Ants in & around brooder--curse or blessing?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by hyzenthlay, Apr 7, 2009.

  1. hyzenthlay

    hyzenthlay Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 26, 2009
    SW PA
    So, I just noticed that there is a whole ton of tiny ants coming out of the basement wall next to the brooder. The basement wall is a porous soapstone, and the brooder is just a large wire dog crate, so there's no way to keep the ants out of the wall, and then some of them naturally fall into the brooder.

    My question is, should I try to get rid of them (move the brooder away from the wall, spray insecticide on the wall) OR should I look at it as a free protein source for the chicks?? Will the chicks learn to eat the ants?? I only have 3 chicks--two are 1 week old now, and the third is 1 day old right now. They only seem mildly interested in the ants--they picked a couple up, but they dropped them right away and I don't think they ate any.
  2. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    I can't get my chicks or even my birds to eat ants.

    I'd move the brooder away and get out the Raid.
  3. cassie

    cassie Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 19, 2009
    Some ants bite and sting and can even kill a baby chick. I would be concerned abou them.
  4. PotterWatch

    PotterWatch My Patronus is a Chicken

    Apr 22, 2008
    We get lots of little black ants here, but apparently they have a defense mechanism that makes them unpleasant to eat, so our chickens won't touch them.
  5. kees

    kees Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 5, 2008
    I've only seen one chicken eat one ant. That's it. I've used DE on the ants and it seems to work.

  6. hensintheghetto

    hensintheghetto Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 3, 2009
    Sacramento Valley
    I had my chicks out in the yard over the weekend and they chasing around ants, eating them. They seem to be fine now...So in my case I'd go with blessing.
  7. firedove

    firedove Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2008
    Fitzwilliam NH
    Last summer when I was first letting my 2008 bunch of chicks out to free range they would go to the sugar ant hills and act like they had found the all you can eat buffet. They would eat every ant that came out of the hole and when ants stopped coming they would scratch the top of the hill open to get more to come. Sugar ants are a very small brown ant. When the chicks got a few weeks older though they were no longer interested in such tiny prey. They became a lot more interested in the grasshopper infestation in our yard, lol.

    That said however, my chicks were 4 weeks old at the time. I don't know if tiny chicks would be in danger from tiny ants. If they were big ants you would possibly have a problem since a number of large ants could probably injure a chick.
  8. daisychick

    daisychick Incubator Tetris Master Consultant

    Feb 8, 2009
    I think it depends on the kind of ant. My chickens will eat sugar ants, but they will not touch the bigger black ants. And luckily we don't have any of the red fire ants in our yard. They sting really bad and I am sure they would hurt a chicken. So I have no idea how you could identify what type of ant you have, but maybe it would help??
  9. hensintheghetto

    hensintheghetto Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 3, 2009
    Sacramento Valley
    Well the ants occasionally get on me and they don't hurt when they bite (maybe a tiny pinch), so I figure they'd be ok for chicks also.

    That's what I'd assume--if they hurt a human, that's got to hurt a tiny chick. If they don't hurt people, they probably won't hurt a chick...
  10. hyzenthlay

    hyzenthlay Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 26, 2009
    SW PA
    Thanks for the helpful replies, everyone.

    Well, when I went down to check on the chicks this morning, it was pretty gross. There had been maybe 10 ants in the whole brooder last night--just ones that seemed to have lost their way--the vast majority of them were on the basement wall. This morning, there were probaby 100 or more ants in the brooder, and they were all over the chicks' treats, food, etc. The chicks, clearly, were not making any effort to eat them.

    So, as disappointed as I am in the chicks' first (non)display of foraging ability, I took care of the ants myself. I moved the brooder away from the wall, and sprayed the wall around the ants' access point with indoor bug spray (can't remember what it's called, it's the kind you're supposed to spray on your kitchen baseboards for ant problems, supposedly safe for people and pets after it dries). I then changed out their bedding (luckily they're still on puppy training pads, not wood chips yet, so it was easy to ball it up with the ants and everything inside), their food, and their water.

    We'll see what it looks like when I get home from work. I don't think the ants were really harmful--they're just the common tiny black ant that invade the house sometimes in the spring. But I didn't want them swarming the chicks' area, either. I really wish the chicks had seen it as the all-you-can-eat buffet (lol), but maybe these ants are the type with the bad taste defense mechanism or something. I don't think they were too big for the chicks--they weren't much bigger than some of the big chick starter crumbles. I'll look into getting some DE for if this happens again, and just for general use. I try to avoid using nasty chemicals if possible, but it seemed like my best option in a pinch this morning.

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