Needing to know more about dietary needs and when they change, please.

newbie donna

In the Brooder
9 Years
May 18, 2010
SW Missouri
Before I got my babies, I read that giving them sugar in their water would provide them more energy and make them stronger. The ratio I was given was 1/2 cup of sugar to 1 gallon of water. I'm wondering if this is a life long thing or if it was only intended for the first few weeks. All of my chicks are *very* energetic and seem healthy.

I'm also confused about grit. It seems I have read some information that either contradicts itself or, I've read it completely wrong. As I have understood it, grit is stored in the gizzard. It isn't digested at all. I understand the importance of grit as it acts as their "teeth" but the quantity is what I'm confused about. In one article, I read that birds will die without it and the grit should be offered freely. In another, it stated too much grit can cause impaction of the gizzard and the bird will die. I've been using parakeet grit since my chicks are so young with a hatch date of May 25, 2010.

My chicks are on medicated crumbles and they do spend the day outside in a protected, grassy area. Heaven only knows what bugs and things they get into. I give them a Sunday treet of tuna, which they love.

Oh! One other thing! Is pasting a lifelong thing with chickens or, will there come a day when I don't have to catch each one and clean their little hindends?

Please enlighten me!

Thanks in advance,
I don't put sugar in my chicks' water, or my chickens' water, because I'd be concerned about bacterial growth. If you do this, you might want to wash out your waterers daily with soap and water to make sure they aren't building up a heavy bacterial load. That's also a good idea whenever you see poo land in the waterers, too. Sugar and poo are both food for bacteria.

I second the warning of the previous poster about parakeet grit. I've never seen commercial parakeet grit that doesn't have calcium in it. Be careful with that.

A lot of the seemingly contradictary advice you read about grit may be due to the fact that different birds have different requirements. Most species of parrots (like budgies) hull seeds with their beaks and lips, so grit is either not needed or not essential. But for birds that swallow food whole, like chickens and seed eating doves, grit is necessary. I've never heard of a chicken with a grit impacted crop, either.
To answer your questions on how I've done it:

1. I didn't use sugar water and my chicks were fine. I think you can stop.

2. You don't need grit if all you're feeding them is chick crumbles. If you give them other food, then supply chick grit. Don't give grit that has calcium or oyster shell in it.

3. I had one chick with pasty butt and she grew out of it. My guess is if you're feeding medicated chick feed, it should stop it soon. Just keep checking those chick butts and wiping them. Be sure they have plenty of water.

Good luck!
Thank you all very much for your answers!

I will stop the parakeet grit immediately. Is chick grit a brand name or just the generic name that I need to ask for at the feed store?

I will also stop with the sugar in the water. You picked up exactly why I wanted to discontinue it! I was worried about bacterial contamination especially since they are spending so much time outdoors! I'm unable to monitor their water as frequently as I was.

Again, thank you so much for your help! My chicks wouldn't be here today if it weren't for all the help I get here!

Donna --

I've heard sand works, but I've always used grit formulated for chicks. If your chicks are outdoors, they may find their own grit, depending on their soil. Basically, it's crushed granite that's small enough for chicks to eat. If you're not sure they're able to pick up grit outside, go to the feed store and ask for grit for small chicks or chick grit. They'll be able to tell you if they have it or can get it.

Good luck! They sound like they're doing fine!
Following the regimen suggested in the book "City Chicks" by Patricia Foreman (more or less), I gave mine just chick starter and hard boiled egg with finely ground flax and sesame seed for the first couple weeks. Now, at 3 weeks, they get all the chick starter they want, plus the egg in the morning, and chopped veggies or fruit (whatever we have in the kitchen- so far, they have had lettuce greens, cabbage, strawberries). When I started adding the veggies and fruit, I put a dish of sand in the brooder. They eat it, they roll around in it, they love it. They are growing like weeds and can easily fly up to the top of the brooder now. What I've read is what others have said, if they are eating chick starter and egg, they don't need grit. If they are getting more, they do. But if yours are outside a lot (mine are not yet), they are probably finding all the grit like stuff they need there. As long as they seem healthy and happy and are growing, I'd keep doing what you are doing now.
regarding grit~ I have been putting a clump of dirt with grass (dandelions, clover, etc) into the brooder with my 6. they get plenty of grit out of the somewhat sandy soil, get loads of still-living fresh greens, and have hours of entertainment from scratching and finding the odd bug. Seems to be taking the place of grit, adequately, and is a healthy activity, encouraging their natural instincts to scratch and peck.
Just a very cheap (or cheep) thrill.

Bright Blessings
Sugar is given the first couple of days to give the chicks a pep to their step after just hatching or shipping, hatching takes a lot out of chicks. It's also given to those not thriving. You can give electrolytes from TSC instead of sugar also. I'm not sure of the diluted amount...

I have used the bird grit, the one from Walmart right? It works fine for young ones. If you see their crops getting hard then you need to check if they're eating it or if its not enough. I just leave a small dish of grit for my birds.

I'm guessing you're fighting with pastybutt, HATE IT. I would check you temperature and if that's fine, some chicks just get clogged, just keep cleaning it off, once they get feathered it's not as bad.

Spend as much time with your girls now as you can now, it'll pay off when they're grown!

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