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Chick grit and bedding questions

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by shamrockmommy, Mar 5, 2013.

  1. shamrockmommy

    shamrockmommy Chirping

    Jan 22, 2013
    Ok, Just thought I'd ask the experts here :)

    I'm getting conflicting info from 'experienced chicken friends' the feed store and online.

    First question:
    Bedding: At the feedstore, they were on wood shavings. At home in the brooder, I had pelleted wood bedding ready. When we took the chicks out of their box, I went ahead and dumped those shavings in too- probably a handful of the wood shavings.

    They started eating the shavings, not just pecking at them, but I watched them snatch them up like they were the best treat ever and gulp the shavings down. I covered this all with paper towels then to stop them eating the shavings. This worked except they all wanted to hang around and peck at and eat each others poo [​IMG]
    So, I already have guinea pigs and a bunny who eat hay daily, I decided to remove the paper towels and cover the wood pellet bedding and the area of shavings with hay. I tamped it down so they wouldn't get feet caught or trip.
    They LOVED the hay and have spent many hours pecking at it, dashing around, scratching at it (for pieces of the wood shavings below, ack!).

    Experienced chicken friend said "they need grit if you're going to have hay in there." I could see that as a benefit because of the seed heads and the dried grass hay. So I gave them a bit of chick grit from manna pro in the end section of their feeder.
    Now I'm reading they shouldn't have grit till they're 2 weeks old, but if they're munching down the shavings don't they need grit to digest it?

    Also, let me know if I'm over thinking this!

    The chicks are 3-4 days old now, very active, happily exploring with gentle peeping. they also did not like 95 degrees, I have it down to 85 and they are much more willing to go over where the heat lamp is pointing now and snooze. No loud peeping or clumping together.

    They are super cute, no pasty butt so far (I have the probiotic powder in their water).

    Am I doing it right or am I going to hurt the little buggers?


  2. Charlieandlola

    Charlieandlola In the Brooder

    Jan 13, 2013
    I think it will be fine. My hatchery also recommends putting them on paper towel for one day and sprinkling a little food on the towel so they know what they should be eating.

    Just like any animal raising adventure, there are as many experts as there are opinions. Sometimes what works for one, doesn't work for another.

    Last year I successfully raised a batch of cornish cross using pine shavings as the brooder bedding. While talking to a farmer, who raises a lot more than me, he said DO NOT use pine shavings, they will eat them and die. He uses chopped straw. However, I read in a book NOT to use straw because it mats down and is hard on their legs.

    Most people never think about giving the little baby chicks any treats, but if they were with their mother hen, they'd be eating whatever stuff she helps them find. Last year I gave mine Dandelion greens and pulverized boiled eggs. They picked at it, maybe ate it, mostly smashed it around in the bedding. It was fun, no harm done and they all grew up to be great egg laying hens.
  3. The only way a chicken has to explore its world is to peck at it. If they have something better or more interesting to do or eat I bet they will fall on it like a pack of hungry wolves.
  4. Brookeee2013

    Brookeee2013 In the Brooder

    Sep 21, 2012
    Ringgold, Ga
    My Coop
    My chicks ate shavings all the time. Theyre 3 months old now and perfectly healthy. At 2 weeks i did start mixing grit in with their starter. And put probiotics and electrolytes in their water since the day they were born.
  5. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    It sounds as though you've got it worked out. The chicks are happy with the bedding, are starting and will continue to only eat the feed, and have found a temperature they like.

    All I can do is chime in on how I brood. I use shavings (have bulk bag of it for older hens coop so readily available). I also use paper towels for as long as they let me. Will scratch it up in a day so replace for few days until they tear it up in few hours. By then they're sure footed and already set on the starter crumbles being food. My lamp is on one end of brooder and use a thermometer to check temp at bedding level. I keep 95F first few days then 90F, continue to decrease 5-7 degrees a week. I don't bother with grit as they don't get treats from me until outside and have grit available by scratching the ground. You don't need grit with starter crumbles only when other foods are offered. I wouldn't worry about a few hay seeds.
  6. debid

    debid Crowing

    Jan 20, 2011
    middle TN
    I gave grit at just a few days of age because when you brood outdoors, flying insects are attracted to the heat lamp. My chicks were catching bugs like there was no other food. So, I gave grit and they chowed it down. They all thrived.
  7. I grew raising chicks (25-50 each year) in a brooder my Dad made. He built it to the same dimensions as a full-size bed (as in bed that humans sleep in). He did this because of what he used for bedding...

    He put a deep layer of shredded paper in the bottom of the brooder, and then covered it with a full sized bed sheet. He stapled the sheet to the brooder, all the way around the edges. It wasn't tight like a drum. It was loose enough that it made hills and valleys as it draped over the shredded paper. He would throw out the sheet each year, and start with a new one the next year. I am pretty sure the sheets were thrift store purchases...

    It worked great, year after year....

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