when can chicks eat yard greens?

urban_homesteaderApril 4, 2009

Hello,

I'm interested to know when chicks are able to have yard greens (weeds, grass clippings, etc). And leftover people scraps as well. How old do they need to be on average before introducing these? I am currently only feeding them organic starter feed. They are 7 days old today.

Thanks for your help!

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fancifowl(5Pa)

I always use a medicated chick starter feed until they are feathyered out. A bit of greens is good for them but must be in small pieces or large leaves they can pick at and get small pieces. I wouldnt allow them any other feed stuffs until they are older. lots of people break all the rules and still manage to keep poultry alive. But, just read all the problems they do have!! Every poultry forum is loaded with problems due to old farm tales and experimental care.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 4:29PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

A good rule of thumb for all animals is to start feeding them the food in question when they start showing a lot of interest in the food in question. Start them off slowly, and build up. Also watch out for what might have been sprayed on the yard or food first.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 8:28PM
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posy_pet(z6Mo.)

We are all organic and I have put my chicks on grass in 2-3 weeks.I give them time in a broody cage to bond with their mama hen before they go in a bottomless cage.It gets moved every week or so.I give the hen clover and chickweed in the cage and I assume the chicks eat some too along with their starter-grower.Some plants are poisonous for chickens.Posy Pet

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 10:42PM
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jenica(7B)

I always let my chicks have access to grass right away. I order chicks in the summer when it's warm so I don't have to worry about too much supplemental heat. I keep them in a brooder that has wheels and a detachable bottom. At night they are wheeled up to the front porch and get a blanket thrown over the brooder in addition to their heat lamp. During the day they are wheeled out to the grass (once the dew has all dried and the day has gotten hot) and the bottom is removed. They always have access to their chick starter and plenty of water but they scratch and eat bugs and grass all day. At night I always put grass clippings and other things for them to peck at in the brooder with them because I found it keeps them from pecking at each other out of boredom. During the first couple weeks they have their heat lamp on them during the day too. Maybe I've been lucky but I haven't had any problems doing it this way. Also, I think it encourages foraging because they learn at an early age all the different things they can eat. Another benefit is that the big chickens (they're free range) come up and visit several times a day and check them out from outside the brooder box. By the time the chicks are feathered out the big chickens are used to them and I was able to put them with the big chickens pretty early.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 12:33PM
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nhsuzanne(z5 SW-NH)

Jenica,

I would love to see a photo of your brooder box! Can you post one?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 10:05AM
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jenica(7B)

I would post a pic but I haven't been able to figure out how to do that on this site. I can describe it a little better though. The frame is made of two by fours and is two rectangles connected with uprights at the corners. It is 3 feet wide by 4 feet long by 3 feet tall and it works for about 25 chicks. The top is plywood and is hinged on one side so I can open it up to put food and water in. The bottom is also plywood and it connects to the box with 4 hinged latches (the ones that have have a rectangular piece with a slit in the middle that flips over a D shaped projection on the other side, hopefully you'll know what I mean) one at each corner. I use dog leash clips through the D on the latches to lock the bottom on. I bolted my nephew's training wheels to one end of the box and put long handles on the other end (like a wheel barrow). The sides are chicken wire but if I had to do it again I would make them hardware cloth because when they're really little they can stick their heads through. I also have an old wooden broomstick that I set up as a roosting pole in there. They start using it pretty quickly and it keeps them cleaner because they aren't sleeping in their poop.

When I put the chicks on the grass I take out their food and water so it doesn't spill and roll the box off the porch onto the grass. I unlatch the bottom and then very carefully roll the box forward off the bottom. I have to watch to make sure I don't pinch any toes. The wheels lift one side of the box off the ground a little bit so I put a piece of wood on that side to keep the chicks from escaping. Then I put the water and food back and I take the bottom and hose it off so it's clean for that night. When they are about 4 weeks I usually have to move the box a couple times or the grass gets too trampled.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 5:17PM
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posy_pet(z6Mo.)

My cage is similar but has two hinged doors on top and no bottom but I use a broody hen rather than a heat lamp.I stapled plastic on top to protect them from rain and on the sides to keep them warm.Before I did the rain about drowned them.It is also mostly in the shade.I move it every 4-5 days.I saw some that someone had made with no shade or much protection and he said he almost lost his chicks to drowning.His were from hardware cloth.I worry about a snake or something getting in but so far haven't had any predator problems.Posy Pet

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 7:42PM
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