they are fine with pine shavings until they can go out and pick their own spot. I sprinkle a little bit of DE in their bedding for protection agains mites/lice. Don't use a lot of it though, as it can cause breathing problems.

Treats really depend on the chick - I would say you could start offering a few treats now. They might not be interested until they are older. Yes, you should provide some grit.

I wouldn't worry about fleas/lice/mites yet. I usually bring the chicks out around the age yours are. Make sure it is a sunny warm day and don't keep them out to long - you don't want them to get chilled.

Happy Chickening! CG3
and a late welcome to BYC!

You do not need to provide a dust bath for them. They are practicing for when they are outside. They'll figure it out.

Also I am not sure about mealworms but you can give chicks treats but yes they do need grit when you do this. But be sure to use baby grit, your feed store should have some. I use it for my bantams all the time as well. I also use it sometimes in with my large fowl and they are more apt to eat the grit that way.

I would wait awhile on the DE, it would probably be okay but I am super careful because of their sometimes sensitive respiratory systems. Just watch them and if it becomes a problem then I'd dust them with DE. One of the main carriers of mites and lice are wild birds (blue birds, robins, etc.) So I don't think you'll have to worry about mites and lice yet. But once they live outside I'd watch for birds coming in and eating your feed. That might raise your feed bill too.

Hope this helps
I have seen chicks as young as two weeks enjoying a dust bath, so it can't hurt, though I have raised many chicks w/o it and they do just fine. If you add some DE to the dust bath, that with help with the external parasite worries. Although, I use the word "worry" cautiously. I wouldn't worry excessively. Yes, if they are outside animals, they will eventually pick up some kind parasite. But don't worry excessively about it.
A few treats, especially high protein ones like mealworms are fine. Just make sure things like white bread (chicken crack) don't start taking over their diet. I like to use the 90% rule. Most of the diet should be chick starter. Remember how tiny they are and how little they actually eat, though. You can give them some sand - if they need grit, they will ingest it.
A taming tip - handle them daily, for short bouts of time. I have found that most of them go thru a "teenage" stage at around 5-10 weeks old where they don't want to be held. Insist, and you will have tame birds ;-)

I provided mine with a dust bath bin at about 3.5 weeks that I put into the brooder sometimes in the mornings (After I remove food and water for a short time - bathtime makes a MESS!!!!). A couple bathe with gusto. Others just pick and scratch. Either way they seem happy!

I try to keep my treats limited to healthy things at this point. A small dish of yogurt mixed with their feed, warm oatmeal mixed with a little yogurt, scrambled eggs, tomatoes, and other veggies. Mine are not remotely interested in meal worms.
Dust bath is up to you. Not needed by won't hurt them if you want to do.

I give mine mealworms (live, I have never tried dried) once they are a few days old. I pick the smaller worms out of my bin. They are usually wary of them the few few times, then LOVE them.
Give grit if you are giving anything that would need to be chewed up.

I wouldn't worry too much about mites. Add some DE to dust bathes and bedding when you move them to the coop and quarantine and dust any new birds you bring into your flock and you should be ok on mites and lice.

It is really good that you are thinking of all the possibilities and its always best to keep an eye out but don't worry too much either. I would take them out for a it. Sunshine and fresh air is good for all growing things. Good luck!! Enjoy your birds.
Thank you all! Being a rookie in all things chicken, I am sure more questions will pop up in the future. Can't wait to watch these guys grow up!
My mother hen was feeding tortilla bits to her chick at just two days old. He had no problem with it.

When I raise chicks in a brooder, I provide a small tub of sand for them to dirt bathe in. The take to it right off, almost all in their first week. Nothing is cuter than a tiny chick going all in with those tiny feet and wings!

When I introduce treats, the tub of sand has already provided the necessary grit that they need to digest them. I usually begin with a lettuce leaf, tofu, and mashed pumpkin.
I have heard that metalwork can give your birds internal parasites. I am not sure but definitely worth looking into.

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