When Can I Let My Chicks Scratch in the Dirt?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by birdsrfun, Aug 26, 2013.

  1. birdsrfun

    birdsrfun Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 22, 2013
    S.F Bay Area
    Hi there, total noob here. I have 2 chicks that are 3 weeks old, and they are so restless and keep flying and jumping up on the top edge of the brooder box when the lid is off. I couldn't find another thread to answer my question, so here goes.

    I want to let them out to scratch in the dirt for a short time during the day. Can they go out at this stage? They have been on straight starter food, without any grit. Won't they pick up dirt and small rocks on their own? Is there anything I need to be worried about?

    Thanks for your help.
  2. Veer67

    Veer67 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I usually let my chicks go out on the first day ( but only for a few minutes because they get chilled easily). 3 weeks old is old enough to be outside with supervision, when the chicks stop moving and start shivering I bring them inside.
  3. reckless

    reckless Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 4, 2013
    My Coop
    Hey! From my research, I've come to the conclusion that letting them scratch in the dirt is good! I never let my chicks go free-range except for my silkie rooster because he's a pet, I keep them in a pen... but if you can keep track of the two of them and don't live next to a main road like me.. and can catch them that should be fine supervised~ :p

    They love the dirt and like eating it. Silly little buggers! My chicks always took immediate interest in it.. after being startled by the big and wide world! It gets them used to the soil and the bacteria in your yard though, boosting their immune system. Some people will even take dirt from their yard in the brooder so they get used to it. I would provide grit in case they eat some grass. There's no guarantee they will find enough rocks to be grit-worthy... I would provide it just in case for now.

    I recommend also possibly getting some Apple Cider Vinegar for their water for digestive help too (as long as your waterer is plastic, not metal)- at least I would personally. :) (It's not required, but it is a good investment!)

    My chicks love cigarette butts too by the way. They always find them in the grass even when I didn't notice them. So if you have any smokers around, careful about that! I can't think of anything else... except for keep an eye on them but that I figure is assumed. :)
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2013
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Your birds are fine to go out now. If they were raised by a momma hen, they'd be scratching around from day 1.
  5. jdoane

    jdoane Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 7, 2013
    Western Massachusetts
    Take them out! It's so much fun. Mine are also 3 weeks and we've been going out for outings on any warm day. My two daughters and I just sit on the grass and make a "pen" out of our legs. The chicks run around and dig and explore. They love eating the little yellow flowers off the clover in our lawn. And a definite perk is that they have the opportunity to jump up on us if they want. We have 5 chicks and it's a little crasy preventing escapes with just 3 of us but manageable. You should be fine with 2. At first I took one out at a time and they were definitely not as happy. As soon as I started doing the outing I also made chick grit available.

    Have fun!
  6. showjumper_girl2002

    showjumper_girl2002 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 20, 2011
    I let my chicks out (under supervision) when they were 1 week old for short periods of time and gradually increased the time as they grew. it's a lot of fun to watch them! I did provide chick grit for them though when I started to let them out, just to be on the safe side. have fun watching your little chicks! it's so entertaining [​IMG]
  7. birdsrfun

    birdsrfun Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 22, 2013
    S.F Bay Area
    Thanks for all your help everyone. I am going to let them out today, and I will report back to you. It's plenty warm in the sun for them.
  8. birdsrfun

    birdsrfun Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 22, 2013
    S.F Bay Area
    Well, our two chicks went out to scratch in the dirt today. It was plenty warm enough for them. I set them down, and they didn't know what to do, at first. They followed me around like I was momma chicken. After a short while, though, they started pecking around in the dirt, then that's all they did the entire time. They were so cute. I didn't have my phone, so I couldn't leave them out there to go get it, so I didn't get any pics.

    I had to pick a lot of junk up so they wouldn't try to eat it. There is so much crap in the dirt. Anyone else have tiny little plastic balls in their dirt? I have no idea what they are, and why they are in the dirt.

    Whenever the chicks heard any loud noises, they would run back to me and huddle near me. I'm glad they will come to me like that. I couldn't see them eat any bugs, but they ate a lot of dried grass pieces, and maybe some tiny seeds.

    It was fun, and they had about 30 minutes outside. I'm going to do it every day that's warm enough for them, and I'm sure they really appreciated it, because they did a ton of pecking, a ton of stretching, and lots of hopping and flapping. Very entertaining.
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by