Is backyard dirt acceptable as temporary grit?

SomeChickinTN

Songster
Nov 19, 2018
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I'm sorry if I'm posting too much.... I put hours of research into these chickens before I got them, and then when they were in the mail, I still worried that I was getting in over my head. I wish I had grown up having them... Anyway, one of the chicks that almost died in shipping has pasty butt almost every day. I've been cleaning him every time, but I read that they can have cornmeal or ground up oatmeal to help with pasty butt....

So I gave them some cornmeal, and they ate it like it was the last thing on Earth. But then they are supposed to have grit when eating anything other than feed? Crap. I don't have any. And there is sand in the yard leftover from the house being built, but idk if it's the right kind. So I had my son go get some dirt out of the yard. Now I'm wondering if I just introduced them to bacteria.

Yes, I think I think too much. If the feed store doesn't close before 6, I'm going to go buy some grit and corid and medicated feed....Is dirt ok, especially if it's rocky, or was that just pointless?
 

duluthralphie

Dux eradication specialist
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Bacteria will not kill them.....Sand will not kill them...Relax.. Enjoy.

You may want to move the heat source a tad further from them. Pasty butt is many times the result of being too warm. Let them get a chance to cool off. Backyard dirt is healthy for them. They will pick the size of stones then need for grit and it will introduce them to any pathogens you might have in your area. They need to develop antibodies sometime, so today is the perfect day for that.
 

aart

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Yes, I think I think too much.
Easy to do...
....thinking too much is one thing....doing too much can be detrimental.
They may not really don't need corid or corn meal or anything but good chick starter and clean plain water. Pick up the corid and chick grit, but hold off giving any.

Get the heat right first.
Here's my notes on chick heat, hope something in there might help:

They need to be pretty warm(~85-90F on the brooder floor right under the lamp and 10-20 degrees cooler at the other end of brooder) for the first day or two, especially if they have been shipped, until they get to eating, drinking and moving around well. But after that it's best to keep them as cool as possible for optimal feather growth and quicker acclimation to outside temps. A lot of chick illnesses are attributed to too warm of a brooder. I do think it's a good idea to use a thermometer on the floor of the brooder to check the temps, especially when new at brooding, later I still use it but more out of curiosity than need.

The best indicator of heat levels is to watch their behavior:
-If they are huddled/piled up right under the lamp and cheeping very loudly, they are too cold.
-If they are spread out on the absolute edges of the brooder as far from the lamp as possible, panting and/or cheeping very loudly, they are too hot.
-If they sleep around the edge of the lamp calmly just next to each other and spend time running all around the brooder they are juuuust right!

The lamp is best at one end of the brooder with food/water at the other cooler end of the brooder, so they can get away from the heat or be under it as needed. Wattage of 'heat' bulb depends on size of brooder and ambient temperature of room brooder is in. Regular incandescent bulbs can be used, you might not need a 'heat bulb'. If you do use a heat bulb make sure it's specifically for poultry, some heat bulbs for food have teflon coatings that can kill birds. You can get red colored incandescent bulbs at a reptile supply source. A dimmer extension cord is an excellent way to adjust the output of the bulb to change the heat without changing the height of the lamp.
 
Jul 24, 2018
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I'm sorry if I'm posting too much.... I put hours of research into these chickens before I got them, and then when they were in the mail, I still worried that I was getting in over my head. I wish I had grown up having them... Anyway, one of the chicks that almost died in shipping has pasty butt almost every day. I've been cleaning him every time, but I read that they can have cornmeal or ground up oatmeal to help with pasty butt....

So I gave them some cornmeal, and they ate it like it was the last thing on Earth. But then they are supposed to have grit when eating anything other than feed? Crap. I don't have any. And there is sand in the yard leftover from the house being built, but idk if it's the right kind. So I had my son go get some dirt out of the yard. Now I'm wondering if I just introduced them to bacteria.

Yes, I think I think too much. If the feed store doesn't close before 6, I'm going to go buy some grit and corid and medicated feed....Is dirt ok, especially if it's rocky, or was that just pointless?
For the pasty butt, feeding your chicks oatmeal helps prevent it, along with giving them a health boost. Sand shouldn't be used as grit as it can cause impacted crops, but dirt works perfect, actually. It's good to introduce them to the bacteria, but if you see signs of cocci then I would pull out the corid. Feeding your chicks some chopped oregano will help A BUNCH as it is a natural antibiotic. Hope this helps :)
 

SomeChickinTN

Songster
Nov 19, 2018
307
496
156
E TN
Easy to do...
....thinking too much is one thing....doing too much can be detrimental.
They may not really don't need corid or corn meal or anything but good chick starter and clean plain water. Pick up the corid and chick grit, but hold off giving any.

Get the heat right first.
Here's my notes on chick heat, hope something in there might help:

They need to be pretty warm(~85-90F on the brooder floor right under the lamp and 10-20 degrees cooler at the other end of brooder) for the first day or two, especially if they have been shipped, until they get to eating, drinking and moving around well. But after that it's best to keep them as cool as possible for optimal feather growth and quicker acclimation to outside temps. A lot of chick illnesses are attributed to too warm of a brooder. I do think it's a good idea to use a thermometer on the floor of the brooder to check the temps, especially when new at brooding, later I still use it but more out of curiosity than need.

The best indicator of heat levels is to watch their behavior:
-If they are huddled/piled up right under the lamp and cheeping very loudly, they are too cold.
-If they are spread out on the absolute edges of the brooder as far from the lamp as possible, panting and/or cheeping very loudly, they are too hot.
-If they sleep around the edge of the lamp calmly just next to each other and spend time running all around the brooder they are juuuust right!

The lamp is best at one end of the brooder with food/water at the other cooler end of the brooder, so they can get away from the heat or be under it as needed. Wattage of 'heat' bulb depends on size of brooder and ambient temperature of room brooder is in. Regular incandescent bulbs can be used, you might not need a 'heat bulb'. If you do use a heat bulb make sure it's specifically for poultry, some heat bulbs for food have teflon coatings that can kill birds. You can get red colored incandescent bulbs at a reptile supply source. A dimmer extension cord is an excellent way to adjust the output of the bulb to change the heat without changing the height of the lamp.
Thanks. They are at 80 right now and seem to be doing fine. They are running around peeping and trying to see what awesome thing one of the others has picked up. Reminds me of the birds in finding Nemo....."mine! mine!", lol... I'm surprised at how quickly they are feathering out though.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
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Nov 27, 2012
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They are at 80 right now and seem to be doing fine. They are running around peeping and trying to see what awesome thing one of the others has picked up.
That's good, as long as they are active, eating, drinking, and resting near the heat when they need it.
How old are these chicks?...pasty butt should clear up by day 2-3.....it's just tiny new digestive systems getting going, if a chick was 'sick' or stressed it may take an additional day or two.
 

SomeChickinTN

Songster
Nov 19, 2018
307
496
156
E TN
That's good, as long as they are active, eating, drinking, and resting near the heat when they need it.
How old are these chicks?...pasty butt should clear up by day 2-3.....it's just tiny new digestive systems getting going, if a chick was 'sick' or stressed it may take an additional day or two.

They are a week old today. The one that has had it the most was one of the ones that almost didn't make it, so I've been wondering if he is still recovering. But also, I had been having trouble keeping the lamp in one spot. It ended up either way too hot, or too cold, and that was when I got fed up with it and started looking into other heat sources. For now I'm still using the heat lamp (75w), but it's been at a mostly steady 80 since last night, and no pasty butt today.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
96,744
130,759
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
It ended up either way too hot, or too cold, and that was when I got fed up with it and started looking into other heat sources. For now I'm still using the heat lamp (75w), but it's been at a mostly steady 80 since last night, and no pasty butt today.
That's where the dimmer extension cord comes in really handy...you adjust the heat output with that instead of trying to move the lamp.
An infrared temp gauge is great for testing temps at floor of brooder, they can't poop on it :lol: plus it's great fun having them chase the laser dot, tho it can make it hard to get a reading.
 

duluthralphie

Dux eradication specialist
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Jul 11, 2014
38,720
99,450
1,437
Orrock township, Minnesota
For the pasty butt, feeding your chicks oatmeal helps prevent it, along with giving them a health boost. Sand shouldn't be used as grit as it can cause impacted crops, but dirt works perfect, actually. It's good to introduce them to the bacteria, but if you see signs of cocci then I would pull out the corid. Feeding your chicks some chopped oregano will help A BUNCH as it is a natural antibiotic. Hope this helps :)
Sorry, but I have disagree on the sand and oatmeal. I have used sand since nearly the beginning of time... yep i’M that old. Oatmeal is not needed and a tad low in protein for a young chick.
 

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