Questions about grit, "treats", dirt, etc.

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by hensonly, May 28, 2008.

  1. hensonly

    hensonly Songster

    May 15, 2008
    upstate NY

    I have 15 RIR (except they appear to be sex-links) pullets. The guy at Cooperative Extension said not to give them anything but chick feed until after 8 weeks, so as not to throw their diets off balance or upset their stomachs. Which makes some sense, but as I read this forum, it's obvious that many of you are putting your chicks outside almost from day one, so clearly those babies are getting food other than chick starter! I can't easily put mine outside as the brooder is too big to fit through the door and I don't have a secure place for them outside (soon, but not quite yet).

    So - can I give them fruit and vegetable trimmings (no pesticides, of course!), grass clippings, things like that? And if I do, do I need to give them grit? And if I give them grit, what kind do I use? I read about someone using parakeet grit, but I checked the ingredients and it has oyster shells - one book I read said to be careful chicks don't get too much calcium because it can damage their much is too much?! And is there anything they shouldn't have at all?

    Can I give them a pan of dirt in the brooder to dig and dust in? The brooder is a 4 ft x 4ft box, so they have a fair amount of room, but I'd like to give them more to occupy them as they get bigger. They are on non medicated feed, but get Terramycin in their water. Which brings up another question: how long should I use the antibiotic? Some sources say eight weeks, others say twelve. I know some people don't use it at all. And what about chick starter - how long do I use that before switching to a grower ration? Or do I skip right to a layer feed since I'm not raising meat birds?

    Or do I just run screaming from the room??!!!

    Aside from all this, I'm having a ball watching them grow up. Though I ordered RIRs, it seems that the majority are sex-links, which brings me to my final (for now!) question. Are the feathers they have now, at 4 weeks, the same color as their adult plumage, or are they likely to change? I ask because some are red, some are cream/tan, some are tan with red markings, some are kind of mottled red and tan or red and cream. They're very pretty, especially a couple of them, but I'd be delighted if they stayed more or less the colors they are now, because then I'll be able to tell them apart!

    Well, sorry for the LONG post, but I had lots of questions. Thank you in advance for any advice y'all can give me.
  2. Penske

    Penske Songster

    Dec 28, 2007

    I am new to this. I did not give mine anything until they were 3 weeks old except water with Avia Charge and chick starter.

    Once they were three weeks old, I gave them some plain yogurt mixed with chick starter as a treat (about 2 TBS of yogurt mixed with starter). That was the only treat for two weeks.

    Now they are 7.5 weeks old and I give them scrambled eggs (2 eggs for 13 chicks), they have had cooked broccoli, too. They also eat slugs! I sprinkled starter grit on their chick starter at 3 weeks for a few weeks and now I just leave out a bowl. they get grit from the hen run too.

    All seem healthy and happy!!

    Don't give them layer feed until they are ready to lay, or maybe just a week prior???

    Hope this helps!

  3. Kathy1

    Kathy1 Songster

    I wondered the same thing my chicks are 2 1/2 weeks and the feathers are pretty! They are RIR also, I hope someone knows the answer to your queestions, as I am interested in the repies also. What is ok to give little chicks for a treat?
  4. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    Personally, I'm one of those that doesn't give my chicks any treats until they are older (around 8 weeks or so). I just feel that they should be good and healthy and on their way to being grown before giving them treats. But, that's just me; many people do start giving treats at very young ages. I do, however, let them outside to dig around in the dirt/grass so I guess you could call that treats. But, I don't give food from our house yet.

    Whenever you start to give them treats you need to make sure they have access to grit. That grit can either be store bought and sprinkled on their food or, if they have daily access to the ground they will get the grit (little pieces of gravel) from the dirt.

    You don't want to give them layer pellets until they are at laying age (around 17 to 20 weeks old, depending on the breed).

    Yes, you can put a pan of dirt in their brooder -- I'm sure they'll love it.

    Many breeds go through several feather color changes before getting their true adult color. So, don't hold your breath for the colors to stay at this age but maybe... I'm not sure about those breeds.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2008
  5. Reinbeau

    Reinbeau The Teapot Underground

    I've been giving them treats now for a week and they seem just fine, as a matter of fact, they love them and look forward to them. I've given them the thinnings from my swiss chard, white millet, pigweed seedlings, broccoli stems (that was a riot, they played keep away with them), and yogurt (what a mess!). I think it helps out quite a bit with their bonding with me, they look to me as a good thing now.

    If the chicks were with their mom outside they'd be eating worms, bugs, all manner of seeds and greens. I don't think it's a bad thing at all for them. Just be careful and don't give them too much, you don't want to put them off their chick starter.
  6. 2manyhats

    2manyhats Songster

    May 18, 2008
    Central NY
    My chicks are about 8 weeks and just took their first treat. I have tried to introduce watermelon and strawberries before without interest from the chicks. Today I put out a shallow dish with some homemade plain yogurt and starter sprinkles. It took a bit, but once they tasted it, they loved it.
  7. debakadeb

    debakadeb Songster

    Apr 8, 2008
    SW Indiana
    I kept mine on chick-starter until they were 4 weeks old. I then introduced yogurt to them -- you don't need the grit with yogurt. They didn't get treats until they were 8 weeks old -- this was also when they went to the great outdoors. Now, I leave grit down for them and they have the dirt. Normally, they still get their regular food but about 3-4 times a week I take them out frozen corn and cherrios. They LOVE the corn! I put it in a special dish and sprinkle some grit over the top of it.
  8. Grindlefamily

    Grindlefamily Songster

    Mar 30, 2008
    Fairfield, ME
    I've had a pan of dirt in with mine since they were 1 week old. They love to scratch around in it, lay in it, just be silly in it! They pick at it too which is funny. They had worms and simple small treats starting at 2 weeks.

    Good luck.

  9. rooster0209

    rooster0209 Songster

    Apr 7, 2008
    North Dakota
    My chicks are a almost 5wks old. I split & covered part of the run, so they could get aquainted with the Guineas and get some fresh air. There was sweet clover and chick week growing up between the cracks of the concrete (my coop is the old hog house). They devoured both weeds. All thats left is the leafless stems.

    Its fun to watch them dig in the dirt that has accumulated over the years on the concrete. They even dig out the little ant hills and have eaten all the tiny red ants. I gave them some stale english muffin bread yesterday. that was a hoot!

    I am a novice chicken owner, but from what the neighbors do and say, its okay for them at this age.
  10. LilRalphieRoosmama

    LilRalphieRoosmama Officially Quacked

    Oct 15, 2007
    Elyria, OH
    I have BO chicks that are two weeks old now. I just started giving them some treats, but just a little - chopped clover and uncooked oatmeal. Just a little to give them something to do and they are fine. We've always used the parakeet grit without a problem. Yesterday I put a small dish of it in and two chicks went nuts and just kept eating it. I took it out so they didn't OD on it and sprinkle a little in with their feed.

    It's been a while, but I think you keep them on the medicated feed until about 30 days before they are supposed to start laying, roughly 17 weeks or so.

    Here's two pics of ours when they were probably about 6 weeks old (can't remember exactly.) I think the RIRs had some white on them when they were younger, but not much and the red color was alot darker. The one standing is the RIR:


    These are the red and black stars (sex-links):


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