Do they know the difference between their food and the wood shavings? If not, try putting paper towels over the shavings and completely cover any wood. BTW...what kind of wood shavings are you using. Just an FYI, cedar is toxic to chickens. Mine will sometime do that. By nature they like to scratch and peck at the ground. Just continue to monitor. You don't want them eating too much and getting their crop impacted, or so full that they can't break it down. Best of luck to you.
We've had our chicks on pine shavings since the day we got them. Never did use paper towels, just the Gro-Gel. They found their food immediately.
I've spent several hours observing them, and one thing they love to do, is pick up the most unusual shaving around. They carry it and "play tag" with it.
I've never really seen them eat any of the shavings.
The other day, when I removed the cardboard brooder border, one of the chicks found a brightly colored tag (about 1 square inch). She carried it all around the coop, showing it off to all the other chicks.
I worried a bit about them pecking at the tops of the bright blue screws we used to tie the coop to the concrete pad, but haven't seem them pay a bit of attention.
My chicks dig around in the shavings but they never seem to eat any of it. I've seen them run off with a bigger chunk too though. Its really cute. Are they acutally eating it? Or? Because if you see then digging and moving the shavings around, and pecking at the shavings, chances are they are just looking for food. Mine like to move all the shavings in one spot to another spot so there is a hill to climb on, and so they can scratch the wood underneath. So there usually a spot with no bedding on it in there. I usually put some new stuff on the spot, but I think it ruins there fun, because I do it and then they run to go undo it, and make a bigger hill. Chicks are so funn to watch arent they?
I had them in the brooder from day one with wood shavings in it. Thats what my chicks did to. I would watch them at lunch and ne of them would always pick up the biggest or th darkest wood chip and run all around the brooder whie the other chased. t is really just a cue little game they play.
I know what you mean about putting the shavings in the water founts. I've gone from a 1 x 4 board laid flat on top of the shavings to a 2 x 6 laid flat and still having tons of shavings in the water.
This afternoon, they're getting a platform made with 2x4's standing on edge and a 5/8" plywood top. That will make the platform just over 4 inches high.
I'm hoping that is the final height as I go from two 1-gallon waterer's to a couple of 3-gallon top loaders.
So far, their feed isn't too big of a problem. They can still use the long plastic chick feeder. At least now, only their head fits inside the holes. The other feeder is a 3-pound hanging one that hasn't been hung yet. I sits on a block of concrete and has to be shaken down a couple times a day.
I found a roll of duct tape works great under a quart jar waterer, and I took the paper towels off on day 2, I think they do peck and play with the shavings, and at first I was apprehensive but as I watched them more, they were only eating theircrumbles in the trough feeder.