Adding a little dirt to the brooder...

ValerieJ

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I have read several times on here that adding a bit of dirt from the chicken run into the brooder would be good for the chicks and help them build immunities. I have a 2 week old and 3 at 3 weeks old in the brooder and one of the older ones is trying to dust bathe in the pine shavings. I put a little dish of dirt in the brooder (from the chicken run) and they all immediately started eating it!!! I added a little grit hoping they would eat that instead. Nope. So I gave them a few meal worms to distract them. Oh boy did that work. Their first experience with them and they thought that was awesome.

My question to the experts is, will they get sick because they ate some of the dirt?
 

Ridgerunner

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I'm one that feeds dirt to the chicks in the brooder. If you have older chickens that gets them any probiotics the adults have. Whether you have other chickens in that run or not, it gets grit in their system. You don't have to buy them grit if you have any small rock in your dirt. Even if you don't have other chickens your soil may harbor stuff (mainly Coccidiosis) they need to start working on immunities against. They even get some minerals from that dirt.

Will they get sick because they ate some dirt? It's possible. Parasites are more of a risk than a disease. Coccidiosis is caused by a parasite. Something could just float in on the air even if you don't feed then dirt. They are eventually going to come into contact with whatever you have in your dirt or general environment. I want mine to make that contact while they are in the brooder. I can observe them better. If you keep the brooder pretty dry and keep water clean they are unlikely to come down with many things. But yes, anything is possible. But mine never have.

I do not want to raise mine in a totally sterile environment. I want them to strengthen their immune system before they hit the ground and get exposed to things they are going to be exposed to eventually anyway.
 

ValerieJ

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I'm one that feeds dirt to the chicks in the brooder. If you have older chickens that gets them any probiotics the adults have. Whether you have other chickens in that run or not, it gets grit in their system. You don't have to buy them grit if you have any small rock in your dirt. Even if you don't have other chickens your soil may harbor stuff (mainly Coccidiosis) they need to start working on immunities against. They even get some minerals from that dirt.

Will they get sick because they ate some dirt? It's possible. Parasites are more of a risk than a disease. Coccidiosis is caused by a parasite. Something could just float in on the air even if you don't feed then dirt. They are eventually going to come into contact with whatever you have in your dirt or general environment. I want mine to make that contact while they are in the brooder. I can observe them better. If you keep the brooder pretty dry and keep water clean they are unlikely to come down with many things. But yes, anything is possible. But mine never have.

I do not want to raise mine in a totally sterile environment. I want them to strengthen their immune system before they hit the ground and get exposed to things they are going to be exposed to eventually anyway.
Thanks for that answer! I didn't realize you want the chicks to eat the dirt. Now I'm not worried. I do give my chicks and hens grit because I'm not convinced there are any rocks in my dirt. They live in an orchard and the soil is pretty soft. I figure they just wont eat it if they don't need it. Rather than setting a dish out with it I just scatter some under one of the trees.

Of course, the chick that wants a dust bath has not tried that in the dirt. :(
 

ValerieJ

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My brooder litter used to be composed entirely of 6” of dry soil and worked perfectly in terms of hygiene but also allowing chicks to scratch around and dust bathe.
That's a great idea. I started out with sand and very quickly decided it was a bad idea for me. I use a dog crate with 6" of wood around the bottom to keep the bedding in and make it warmer for the chicks when they are really little. Trying to scoop the sand was not convenient for me at all. Perhaps I used the wrong kind. Dirt would have been easier. Thanks for the idea.
 

gtaus

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I have read several times on here that adding a bit of dirt from the chicken run into the brooder would be good for the chicks and help them build immunities.

I put a little dish of dirt in the brooder (from the chicken run) and they all immediately started eating it!!! I added a little grit hoping they would eat that instead. Nope.

My question to the experts is, will they get sick because they ate some of the dirt?

I have also read that adding a little dirt for the chicks in the brooder is a good idea. I used sand as grit for the chicks, and when they got older I bought some #2 grit. If you have small pebbles in the dirt, you probably don't need anything else. Anything is possible, but I suspect that adding a little local dirt to their diet will not negatively affect your chicks and the beneficial results will probably outweigh any possible negative outcomes.

I dug up a clump of grass with dirt and fed it to my chicks in the brooder. After running away from it and cowering in the corner, they eventually came over to check it out and started to eat the grass. I don't know how much dirt was eaten as I used a deep litter bedding in the brooder and the next day everything was gone - or turned into the deep litter. Everything worked out fine for my chicks.

This expert advice is based on my many years (1) of raising chicks for laying hens. But I did manage to get 10 chicks into their 20th week today without a loss. So I consider that a success.
 
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ValerieJ

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I have also read that adding a little dirt for the chicks in the brooder is a good idea. I used sand as grit for the chicks, and when they got older I bought some #2 grit. If you have small pebbles in the dirt, you probably don't need anything else. Anything is possible, but I suspect that adding a little local dirt to their diet will not negatively affect your chicks and the beneficial results will probably outweigh any possible negative outcomes.

I dug up a clump of grass with dirt and feed it to my chicks in the brooder. After running away from it and cowering in the corner, they eventually came over to check it out and started to eat the grass. I don't know how much dirt was eaten as I used a deep litter bedding in the brooder and the next day everything was gone - or turned into the deep litter. Everything worked out fine for my chicks.

This expert advice is based on my many years (1) of raising chicks for laying hens. But I did manage to get 10 chicks into their 20th week today without a loss. So I consider that a success.
Thanks! Well, this is the first time I've tried it, so I'll take your 1 year of experience as expert advice. :D
 

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