Is this Normal Momma/Chick Feeding Behaviour?


5 Years
Jun 4, 2014
Victoria, Australia.
Hi all

I have a Momma Hen with one chick who is now 5 days old. For the first two days Momma and chick (Peepers) stayed in their nest, but they are now venturing out into their penned-off area (approx. 6 ft x 4 ft) to feed during the day.

Momma has access to some wheat and corn up higher which Peepers can't reach, and she eats that mostly. When she starts laying again she will get Layer's feed. Peepers has (expensive) medicated chick crumb with a little scratch mixed into it in his own bowl down low.

Every morning I also take them both a small plate of mixed vegies and oats, all cut up and presented nicely. Momma's immediate reaction is to call to Peepers excitedly (usually he is underneath her!) and they both come running out of the nest.

Momma then proceeds to scratch at the plate and fling the vegie scraps all over the pen! She calls to Peepers and they both scratch about in the mess, filling their waterer and Peeper's chick crumb dish with dirt and spoiling the lot!

I have tried the 'replace feed a few times a day' method for a while but to be honest the same thing keeps happening. I worry that Peepers is never going to get something good to eat (the medicated feed) as it is flung from one corner to the pen to the next, and there is nothing left in their feed bowls at the end of all the excitement.

Is this normal feeding behaviour? When Momma was with the rest of the flock she ate in a relatively well-mannered way. What's the go with flinging the food everywhere? Will Peepers be ok?

- Krista
I would say it's ok. If the chick is eating anything other than starter feed it needs grit which they can get by eating dirt/gravel.

I have tried over and over again to give my chickens veggies/treats in dishes so they don't get dirt all over them but never fails they wont eat them unless they have flipped the dish over and the offerings are in the dirt!

The only thing that I clean out is the water if it gets really bad but I started to hang their water and rarely do I have to change it now.

Scratching and pecking is normal eating behavior for chickens.
OK, thank you!

The floor of their coop is dirt and there is some shell grit scattered about in there too. I had put a bowl of that in for Momma since she is eating cracked corn and wheat, but of course it was flung everywhere like all the other food I presented them with!

I do make sure to change out their water two or three times a day. To be honest, I think I need to be changing it every hour to keep it clean, but that's not a very convenient way to live, lol. I do have to work! And of course, I can't put in a big water container because Peepers could fall in and drown, so hopefully changing it out a few times a day is enough. I'm sure they will survive.

I had to laugh earlier today. Momma got a nice big piece of cracked corn out of her feeder, dropped it on the ground in front of Peepers and got all excited about it. She was going "Who, who, who" like my rooster does when he calls the hens for a tasty treat that he finds.

Poor little Peepers looked at this massive, hard lump of corn and wandered off. There is no way he could eat that! His Momma looked so deflated! Anyway, at least she is trying to look after him.

- Krista
When the chicks were really small I used the big container (2 gallon) and put it up on a brick that was just a bit lower than the chicks head when standing up (to help keep the water clean), put a bunch of marbles in the bottom (to prevent drowning) and it kept the water a lot cleaner. I gradually raised the water container as the chicks grew.

Momma hen would eat a bigger size grit than the baby would.

Amazing how even 4, 10 day old silkie chicks can get their water filthy when placed right on the ground.

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