how old before you can spoil them?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by cajun Rabbit, Oct 6, 2011.

  1. cajun Rabbit

    cajun Rabbit Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 18, 2011
    Hey yall,
    Still learning here and am wondering how old the chicks need to be before we can start giving them fresh scraps? Do we need to wait till they are laying?? or can we start now? I have heard that they have trouble eating and breaking down the food. I have given them some black soldier fly larva (but only the wyandotte would eat them, the RIR picked them up to run and play keep away, but didn't want to eat it).

    Also how long should we keep them on chick starter food?

    Thanks in advance

    the girls are about 5 weeks old (RIR and wyandotte)
  2. WestKnollAmy

    WestKnollAmy The Crazy Chicken Lady

    Apr 22, 2008
    upstate SC
    My chicks start getting treats such as meal worms from the age of a week old. I also dig up grass, dirt and all and put in the brooder to allow them to get their crops strong and give their guts certain bacteria to help their immune system.
    I don't have enough kitchen scraps to feed my youngsters so I can't say when I would start feeding that but 5 weeks old should be fine. You want to make sure they are eating mostly their own starter food for the best nutrition. I offer bread to my youngsters once a week when I get the old stuff from the food pantry. Mostly my 3-6 week olds don't care for it since they are out on grass and get other more natural foods but there is a piggie in every bunch that may want it.
    Just make sure they have grit or dirt to strengthen the crop and help grind that food up as it moves through.

    I feed starter to my chicks up to the time they are laying and even some after that. I often mix starter and layer in my hopper and when they are laying I offer oyster shell. Some birds turn away from starter in the grow up pen and eat only layer and vice verso. Since free range birds know what they need and go after it then I figure even my tractored birds should be allowed the choice and give it to them.
  3. fiddlebanshee

    fiddlebanshee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 11, 2010
    Frederick, MD
    I also started feeding my chicks treats and scraps at about a week old, along with offering chick grit free choice. They go wild over anything green (sprouts, green parts of the fennel plant, clover from the yard, chopped up celery). they also like (predictably) mealworms and oats (raw, not cooked) but i couldn't interest them in boiled eggs. Yogurt on the other hand was a big hit. They still get 95% of their nutrition from the chick starter, and have access to fresh water with apple cider vinegar 24/7. All food and water is free choice. They are now about 2.5 weeks old and looking healthy and growing well.
  4. littlecreekfarm

    littlecreekfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 1, 2011
    I fed my chicks mealworms(OMG they go crazy for mealworms they will jump in your lap.....or even on you back) when they were about hmmmm maybe around 8 weeks old. They also like bread which you can start feeding them around 8 weeks also....just be sure to break it up in small peices [​IMG]
  5. gallusdomesticus

    gallusdomesticus Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2008
    Lynn Haven, FL
    One thing to keep in mind when you're 'spoiling' your chickens....and we all do that from time to to limit the amount of simple carbohydrates and sugars from their diet. In other words, limit bread, rice, cookies, and corn you give them. Bird's fatty acid metabolism takes place in the liver and if they're overfed high energy carbohydrates, they store the excess lipids (fat) in their liver which can lead to fatty liver syndrome, reduced egg laying and eventual death. The high levels of estrogen in laying hens compounds this build up of lipids in the liver, so be careful. I have a hen I spoiled with lots of treats and she developed fatty liver disease which I've been treating with milk thistle extract from the vet for two years. Fortunately, she's doing well but I don't give my girls bread scraps or rice and limit the sugary fruit.

    This article explains this problem in more scientific terms:
  6. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    The ducklings start to get greens at one week of age. I start them on baby chick grit a couple of days before they get their first treat.
  7. cajun Rabbit

    cajun Rabbit Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 18, 2011
    thanks, yall.
    My girls are in a tractor so they get grass greens and what they can find out there ants and bugs and seeds, we do bring them ant larve and they had some celery tops today [​IMG]

    How do yall give them grit? I bought a vial from store that is made for pet birds.... it stuck in their cage so don't know if they will use it or not.

    Oh and dust baths?? we don't have 'dust' here, just mud and clay..... should I put in a tub of dirt? what kind? ooooh there is so much to learn and I don't want our little ladies missing out [​IMG]

    Maybe I should start a new thread??

    oh and why the apple vinegar? ( I spent 50 bucks on an auto water thingy from garden hose.... did I mess up and get the wrong thing??)
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2011
  8. SteveBaz

    SteveBaz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 6, 2011
    Pacific North West
    Grit and dust bath and play area and poop area and gladiator arena and hanging out there own chick(chat)room [​IMG]

  9. Achickenwrangler#1

    Achickenwrangler#1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 7, 2011
    west virginia
    you can (and should) put a tub of dirt in there, just dig up what you have in the yard and let it dry out, make your tub big enough for several birds.(it's a communal thing! and fun to watch) You can break the dirt up somewhat, to give em the clue, and they will do the rest. You can add some sand to it and firewood ashes if you have it, but plain ole dirt is all they really need. Not only will they find their own grit from it, it will help keep their skin and feathers stay healthier...clay is fine really, as long as you keep it dry. Mine have clay, they picked the spot.
    you can always offer the the vinegar free choice, having an auto water is excellent, they'll not be thirsty, google for threads on vinegar, there are excellent ones here that will tell you all you need to know about it.
    You can give your chicks just about anything, they are old enough now, just try to stick with 'natural' things they would come across foraging and you cant go wrong...there is another very complete list of foods that are ok for chickens and those that are not (look for it in the forums)
    Its great that you are researching and using common sense..good luck to you and your birds and have fun with them, I know I am!
  10. cajun Rabbit

    cajun Rabbit Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 18, 2011
    Thanks, I will have to get them set up with some sand this weekend.

    Just need to see how I can rig it up so that it moves with the tractor.... [​IMG]

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