Worms! How young can they eat 'em?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by JenniferC, Apr 15, 2008.

  1. JenniferC

    JenniferC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I took the itty bitty (less than 1 week old) chicks outside on Saturday. We in Seattle think it's summer when it gets to 65 degrees outside.

    Anyway, they had a blast- though only for 10 minutes or so, and one of them found a worm my 2 year old had killed a couple days before and ate it.

    So yesterday when my 2 year old was playing with worms I suggested we give them to the chicks. The same chick got the worm this time- and boy were the 2 of them excited!!!!!! They started searching the brooder frantically for more!

    Nothing bad seems to have happened so far from them eating worms, but I figured I'd make sure with you guys if it's OK. I figure if they were outside they'd be eating insects if they could find 'em, so why not.

    This is OK, right?
     
  2. Gindee77

    Gindee77 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think I'd make sure they had some grit if they're eating anything other than their chick feed. [​IMG]

    I wish it would warm up enough around here to put mine out for a while! [​IMG]
     
  3. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Because my orpingtons are a large breed and grow fast I have given mine a few meal worms at about 2 weeks. I take a dish and put some starter crumbles in it and lay the meal worms out on top and let them have at it. They love them. It is kind of morbid to watch but they are so funny when they realize it is food wiggling around. BTW, I do not consider meal worms and bugs and stuff treats.
     
  4. JenniferC

    JenniferC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Yep, they've been getting grit. Unfortunately, Saturday was a one off. It's been cold here again.

    It's weird, in Seattle 65 and 70 degrees feel really warm. 80 is unbearable here. I've tried to explain it to my family in New York, but they don't get it.
     
  5. youthpastor

    youthpastor Out Of The Brooder

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    hey, this is just my opinion, but grit is only really necessary if your feeding your chicks grains because they're hard to digest. if your giving your chicks soft things like worms, and only occasionally, the grit in their starter will be enough. grit is only a replacement for teeth. they still have digestive enxzymes that break down softer food in their stomach.
     
  6. youthpastor

    youthpastor Out Of The Brooder

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    o, btw, i've been feeding my chicks treats like worms and soft stuff since they were a week or two old, and haven't had any problems. i wouldn't over do it, but a little is fine.
     
  7. JenniferC

    JenniferC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Hmm, the feed store said I should sprinkle grit on top of their feed, so I have been. They are eating chick starter feed. The Feed store was wrong wrong wrong about bedding, so I wouldn't be surprised if they are wrong about grit as well.

    Is there any danger in them eating too much grit? One of my chicks has a big ol crop tumor looking thing.
     
  8. youthpastor

    youthpastor Out Of The Brooder

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    yeah, there's enough grit in chick starter, but not sure about the crop thing. I'd imagine they wouldn't eat more than they need. Outside they'll have access to endless supply of grit.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2008
  9. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    I know they'll get worms on their own outside, but I would not go out of my way to actually feed them earthworms on purpose and this is why:

    Gapeworms
    The gapeworm (Syngamus trachea) is a round red worm that attach to the trachea (windpipe) of birds and causes the disease referred to as "gapes". The term describes the open-mouth breathing characteristic of gapeworm-infected birds. Heavily infected birds usually emit a grunting sound because of the difficulty in breathing and many die from suffocation. The worms can easily block the trachea, so they are particularly harmful to young birds.
    The gapeworm is sometimes designated as the "red-worm"; or "forked-worm" because of its red color and because the male and female are joined in permanent copulation. They appear like the letter Y. The female is the larger of the two and is one-fourth to one inch in length. The male gapeworm may attain a length of one-fourth inch. Both sexes attach to the lining of the trachea with their mouthparts. Sufficient numbers may accumulate in the trachea to hinder air passage.

    The life cycle of the gapeworm is similar to that of the cecal worm; the parasite can be transmitted when birds eat embryonated worm eggs or earthworms containing the gapeworm larvae. The female worm lays eggs in the trachea, the eggs are coughed up, swallowed, and pass out in the droppings. Within eight to fourteen days the eggs embryonate and are infective when eaten by birds or earthworms. The earthworm, snails and slugs serve as primary intermediate hosts for the gapeworm. Gapeworms in infected earthworms remain viable for four and a half years while those in snails and slugs remain infective for one year. After being consumed by the bird, gapeworm larvae hatch in the intestine and migrate from the intestine to the trachea and lungs.

    Gapeworms infect chickens, turkeys, guinea fowl, pheasants, chukar partridge, and probably other birds. Young birds reared on soil of infected range pens are at high risk (pen-raised game birds). Some control or reduction in infection density (worms/bird) is achieved by alternating the use of range pens every other year and/or using a pen for only one brood each year. Tilling the soil in the pens at the end of the growing season helps to reduce the residual infection. Treating the soil to eliminate earthworms, snails and slugs is possible but the cost is usually prohibitive.

    Gapeworms are best prevented by administering a wormer at fifteen to thirty day intervals or including a drug at low levels continuously beginning fifteen days after birds are placed in the infected pens. One drug that is effective for eliminating gapeworms is fenbendazole, however, the Food and Drug Administration do not presently approve its use for use in birds.

    from this site: http://www.gamerooster.com/spotlight/diseases.htm
     
  10. dichotomymom

    dichotomymom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm glad you posted the info about gapeworms....about 5 days ago, I was preparing beds for the garden and dug up about 20 worms and fed them to my 25, 2 wk old chicks. They went crazy but got lathargic soon after; don't know if they were just full or if they overdid it somehow.
     

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