Am I hurting my chickens? ANTS

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by suburbanchick, Apr 22, 2007.

  1. suburbanchick

    suburbanchick Songster

    Apr 7, 2007
    Raleigh NC
    Wierd emergency, I know. But it is something I need help with right now.

    I have a 4' raised bed that I was planting cukes in when I hit a mound and a million ants with white things (maggots?) in their mouths went scurrying. I took one of my 2 month old chicks and put her in the box cause I wanted her to take care of them. But of course she acted like I was trying to kill her and left immediately. Then I took their run and put it over the raised bed and put all four of them in there. They have no interest in the ants, and are trying to get out.

    They aren't fire ants... just little black ones. So why are they not eating them? I've seen them 'go to town' on an ant mound before and they loved eating them.

    Should I let them out, because they know something I don't know? Or should I make them stay in there and be my natural pesticides? (This is the biggest reason I got chickens in the first place!)

    I just went and checked on them again and they're huddled together in the opposite side of the box away from the ants.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2007
  2. suburbanchick

    suburbanchick Songster

    Apr 7, 2007
    Raleigh NC
    OK, I let them out bc I felt so guilty 'torturing' them. [​IMG]

    I am curious though if you guys have any ideas about why they wouldn't eat the ants.

    I just put some DE on the bed, so hopefully they'll be gone soon.
  3. Llysse

    Llysse Songster

    Mar 11, 2007
    The little white things were probably the ant "babies." Not to worry about the chicks not being interested. After reading so many stories on the forum about how cute chicks were fighting over worms and bugs, I still haven't been successful in getting mine interested in any. They ran, terrified, from an earthworm I tried to give them... which, I guess, was cute and funny, but not what I was after [​IMG] .
  4. MTchick

    MTchick Songster

    Feb 2, 2007
    Western Montana
    Ants are unique from worms and flies and such because ants contain formic acid. Formic acid is nasty stuff, and it prevents just about anything from eating ants- it is so strong it would burn their mouths and the chicks are smart to avoid the yucky ants. Some species of ants have less formic acid, and so maybe the other ants you encountered had less "ammunition" and so were fairly edible.

    And yes, the little maggoty things were baby ants. Chances are that if you dig deep enough to expose a lot of baby ants, you kill the ant colony and so I'd guess you won't have an ant problem after another day or two.

  5. AccidentalFarm

    AccidentalFarm Songster

    Mar 29, 2007
    My birds love bugs. Any bugs. They don't care. To them bugs=very good stuff!

    BUT I did see them turn up their beaks to an ant today. They each, in turn, pecked at it and decided it was not up to par. I was amazed, it was the first creepy-crawler that they have ever pardoned. It was also a black ant.
  6. Kirstyaa

    Kirstyaa In the Brooder

    Apr 6, 2007
    Suffolk, England
    I taught my chick to dig and bury about in the grass looking for insects, its adorable how she follows what i do. She loves them, especially worms and caterpillars! [​IMG]
  7. bayouchica

    bayouchica Songster

    Jan 23, 2007
    N.E. Louisiana
    That's the ONLY bug my chickens won't touch ! [​IMG]
  8. countrygirl4513

    countrygirl4513 Songster

    Apr 14, 2007
    Portland TN
    gave mine ants when they were 2 wks old. they loved them!! however, they despise and detest wasps and bees. they have a fit if they find one. it's the funniest thing to watch. one chick will give out a warning call and the rest come a runnin to see what's up.
    i'm getting crickets for mine as a treat this week. hope they like them.
  9. Blisschick

    Blisschick not rusty

    Feb 20, 2007
    Shepherd, Texas
    It's not unheard of for a bird of some kind to stuff themselves on ants, only to die from it later. I do recall reading an article a few years ago about a duck that went to town on an ant mound, only to die with it's crop stuffed full of them. I don't encourage my chicken to eat them, but they pretty much avoid them anyway.
  10. chickbea

    chickbea Songster

    Jan 18, 2007
    I think chickens have food preferences just like other critters do. I have one hen who adores dogwood berries so much she will leap WAY in the air to grab them (so cute!!!!!), while I've never noticed the others to pay any attention. I've also noticed that some love those little tan moths (don't know the name...), while others don't.
    As far as other bugs go, my chickens' favorites are beetley-types, and millipedes/centipedes. I've seen them pick at ants, but never rip into a nest like they do when they find an old log full of beetles. That's chicken party-time!
    I don't encourage worm-eating, because worms are so marvelous for the garden, and I believe they are an intermediary host for the tapeworm.

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