Early immunity opinions wanted


5 Years
Sep 21, 2017
Upstate NY
So I've read that it's a good idea to give new chicks a plug of sod to expose them to your local coccidia while they are young. Lazy Gardener might be who I noticed saying this. Plenty of sense in that and I did so with my fall chicks.

I have eggs in my new bator now and I'm wondering how this applies to winter. Give them half frozen dirt, seed their bedding with coop bedding, dig under coop bedding to get dirt? I have bird feeders in my yard that are possible hot beds of local bird "bugs", use dirt from there?

Or none of these is useful? Thank you.


In the Brooder
Apr 4, 2018
I am also wondering about this as we are still under 2 feet of snow even though it is April 6th. Can I just buy a piece of sod from a garden centre?


Mar 29, 2018
South Western Idaho
I've been doing this exact thing with my babies!!! While we are building the coop and setting posts, of course we are digging up chunks of dirt/sod so I'm taking handfuls and putting them upsidedown in the nursery to let the chicks scratch and eat at it. They LOVEEEE looking for little critters in the dirt. Keeps them occupied while they get restless wanting to use their new little wings! Everyone is healthy and happy as can be.


Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Dec 11, 2009
Colorado Rockies
There are more pathogens in a hunk of sod from your yard than you could imagine. Scraping the snow away to expose soil where your adult flock often free range and digging up a small clump is a very good and safe way to immunize baby chicks in their first two weeks as this is the window off opportunity where chicks are developing immunity and resistance.

Buying some sod at your garden center is actually dangerous, not so much to baby chicks, but to the adult flock as there could be pathogens such as coccidia that are foreign to your yard, and therefore your flock has no resistance to them. And it's pointless to expose your chicks to these foreign pathogens because they won't be the ones they need resistance to.

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
What @azygous and @rosemarythyme said. Commercially produced sod would IMO be a dangerous offering for chickens of any age. It is likely to be heavily treated with all sorts of ...cides, as well as fertilizer.

As for frozen ground, welcome to the club! Do you have your driveway plowed? If so, are there any bits of sod that have been turned up in the plowing process? Do you have flower beds against your foundation? If the soil there has not been treated with any fertilizers, or ...cides, if it's not been used by local cats for a community litter box, you might find some soil there. Don't use that soil if it's been covered with dyed mulch.

Frozen ground is one reason why I delay hatching until I am ensured that I can get some soil for my chicks!

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