Grass and dirt intro?


Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Nov 12, 2017
Western Ohio
Baby chicks are 6 days old. They are eating and drinking well, and looking healthy. They are eating Purina Chick Start and Grow - medicated feed. Poops are typical (well, I'm a novice at this but poops are uniform across all the chicks without any distinct variation). They have had chick grit (granite) introduced a couple of days ago. They have been moved to pine shavings a couple of days ago, and they are receiving heat via a heat plate for brooding chicks.

I have seen it mentioned that it is good to introduce soil/ grass to the chicks in the first two weeks - get them used to their native flora (and microbes), and for entertainment. In my area, it is apparently common to have coccidiosis in the soil, and I have heard from those that raise chickens here that they use medicated all the way up to point of lay, then switch feeds. This is because coccidiosis is common and the chickens can get acclimated to the microbes without dying due to their first exposure. Previous owners did not have chickens, but they did have two dogs in the area that we will use as the chicken run.

So, should I start to introduce dirt and grass to the chicks now? Are they at risk of coccidiosis while eating medicated feed? It is too cold to take them outside right now, so I will be digging a plug up and giving it to them in the brooder.

Thx for any advice!
Boy, I sure did it, every batch, every time, and never regretted it!! They love it, and it gives them something to do besides pecking at each other. They get little bits of grit from the dirt, they are exposed to whatever microbes and fungi are present in the ground they'll be moving to, they nibbled on bits of roots and they scratched in it and pecked at it, then when they had it broken down they dust bathed in the dirt. They already have cocci living in their systems. Coccidiosis happens when those little boogers suddenly start to multiply and overtake the host's ability to deal with it. Medicated food isn't a guarantee anyway, although those who use it swear by it and that's fine too. If Mom was raising them their first meal outside the run exploring with her is likely to be chicken poop, dirt, bits of grass and weeds, and all of that kick starts their immune system.

Others will doggone sure disagree with me, but if Coccidiosis is going to happen, it's going to happen. Medicated feed is formulated to help protect, and from what I've read it does a fine job of it. I never used it, but that was my choice since my chicks didn't get chick starter anyway. My whole mixed flock of roosters, chicks of various ages, layers and freeloaders got either All Flock or Grower, depending on what the closest feed store to me had. I crushed it up a bit for the tiny ones, but I knew raising them all together that there was simply no way to keep them out of each other's food containers anyway so why bother? I provided oyster shell in a separate container for the layers and everyone did great!

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