Grit from first day?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by TimM, Aug 9, 2013.

  1. TimM

    TimM Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi all. I just got 15 Hubbard Golden Comet day-old pullets from Mount Healthy, and they are sure healthy and happy! But I need an opinion (or more likely opinions!) on an issue that might not even be important. My little bag of chick grit says to begin making grit available at two weeks of age, and virtually every reference I've got says to always put grit in a separate free-choice container. But the hatchery's fact sheet that came with the chicks says to sprinkle some grit right on top of their food from day one to get them used to grit and 'get their digestive systems off to a good start'. I hate conflict! Thoughts?

    Tim
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    The hatchery is geared towards making sure even the least viable survive to make money. Ordinary chickens raised in semi-natural environments have the instincts to obtain grits themselves, but if a hatchery breeds chooks in concrete floored cages for generations, for example, the birds can lose all instinct about seeking grit because the behavior is never reinforced... So over a few generations it can become necessary to more or less spoonfeed it to them because they may not eat it by choice. Instinct must be reinforced naturally to continue to breed true.

    If you have hatchery stock, I would put it on food to begin with to make sure they eat it and in future learn to associate it with edible stuff. If they weren't hatchery stock there would be no issue, they'd need no help.

    I have had turkeys from a man who raised them in pens separate from the mothers, fed only crumble; I bred my hen to his tom. My hen was a proven mother who produced great chicks that I fed normally --- grain, etc.

    But all chicks hatched from eggs fertilized by his male could not recognize anything even vaguely natural as food, and so they starved for their first week. Seeds, grains, grass, grit, etc --- they would not eat, because being raised on sawdust and crumble for generations had led to them having misdirected instincts telling them only cardboard-colored stuff is food. I've never bought or fed crumble so this was a mini emergency for me; the mother of these unfortunate chicks had many clutches with other males from different places which all ate normal grain and grass feed from hatching. It goes to show how strong recently inherited instinct is, and how wrong we can breed it to be. The chicks did end up making it, but were always crappy turkeys. Not worth the effort.

    Generally all chicks eat parts of their own eggshells soon after hatching, and this supply is sufficient for their first week or so. But I don't know about artificially hatched and incubated and reared chicks, I've never done that; but it's possible they took the eggshells away quickly, before the chicks ate any --- I don't know though but best to make sure the chicks have some grit.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2013
  3. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I also get my chicks from Mount Healthy. Great Hatchery! They recommend using cracked corn as a grit for the first several days to get their digestive track going (this is stated in a fact e-mail that they send out with each order). Just add some to their chick feed. We have always had perfectly healthy chicks. We feed cracked corn to the adult flock as a treat along with standard layer pellets.

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  4. ChirpyChicks1

    ChirpyChicks1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No harm in adding it now :) Best of luck!
     
  5. TimM

    TimM Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you! That tale of genetics and food choice is fascinating!

    Tim
     
  6. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Best wishes with your flock. Some hatcheries are notorious for sub-par chicks but some seem quite good. All my hatchery experiences have been negative but some have good experiences.

    For an easy care flock, though, I don't think you can go past one that has its natural instincts working. Some people think natural instincts (as opposed to man-modified ones) make animals flightier and more aggressive but in my experience and observations across various species, this is not true; rather, we tend to breed more aggressive and fearful creatures than what occurs naturally. Also we can retain some positive modified instincts while breeding out negative natural ones, and vice versa, and we all do simply by virtue of what we choose to breed on with. Instincts are not a bulk package that can't be separated or divided.

    Anyway, hope it all goes well for you and yours.
     

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