Questions about chick behavior

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by SusanD, Feb 27, 2015.

  1. SusanD

    SusanD Chirping

    My chicks (around two weeks old) seem to spend a lot of time preening, especially around their wings. They seem bright eyed and healthy otherwise, and I have not seen any parasites. Does this sound normal, or could it be an indication of a problem.

    My other question is about the shavings we are using. The chicks peck at them as well as at their food. If they have eaten them (I'm not sure), it doesn't seen to have done them any harm. Should I be concerned that they might be too little for shavings, or does the setup seem ok?


  2. Clearly

    Clearly Chirping

    Feb 18, 2015
    Seattle Suburb
    Sounds totally normal to me. In a brooder, there isn't much to do. Plus you have new feathers coming in, and chickens are notoriously diligent when it comes to making sure their feathers are in order and well slicked with the oils from the uropygial gland.

    Shavings seem to be a debate, I've noticed. I personally have always used white shavings and, with regular cleaning, I've never had a problem.

    I think things are just fine. :)

    Edit: wanted to add, however, that I am far from an expert in comparison to most here. Just my own experience and assumptions based on something I said with my very first chicks: "growing your first feathers must be very odd and uncomfortable work". Perhaps the true experts here may weigh in with conflicting views.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  3. danver

    danver In the Brooder

    Jan 14, 2013
    Centerton AR
    Preening is a constant behavior they will never out grow both because they are constantly regrowing, repairing and maintaining their condition and emotionally it is a huge part of a birds' life - both receiving grooming and self grooming. Plus releasing the feather helps to subside the "itch"... Eating their own or other brood mates feather is a concern that needs to be addressed - typically protien is needed. I use sand in the brooders. If it getts too warm they will sometime pick at one another too. Follow a good heat decrease cycle until they a fully feathered.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    A whole lot of people on this forum, probably a pretty big majority, use wood shavings in the brooder without any problems. Relax, you are not doing anything wrong.

    If you are concerned about it you can give them something to use as grit so their gizzard can grind up anything they eat. You should be able to buy chick grit at the feed store. Don’t get regular grit, get chick grit because of the size. You can give them some coarse sand for them to use as grit. Don’t use sugar sand, the particles aren’t big enough to do any good. You could give them dirt from your yard, they should find little bits of gravel in that. I like to give mine something for grit just so their gizzard is ready to work if it is needed, but a whole lot of people don’t and they do fine.
  5. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Yes, I agree with the others. Your chicks are fine.

    Chicks are curious and picking at the shavings is normal behavior. They love to have something to scratch in and peck at, and if you can provide interesting things in the litter to "find", like shiny marbles, or apple slices, they'll be all the more content.

    I like to provide a small tub of sand for the chicks to "dirt bathe" in. It also doubles as grit. There's nothing so cute as chicks dirt bathing, getting those little feet whirling with the wing action.
  6. Two week old chicks are like teenagers. In other words chickens are vain. The preening actions are normal.

    As others besides myself have pointed out, there is no problem with keeping chicks on wood shavings and that chicks peck or pick at everything in their environment as their way of learning about their surroundings. If there were a problem with shavings I think that commercial chicken farmers would have abandoned shaving as litter long, long ago.
  7. SusanD

    SusanD Chirping

    Thanks all for your replies. I agree that I was fussing unnecessarily, especially since the chicks appear to be doing just fine :)

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