Are my chickens eating sand? Is that okay for them?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Annie44, May 8, 2013.

  1. Annie44

    Annie44 In the Brooder

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    My silly babies!

    I just let them go out into the run yesterday for the first time. They're having a great time, a-peckin and a-scratchin. However....

    ...It appears that they are eating much much sand!

    They're run is floored with sand, and they peck and peck and peck at it. I understand this is how they find bugs and other chicken delicacies, but I can see that they are picking up and swallowing the sand---lots of sand! Also, I floored the coop with newspaper once (I will *not* be doing that again) and so there's a few scraps of paper that made their way into the run. I saw two different chickens snap them up, then swallow, and the paper was no more.

    Their food looks a lot like sand--they're still on starter feed. Could they be mistaking food for sand? How do I get them to stop eating sand? Will it ruin their stomachs?

    Thanks!
     
  2. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Songster

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    This is completely normal and natural. Chickens do not have stomachs and they don't have teeth. Instead they swallow food whole and it collects in an organ called a crop (which you can feel if you run your hand down their chest, slightly to the right). The food then goes through a very strong muscle called the gizzard. Chickens eat rocks (usually called grit -- they probably sell this at your feed store). Those rocks collect in the gizzard and when the food passes through that muscle grinds the little rocks against the food to "chew" it and break it down.

    It won't hurt them. They need it and they know what they are doing.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2013
    2 people like this.
  3. Annie44

    Annie44 In the Brooder

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    Ahhhh! I feel so silly! How much more ignorant can I get to not even know my chickens had stomachs? And I did so much research... :hmm Ah well. Thank you for enlightening me!

    Smart babies!
     
  4. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Songster

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    It's good to ask if you aren't sure! There is so much to learn so don't feel down. Sometimes they will eat stupid things too.

    It is good to know about their crop though as it is something you can check if they ever appear ill.

    Good luck!
     
  5. Nutcase

    Nutcase Songster

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    My Coop
    Good advice. BUT don't assume that chickens always know not to eat what's bad for them. They still go for nuts, bolts and styrofoam!!
     
  6. Annie44

    Annie44 In the Brooder

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    Okay, thank you both!! I'll keep monitoring their newspaper consumption [​IMG]
     
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

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    I was just going to say watch for Styrofoam! Little buggers will eat it so fast. It doesn't seem to hurt them, but the thought of it's just nasty [​IMG]
     
  8. schmism

    schmism Songster

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    Chickens should be provided a source of grit. It can be purchesed by the bag at the feed store. (generally they are grannet chips) There is chick grit also.

    I supply both grit and oystershell freely from rabbit feeders. they will go through about 4x grit to oystershell. They probably use 1 lb a week? (3 cup scoop)
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2013
  9. Annie44

    Annie44 In the Brooder

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    Feb 12, 2013
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    Oh, that is nasty! Thanks! [​IMG]
     

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