How do I get my chickiebabies to eat bugs?!


In the Brooder
8 Years
Jan 12, 2012
Northern Indiana
My babies are almost six weeks old now and have been going outside on all our nice days. My worry is that they don't eat enough bugs and almost seem to be afraid of them. I know if they had a mama hen they would see her eat them and then eat them themselves. I'm no mama hen and not about to start eating bugs to teach them
! There was once a big ant walking in the brooder and the poor babies were deathly afraid of it and huddling in a corner.

So, my question is, do they just naturally grow into eating bugs? Will the instinct kick in when they're big enough to be out in the coop 24/7?
When I clean the brooder I put our chicks into a plastic tub. The other day I spied a cricket under the brooder so I tossed it into the tub with them to see what would happen. They quickly mauled it to death but didn't eat it. I figure they'll naturally catch on once they're outside more and more (for reference our chicks are about 4/5 weeks old).
i'm pretty sure it just comes naturally. my two different broods of chicks haven't had anybody "teach" them about bugs - they just know. what i'm dismayed about is that it carries over to frogs. i've had a really nice frog crop this year & those guys tear into them.
My chicks (who are now out of the brooder and in the back yard coop/run, hooray!) were quick on the uptake with mealworms, but not so much with bugs initially.

About a week or two before we moved them out, I happened to spot a big, round brown beetle, which I caught and put in a shallow bowl in the brooder. They were absolutely terrified of it for about 15 minutes, after which one of them got curious. Once she figured out it wasn't a danger to her, the pecking and chasing ensued. Now that they're outside (where bugs happen a LOT more often), I've started spotting them going after beetles on the ground, and scratching around for stuff. Earthworms, too, are particularly unsafe.

So yeah, it may take a little bit of time for them to catch on, but they'll get it! It seems like chickens might have individual tastes and preferences -- you might have one who's a big fan of a particular treat or insect -- but once they're out there for a bit I'm pretty sure they'll figure things out.
My sultan Itsy caught one yesterday and ate it and she's around 6 weeks old but she's always liked catching bugs but some of my older ones don't seem to have any interest in bugs I guess it just depends on the bird
Some of my chickies like mealworms, some don't. Others earthworms others dont but flies are a popular favorite! Its a 50-50 on the flies the poop that attracts the flies is bad but the flies are fun!
My chicks loved aphids when they were tiny little things. My lupine plant was infested and I'd put a little plastic plate under the plant and just shake the aphids down onto the plate and put it in the chick's brooder and they'd go nuts. Now perhaps I had "conditioned" them a bit in advance, because every time I gave them a treat (oatmeal ground up pretty fine with a mortar and pestle was an early favorite) I'd call them with by saying "treat, treat, treat" in a high pitched voice,so that may have helped. I have noted, however, that while as adults, they run like mad towards the fence if I approach with an grasshopper, they still have no interest in ants, and know to leave stink-bugs alone, so perhaps there are some types of bugs that are tastier than others.

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