Feeding chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Tlco, Sep 6, 2016.

  1. Tlco

    Tlco Out Of The Brooder

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    [​IMG]



    I work in a restaurant we throw away a lot of fresh spinach,kale and Romaine lettuce that is still good. Is it okay to offer these greens to these new babies? Should I chop up I feed them grow non medicated. Would they need oyster she'll to help "chew" it up?
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2016
  2. RoseMary12

    RoseMary12 Out Of The Brooder

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    How old are they? If they are pretty young, I'd wait to give it to them, but if they are at least three weeks old, start giving them grit (gravel or sand--you should be able to find it at your local feed store) and you can definitely give it to them, but probably give them a bit at a time so if they don't like it you're not wasting the greens.
     
  3. Tlco

    Tlco Out Of The Brooder

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    I would say just a few days old maybe a week..got em from TS.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    First, you have a misconception, I’m glad you asked the question so we can clear it up. Oyster shell is almost pure calcium and is fed to laying hens for egg shell production. A laying hen needs about 4% (more or less) of her diet to be calcium for proper thick egg shells. A growing chick needs about 1% (more or less) of its diet to be calcium for skeleton growth and some other uses. Most chicken feed other than Layer has about 1% calcium, all that they need. Layer has about 4%. The greens you are talking about will provide some calcium too, but that amount is fairly small. The general recommendation is that you only feed them enough treats that they can clean up in 15 to 20 minutes and the rest of their feed is the chicken feed. That way their chicken feed still provides the balance of nutrients they need for good growth, minerals, fats, fiber, protein, and other trace stuff without throwing it out of balance.

    The misconception is that oyster shell will work as grit. Chickens do not have teeth and cannot grind up their food by chewing, so they grind up food that needs grinding in their gizzard. To help with that grinding process they eat what we call grit. In the UK it’s called insoluble grit. If you buy it from the store it will be made out of granite, but if your chickens have access to the ground they will find pebbles they can use instead. Oyster shell is soluble grit, something else entirely.

    Oyster shell does not work to grind up food for two reasons. Although it seems hard it’s really pretty brittle. It very quickly breaks down to a powder, not much use for grinding food. Also, just like your digestive system the chick’s digestive system is filled with acid. That acid quickly dissolves the oyster shell so it can be used by their body. When it is dissolved in a liquid it is useless for grinding.

    One of the first thing a broody hen does with her chicks when she brings them off the nest is take them to peck at the ground. They are picking up bits of dirt to digest for minerals and bits of plant materials for other nutrients, but they are also picking up small bits of gravel to be used as grit. A broody hen does not wait for a few weeks to introduce them to grit, she starts them off with grit.

    If green stuff like grass or certain weeds are available, it doesn’t take her long before a broody hen is feeding them green stuff. She might break it up into small bits for them or they might peck and break it up for themselves. A broody hen does not wait weeks to introduce them to greens, she does that real soon after she’s introduced them to grit. They do need grit to grind up those tough greens.

    My suggestion is to chop those greens up into fairly small bits and give them a small amount. Since the leaves are not attached to roots in the ground it is harder for them to break off small pieces for them to swallow, at least until they are older. Judge the amount by how much they eat. It’s really possible they will not eat it at first, sometimes it takes them a while to try it, but eventually they will. Eventually could be days. If they don’t clean it all up within 15 to 20 minutes, don’t panic. Just reduce the amount you give them next time. There is some trial and error involved. We’re talking about a balanced diet. They can eat too much of something one day and it won’t affect their overall diet as long as they don’t overeat that treat every day.

    One reason to chop those greens up pretty small is that if they eat big chunks of greens they can get twisted up into a ball in their crop or even gizzard and cause a serious medical condition called impacted crop or impacted gizzard. That’s where the twisted ball gets big enough that it blocks the opening for the greens to leave the crop or gizzard. Grit will help a lot to prevent impacted gizzard but doesn’t do anything for an impacted crop. So before you start feeding them those greens it is important they get some insoluble grit, not oyster shell.

    Good luck! Yu are lucky to have that source of greens for them, just make sure it is a minor part of their diet.
     
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  5. peanutsqaush

    peanutsqaush Just Hatched

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    How long before I introduce the insoluable grit, my chicks are 1-5 days old now and there is no broody hen to show them. Also when would it be appropriate to introduce them to the outdoors supervised of course, they are living in my plastic swimming pool in the house until I can get the coop built.
     
  6. chickens really

    chickens really Chicken Obsessed

    If they are being fed anything other than Chick starter they need grit...Oyster shell is calcium for laying hens and should not be given to young birds..Not that they usually touch it anyways..It is fine to give a treat once in a while as they all love pecking at new things..

    Enjoy
     
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  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    A broody hen introduces them to grit as soon as they come off the nest. I agree, as long as all they eat is the commercial chicken feed they do not need grit. It’s already been ground up, even the crumbles and pellets, and falls into a powder when it gets wet. But they need grit when they eat anything other than the commercial chicken feed. You don’t have to give them grit immediately but it sure does not hurt them to give them grit any time after they hatch.

    A broody hen takes them outside to see the world when she brings them off the nest. But the first couple of days after she brings them off the nest they tend to spend a lot of time under her, keeping warm. But by the third day they are running all over, even in pretty cool weather. I’d say a good time to take them outside and let them play in grass, supervised of course, is any time after they are three days old. Watch them. If they are running around they are fine. If they huddle up they are cold. You might be surprised at how long they can go before they get cold.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2016
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  8. Dmontgomery

    Dmontgomery Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    Example:[​IMG]
    These chicks are 8 days old. Since day 2 Henrietta has had them off the nest, in the run scratching around, showing them what to eat. Today she brought them out to free range with her for a little while.
     
  9. Tlco

    Tlco Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 5, 2016
    Buffalo tx
    Hey all thank you all your input...I chopped up the greens and put some in the coop and they loved it....[​IMG] Also sprinkle some grit on the Sandy ground and they scratched and peeked at it.
     
  10. 3spoileddogs

    3spoileddogs Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 25, 2016
    My buff orpingtons chicks are 8 days old. When can i introduce , treats, chick grit and outside to my chicks.? They are already catching bugs, and scratching, and playing. They sleep well and my girls Daisy, Maisy and Miss Lazy . [​IMG]
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