Discovered our 4 month old chicks are eating potting soil out of our pots. Is this safe for them?

SuburbChickens

In the Brooder
Jun 1, 2016
46
4
31
We discovered that our 4 month old chicks have been eating out of pots that have potting soil in them with old roots for a few days - the plants died and were thrown away but they are eating the soil. Is the potting soil safe for them to digest?
 

donrae

Hopelessly Addicted
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Jun 18, 2010
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Should be. I've had to call Poison Control about humans ingesting Miracle Grow in the past and they told me it's harmless. I can't imagine there's anything else there that would damage a bird.
 

SuburbChickens

In the Brooder
Jun 1, 2016
46
4
31
I do have a bowl of grit for them sitting out by the door of the coop and also have a bowl of oyster shell. I have seen one of the chicks eating a little bit of the grit, but they keep coming back to the pots constantly, like the potting soil is candy to them or something. I also have plenty of food and water out and see all 3 of my chickens eating and drinking from those as they should. Our 7 month old hen is now eating out of the pots too, so I thought I would double check before I try to place the pots somewhere else - right now they are around my patio and down low. I guess I won't worry about moving them if it's alright, although they are starting to make quite a mess. Also, I plan to have flowers or herbs in them again once our hot months are over.
 

donrae

Hopelessly Addicted
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Jun 18, 2010
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I put large pretty rocks in my pots to deter the chickens from tearing them up. Or, I'll plant bulbs or whatever and lay a screen of chicken wire over to keep the birds from scratching or eating. In my case, it's also to keep the cats out---cat poop is so gross
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but that's all more for my sake than the safety of the birds.
 

donrae

Hopelessly Addicted
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Jun 18, 2010
31,453
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Southern Oregon
Kev, I didn't know if I wanted to laugh or cry. I was the charge nurse at a nursing home and one patient loved to eat fish. Her husband brought in what he thought was a bottle of lemon juice to sprinkle on it. They used probably half that bottle before one of the CNAs realized it was the concentrated Miracle Grow, in a nice pretty lemon yellow bottle
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Poison Control got a good laugh out of that one
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but they said they get calls all the time from toddlers eating the stuff and it's benign.
 

Ulladh

Chirping
Aug 3, 2015
82
20
56
Are they definitely eating it or just pecking? My birds seem to just love pecking around where they dust bath, but dont think theyre actually swallowing it
 

SuburbChickens

In the Brooder
Jun 1, 2016
46
4
31
They were definitely eating the dirt besides making quite a mess of it too, so I picked up the pots and placed them elsewhere yesterday. They don't seem to be looking for them at all or trying to each the dirt in the ground - just pecking at bugs and oats/mealworms mix that I sprinkled on the ground for them for a treat. I think they were for sure attracted to the miracle grow potting soil, and that's why they were eating out of the pots.
 

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