My chickens are eating shavings?

5000_dollarfoundingfather

In the Brooder
Jun 5, 2020
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36
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Hello all!
Every night two or three of my four chickens try to sleep on their food container. I always move them off that and onto a platform I cover with shavings so they do not poop into their feeder hanging under them and so I can easily access their food and fill their feeder. However, every time I move them onto the shaving-covered platform, they begin to eat the shavings. I have a small light on when I go out at night, and they only do it when the light is on. They never do it during the day or when the light is off. Do any of you know why they might be doing this? Is it potentially harmful (I hope not!)? They have been doing this for a while now (probably a few months). They are consuming pine shavings right now, but the bag of shavings we had before was a mix of pine and several other types of trees (no cedar though). I have attached an Instagram link to the videos of the chickens eating the shavings. Thank you!

~5000_dollarfoundingfather

http://instagr.am/p/CIKCTeTJ-qE/
 
Last edited:

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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Yes, I believe I know why chicks do this after observing my own chicks on bedding of pine shavings and, at other times, sand bedding.

While it is true that baby chicks can do without grit as long as they are given only finely ground up feed, they all still have the instinct to consume grit as soon as they can leave the nest and wander about. This is one of the things a broody hen will show them - how to select and pick up grit to outfit their new little gizzards.

In absence of grit or sand, chicks may be driven by instinct to eat shavings. Because they are there. And grit is not. The solution is to brood your chicks on sand or provide chick grit if they are on shavings.

When people install their new chicks in a brooder of sand bedding, they often get very nervous when they see their chicks eating the sand. I've watched my chicks do this very thing. However, after the chicks consume enough grit to kit out their gizzards, they lose interest in eating sand or chick grit, which is close to the same thing.

The good thing about offering new baby chicks grit, even though they don't really require it, is that their digestion is much more efficient, pasty butt is less likely to be a problem, and if somehow a toddler or an ignorant relative sneaks a cookie or a few kernels of corn into the brooder, it's not going to result in sick or dead chicks.

As long as you make absolutely certain your chicks have a source of clean fresh water at all times and are able to access it, any over consumption of shavings or grit or sand will not be a problem as the water will flush out the excess.
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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If you post your video to You Tube first, then copy the UL and paste it here, it will automatically embed and we can view the video here. Some may not be able to access the video on Instagram.
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
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Can't access instagram. Posting some photos of your coop would be helpful to see if improvements can be made.

It's normal for them to eat a little bit of shavings or dirt. As long as they have access to adequately sized grit they shouldn't have any issues.
 

5000_dollarfoundingfather

In the Brooder
Jun 5, 2020
35
36
44
Yes, I believe I know why chicks do this after observing my own chicks on bedding of pine shavings and, at other times, sand bedding.

While it is true that baby chicks can do without grit as long as they are given only finely ground up feed, they all still have the instinct to consume grit as soon as they can leave the nest and wander about. This is one of the things a broody hen will show them - how to select and pick up grit to outfit their new little gizzards.

In absence of grit or sand, chicks may be driven by instinct to eat shavings. Because they are there. And grit is not. The solution is to brood your chicks on sand or provide chick grit if they are on shavings.

When people install their new chicks in a brooder of sand bedding, they often get very nervous when they see their chicks eating the sand. I've watched my chicks do this very thing. However, after the chicks consume enough grit to kit out their gizzards, they lose interest in eating sand or chick grit, which is close to the same thing.

The good thing about offering new baby chicks grit, even though they don't really require it, is that their digestion is much more efficient, pasty butt is less likely to be a problem, and if somehow a toddler or an ignorant relative sneaks a cookie or a few kernels of corn into the brooder, it's not going to result in sick or dead chicks.

As long as you make absolutely certain your chicks have a source of clean fresh water at all times and are able to access it, any over consumption of shavings or grit or sand will not be a problem as the water will flush out the excess.

I have a bag of chick grit. Should I add the grit to the shavings, or replace the shavings with grit altogether? Thanks so much for your help 😊
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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Colorado Rockies
Clear the shavings from one end of the brooder so the floor is exposed. No need to get rid of all the shavings. Sprinkle the grit on the floor of the brooder. The chicks will be more likely to pick up the grit when offered in this manner. It also enables them to eat what they need and no more. Mixing it into food is not something I recommend. They will love hunting and scratching for it.
 

5000_dollarfoundingfather

In the Brooder
Jun 5, 2020
35
36
44
Clear the shavings from one end of the brooder so the floor is exposed. No need to get rid of all the shavings. Sprinkle the grit on the floor of the brooder. The chicks will be more likely to pick up the grit when offered in this manner. It also enables them to eat what they need and no more. Mixing it into food is not something I recommend. They will love hunting and scratching for it.

I'll do that! Thank you so much!
 

5000_dollarfoundingfather

In the Brooder
Jun 5, 2020
35
36
44
Hey everyone! I got the information I needed, so I made my Instagram account private again! The link I posted won't work anymore. Thanks so much for all your help!
 

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