Feeding chicks grit

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by kadota48, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. kadota48

    kadota48 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have chicks coming soon and wanted to kno if having grit available for them is a good idea?
    If so, what age of the chickens should i stop feeding them chick grit and start feeding them adult grit?
    If grit is a good idea, should i have it ready for them as soon as i put them in the brooder?
    Thnks:)
     
  2. redneck farmer

    redneck farmer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Having grit is good but just get chicken starter
    An feed that to them until like 3 weeks or so then switch to poultry feed
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    A lot of what we do is personal preference. There is no real right or wrong to what you do as long as you start out with some basic information.

    Chicks and chickens use grit in their gizzards to grind up food that needs to be ground up. That can be grains or vegetable matter like grass or cabbage. So it they are eating things that need to be ground up, they do need grit.

    All processed chicken feed does not need to be ground up. The way they make the different forms of chicken feed is to grind everything up to a powder and mix it really well. If it is sold like this, it is called mash. Often they wet it with water, extrude it through a die, and quickly dry it. These are called pellets. Sometimes they crush the pellets some to make crumbles. It’s all the same stuff and has already been ground. Chicks and chickens can eat any of these and not need grit.

    The reason they make all these different forms is for automatic feeding systems. Different feeding machinery works better with mash that crumbles or maybe pellets. Another reason chick feed like Starter or Grower comes in mash or crumbles is that the little bitty chicks can’t handle the larger pellets.

    I give mine sandy dirt about their day 2nd or 3rd in the brooder so they can use that as grit. That’s just personal preference. As long as you don’t feed them treats they don’t need grit.

    I don’t have a clue when to switch from chick grit to regular grit. Mine range on the ground when they come out of the brooder so they find their own grit in the ground when they are scratching and dust bathing.

    Forgot to mention, the reason I wait until day 2 or 3 is so they can get used to eating their regular food. If you limit how much you give them, that is not really necessary.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013
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  4. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

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    Sounds like Ridgerunner gave you some great advice. Good luck to you!
     
  5. kadota48

    kadota48 Out Of The Brooder

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    Then that leads to another question...
    When you say you put sand, do you mean dirt from out side?
    And when you put it in their brooder, do yu put it everywhere or in one spot like in a pile?
    Im afraid if i put in a pile, they'll eat more of that then their actual feed.
    One more question... Do chicks and chickens know the difference in grit and feed? I know it probably tastes different, but will they start to rely on grit instead of their feed?
     
  6. RonC

    RonC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Riderunner offered some good information. Get them started on their chick starter first so they recognize it as their food. When they start getting solid treats (other than yogurt or scambled eggs) or going outside and eating grass and bugs then offer them the chick grit. Soil will work instead of sand or grit as they will pick small pebbles out of either. Sand works well because they can dust bathe in it too. Some don't like dirt from outside because it can contain the possibility of the coccidiosis parasites. People have different thoughts on that too as to small exposure over time building immunity and if they are being fed medicated feed. Medicated feed only contains amprolium which keeps the cocci from thriving and becoming a problem. You can put either in a small pan to help contain it. Mine ate quiet a bit of it the first couple of times I placed it in the brooder so would recommend only offering a small amount at a time at first. It never hurt them though.They will not rely on it instead of food though. Mine get to free range for a time every day and still love grit when I offer it to them. I would wait till they are about a month old before switching to regular grit. Depending on their outside exposure to soil/sand they may never need to offered grit.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
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  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    RonC covered it pretty well.

    I purposely select sandy dirt from the run the adults have recently pooped in. This not only acts as grit but gets any probiotics the adults may have in the chick’s system. It also introduces any other organisms, good or bad, that the adults have in their systems. I’m particularly targeting Cocci but there are a tremendous number of organisms in their systems, good, bad, and neutral. Those chicks are going to have to face them whenever they integrate with the flock or hit the ground. I prefer them to get introduced to them when they are in the brooder where I can watch them better and control their environment. They also pick up the immunity they need easier when they are very young. All this is personal preference. Lots of other people do it differently and do very well.

    You can use a whole lot of different things for chick grit. You can buy it, sometimes at the feed store or a pet shop. Be a bit careful though. A lot of bird grit from pet stores has excess calcium in it. Growing chicks get all the calcium they need from their feed. Excess calcium can possibly harm growing chicks.

    You can go to a gravel road or driveway and get some sand and small pebbles. I’ve done that before when they are a bit older. I don’t know what size to tell you to get. I’d like to say if it is too big they won’t eat it, but I’ve found plum pits in chickens’ gizzards when I process them. They can eat some pretty big things and it doesn’t hurt them. When Mama takes them out to forage, they are exposed to all sizes of pebbles for grit. They don’t choke on what they eat. A grown chicken will use bits of rock up to the size of a pea for grit. Chicks use smaller bits. If you wish pick out anything that makes you uncomfortable but I don’t worry about it too much.

    You can use coarse sand, like construction sand. Play sand is really fine and will go right on through their system. They’ll get a little good out of it but not much.

    Some people cut a square of turf and put that in the brooder. They’ll get grit from the dirt, enjoy scratching that apart and get grass and roots to eat.

    You can collect sand or small gravel in a streambed. A lot of times you can find a sandbar.

    How long does grit last them? It depends on the size of the piece and what material it is made from. A pea sized piece of granite might last a grown chicken a month. Granite is exceptionally hard. A smaller or softer rock might be gone in a few days.

    Remember if all they ever eat is chicken feed, they don’t need grit. If you put them on the ground, they will find their own.

    I they are in a brooder, you control how much they eat. Just don’t give them a lot. I like to provide it on the side in a small yogurt cup wired to the side of the brooder. Some people scatter a bit in their feed. As long as you don’t overdo it, I don’t see anything wrong with either of those methods. It’s not an exact science where you have to measure out a specific amount and carefully see that each chick gets its ration.
     
  8. bbrandenburg10

    bbrandenburg10 New Egg

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    I was just going to ask the same questions! Thank you for all the advice everyone!
     
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  9. Chickpea M

    Chickpea M Out Of The Brooder

    Ridgerunner, would doing this be ok for 2 week old chicks just for them to enjoy? My chicks are on medicated feed and have not had any treats yet. Thanks in advance!
     
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I have not done that myself but I would not hesitate to do it. There are people on this forum that I trust that say they have done that.
     

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