1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

When to intro outside dirt?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by csaylorchickens, Mar 20, 2016.

  1. csaylorchickens

    csaylorchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    873
    40
    108
    Mar 8, 2015
    California
    My Coop
    I remember reading a few things about getting a big chunk of dirt from the outside putting it in the brooder for multiple reasons. One is the chicks get the good bacteria in their tummies and two it keeps them from picking on each other and keeping them from boredom. At what age can I put a lot of dirt in the brooder?
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    9,522
    2,456
    411
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    The window for building immunities is in the first two weeks after hatching. But the chicks benefit anytime from having dirt and grass to mess with.
     
  3. Jensownzoo

    Jensownzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,965
    290
    148
    Feb 7, 2016
    Saint Louis, MO

    Reasoning behind this?
     
  4. littlelune810

    littlelune810 Chillin' With My Peeps

    106
    4
    58
    Nov 6, 2015
    Washington State

    I started doing this with my 6 chicks when they were about a week old. They love it, especially if you get a good chunk with some worms in it.
     
  5. csaylorchickens

    csaylorchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    873
    40
    108
    Mar 8, 2015
    California
    My Coop

    A did you havery grit or small pebbles for them too
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

    27,153
    10,466
    616
    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

    18,278
    5,169
    496
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    A chick who is broody hatched is out running around in the chicken yard by the time she is 48 hours old. She is snacking on soil and chicken poop among other things. In the animal world, feces from the adults are often eaten by the youngsters to inoculate their guts with the natural flora that helps develop a strong digestive system and immunity. As Azygous said, the chick's natural immunity is strongest in the first 2 weeks, so that is the most sensible time to be working on fostering that natural immunity. If chicks are kept in an artificial brooder situation and never allowed exposure to soils and the "barnyard" stuff until they are weaned from heat, that window of opportunity is passed.
    Most soils will have grit or pebbles, unless you are in a very sandy area.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2016
  8. littlelune810

    littlelune810 Chillin' With My Peeps

    106
    4
    58
    Nov 6, 2015
    Washington State

    Yes I give them chick grit mixed in with their food and I also sprinkledbthe grit over the dirt/grass clump for them to scratch at. Really though the soil from our yard has quite a bit of small grit and sand in it already.
     
  9. Jensownzoo

    Jensownzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,965
    290
    148
    Feb 7, 2016
    Saint Louis, MO

    Sort of? The immunity that a chick has initially isn't its own, but passively transfered via the egg from the hen ("maternal antibodies"). They're much shorter-lived than mammalian ones, so these initial antibodies are pretty much undetectable by two weeks old. Increasing exposure to pathogens during this period has both good and bad consequences: Good because since the maternal antibodies will "block" most of the pathogens, only a very small number will get through to the chick's own immune system, where they can be grabbed by macrophages and taken to the B-cells to "learn" the pathogen and start the process of making its own antibodies against it. Bad because those maternal antibodies aren't replenishable, so if the challenge is too high all of them will be used up and the chick will be vulnerable to disease (there is a lag between the presentation of the antigen to the B-cell and the initial production of antibodies...roughly 5 days or so).

    And here's another wrinkle that I just learned about! The B-cells originate in an organ called the Bursa of Fabricius. When the chick hatches, these B-cells are undifferentiated...basically blank slates. While in the bursa, they undergo a process called gene conversion to produce the diversity of antibody-producing types needed to protect the chick. This can happen without the stimulation of outside pathogen presentation, but it boosts the diversity TREMENDOUSLY if these cells are exposed to external antigens. Two critical points of timing for this: you get the most diversity before the chick is 6-10 weeks old, and the bursa basically closes up shop around 6 months, sending any remaining B-cells out into the body.

    The upshot is (and returning to the original thread topic) that giving them the chunk of sod before they are 6 weeks old is a good idea immunologically. There may be special protections for doing it before 2 weeks old, but you may open them up to other things so...six of one, half-a-dozen of the other...
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. csaylorchickens

    csaylorchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    873
    40
    108
    Mar 8, 2015
    California
    My Coop

    Thanks for the great info!!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by