Do chicks eat shavings?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by tofupup, Dec 25, 2013.

  1. tofupup

    tofupup Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 7, 2012
    I have one chick with her mother on a bed of shavings in a dog crate. My housemate, who frequently acts like he knows more than he really does, tells me that baby chicks will get confused between their food and shavings, and will die when they eat the shavings. Is this correct?

    If I don't use shavings, what should I use -straw? He also claims that chicks will eat straw, which doesn't even look possible since the chick's beak is far too small to even fit around a piece of straw.
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    They will eat some shavings, or whatever litter you have, just hopefully not enough to do them in. Lots of people cover the shavings ot floor with paper towels or old rags for the first couple of days, til they are a bit in the habit of eating the chick feed. Uses a lot of paper towels, but it does avoid this problem.

    I've often wondered if they are more likely to get pasty butt, which is just a complication of constipation, if they do eat shavings.
  3. petrel

    petrel Chats with Chickens

    Mine pecked at the pine shavings a bit, but I did not see them eating them.
  4. beaudi87

    beaudi87 New Egg

    Dec 25, 2013
    During the first week of having our first flock ever, we had one chick with a severely impacted crop. After trying a few methods to clear the blockage we took her to a bird vet who was able to suck out all of the gunk that was causing her great discomfort. Discomfort to the point of not being able to stand up and walk herself to the food or waterer. The bulk of the gunk that was sucked out of her crop was pine shavings. So, where as this may not be the norm, it can certainly happen.

    We switched to sand and didn't have any trouble again for two months until we put the chicks outside into their adult coop where we used pine shavings again. The same chick again engorged herself on the shavings and after a few days died. None of the other chicks have had any issues with the shavings.
  5. marktoo

    marktoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    We used puppy pads with paper towels on top for the first week. Supposedly helps prevent spraddle leg & prevents chicks from eating wood shaving till they figure out what they should be eating. Recommended by "Those who must not be named"....may have been overkill but we had no problem with either. Hey, we're novices! What the heck do we know? [​IMG] If we ever start chicks again we'll probably do the same thing.
  6. Cynthia12

    Cynthia12 Always Grateful Premium Member

    Apr 11, 2010
    I've had them eat them later on .. say around 3 weeks old. What? I've seen that a few times now in the many years that I've hatched, but they lived. Not sure why they would want to do that. ?? Silly babies. I do use the kitchen liner in the beginning after they hatch. Helps in many ways, one being that they aren't right on the shavings and accidentally eat a bit of shavings, and to help them get their footing.
  7. Aphrael

    Aphrael Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 21, 2013
    I have started chicks and ducklings directly on pine shavings from the beginning, and I have also started them on puppy piddle pads laid over the shavings the first couple of days. I didn't experience any troubles with either one. However, as mentioned above, it can happen. I wonder if chickens can have something like pica? I have read some awful stories of hens with impacted crop that just engorge themselves with non-edibles every chance they get. Myself, I have never witnessed my chickens eat anything non-edible, and there are even some plants and berries that they avoid like the plague, plants I have since learned are toxic. I have seen them taste some non-edible things that catch their eye but they always spit them back out and go looking for something else better to eat. (At least whenever I'm watching that is.)
    Some pros of the paper towels/piddle pads/etc. is that it is easier to clean up the first couple days, and also makes it easier to sprinkle food around to encourage them to start eating it. An added benefit for ducklings is that it helps keep their bedding much drier for the first few days. After that they are just too messy for the pads to keep in check! [​IMG]
  8. SampyArctica

    SampyArctica Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 1, 2013
    Brisbane, Australia
    I don't think they really know the difference between wood shavings and their feed when it's very early days, that's what I've read and also what I've experienced myself. I've found that if chicks find any wood shavings - they will attempt to eat them or at least peck at them a little, at first.

    What we do is have the wood shavings down, maybe about an inch and a half to two inches in the bottom of the brooder, and then also put a layer of paper towels down on top. You change the paper towel layer as often as you need. I did it about twice - three times a day for just two chicks. And then keep that up for maybe the first week. After that, you can have the chicks straight on the wood shavings and they won't really eat it by that stage, they'll know what/where their food is.

    I kept the paper towel layer up for about two and a half weeks the first time around, I think, just because it was so much easier to keep clean than wood shavings alone. But they start to scratch at the ground as they get older, so I ended up having to switch to shavings alone when they started tearing up the paper towel within five minutes of putting it down.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2013
  9. creepygothnursi

    creepygothnursi Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 27, 2013
    Chicks, and chickens in general, are not smart creatures, and will eat shavings, but I've not known them to eat enough to hurt them. The odd bird will give itself an impacted crop with shavings, but I don't think it's really a big thing. If yours seem to be eating a lot of shavings, or if you're just nervous, you can start them out on puppy pads with paper towels on top until they get a better idea of what is and isn't food. As they get older, they'll both figure out what's edible and not, and start tearing up the paper towels, so you can go to shavings at that point.
  10. Cooper Farms

    Cooper Farms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 25, 2012
    new sharon ia
    When I started hatching chicks i found that some would just die after couple days there throat would be full of shavings i stopped using the realy little flacks and whent with bigger ones. Now I have started using compressed corn cobs and haven't had on die since

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