Pecking and Leaves in the Brooder

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Falconfree, Feb 7, 2016.

  1. Falconfree

    Falconfree In the Brooder

    Dec 20, 2013
    Panama City, Fl
    Today is day two of our lovely itty bitties being home, and I have a couple questions. They peck at my rings a LOT. I don't wear a ton of them, just 2 silver bands, but they are definitely chick magnets. One of them in particular (a Dominique) goes after my hand as soon as I reach into the brooder. I'm hoping some of this lets up with age, when they realize my rings and hands aren't food, but is there something I should be doing in the meantime to discourage it? We've had ducks before, and I vaguely remember them just stopping as they grew up.

    My second question is about the litter in the brooder. Right now we have paper towels down, but planned to switch to wood shavings in a few days. My husband had the idea of maybe using leaves from our backyard instead. Would that be okay? We have a couple oak trees back there, so we have an enormous amount of leaves. I know some folks use leaves (and other organic matter) as litter in coops and runs, but I hadn't noticed it mentioned in a brooder.

    Thanks! We are having a great time with our "Chicken Disney Princesses" so far.

  2. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    Mine are on a mixture of everything I can throw in there. I brood my chicks outdoors in a pen within the run, so whatever the big girls are on, my chicks are also on. There's some leaves, some weeds and lawn and garden debris, some dry grass, twigs, straw, pine shavings - whatever I have handy. The chick pen does contain more straw than the rest of the run, though, but only because I cover their heating pad cave with it and they scratch it off all over the place. I also dig up a clump of dirt, grass and all, and throw it to them. They dig in it, scratch in it, and it helps provide a little early exposure to whatever our soil contains, which helps build up their immune systems.

    As for the rings, they'll do the same thing with nail polish, a watch...anything shiny that catches their eye. You'd think they'd outgrow it, but wise chicken owners do not walk out in the coop or run with flip-flops and polished toenails....jest sayin'! [​IMG] I didn't know ducks would outgrow it, but my chickens never have, that's for sure.

    Good luck with your chicks!!
  3. Yorkshire Coop

    Yorkshire Coop Moderator Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2014
    Yorkshire, UK
    My Coop
    The pecking at your rings and hands is normal behaivour for chicks. This is how they investigate and learn things. It's also a good way for them to become accustomed to you and not scared. I've found this a great way of taming my chicks. I like to put my hands in the brooder palm up and in the end they hop in and enjoy having a sit and scratch about.


    They have never really grown out of it either and my hens are still very friendly and enjoy lap sitting and having a peck about, generally in my hair when they are being pirate parrots on my shoulder!!

    I'm afraid I've never used leaf litter before but Blooie has left you some fab advice :D
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    What they said. Beware any freckles, scabs, moles, warts. They will be deemed edible treats. Also, always keep eyes and lips out of beak range.
  5. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    That's right, they don't outgrow the compulsion to target any blemish they might spot on your bare legs or hands. I occasionally need to be treated for skin cancers and pre-cancers, and my chickens always discover the blister or scab and even stitches, and are very efficient at "removing" them.

    And I've never found the gold stud one of my original chicks removed from my ear seven years ago.

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