Best Treats for Baby Chicks
The excitement that comes with the newly hatched baby chicks is unimaginable for every chicken keeper. So, if you are one of the backyard chicken owners, you must have been overjoyed to see your flock of chickens increase within a short time.
As a matter of fact, seeing these little birds scratch the ground, move around in large numbers and run around their brooder is quite amazing and encouraging to watch them all day long. But these lovely baby chickens can only perform their usual tricks on you after they have been fed well.
The good news is that chicks are extremely easy to feed. Their diet is usually versatile, especially if it includes a few tasty treats.
Just like other types of farm animals, your chicks need a nutritionally balanced diet. They require more dense nutrient food than adult chickens.
This piece of information should tell you that when feeding them, make sure their entire feed consists of protein, vitamins, minerals, grains, and fats. Don’t forget to supply them with clean, fresh water daily as part of their diet. At the same time, include grit in their diet to assist in digestion.
With that in mind, ensure that your baby chicks’ feed provides not less than 90% of their essential nutrients. The other 10% of nutrients should be obtained from their pasture while they are free-ranging in your backyard.
Below is an elaborated list of treats that your baby chicks can enjoy.
Treats that Baby Chickens Love
Before you give your baby chicks some treats, you need to start with the basics. Here, starting with the basics means that you should provide your little birds with small quantities of your chosen treats. The treats should also be small enough or easy to tear apart for the chicks to eat without much of a struggle. Their treats must also be healthy foods such as:
– Fruits and Vegetables
Different types of fruits and vegetables serve as treats for both adult chickens and baby chicks. Most fruits used as treats for baby chicks include strawberries, bananas, apples, and watermelons.
Strawberries are easy to eat and they contain several minerals and vitamins such as copper, magnesium, iron, potassium, and vitamin B. Aside from that, strawberries are packed with lots of anti-inflammatory antioxidants to keep your chicks healthy as they grow.
Bananas, on the other hand, are part of the tasty treats for your chicks. Spotty bananas or brown bananas are the most preferred for baby chicks since they contain vitamin B6. Bananas are also a rich source of magnesium, copper, pyridoxine, and healthy carbs for your little chickens.
Apples are some of the favorite fruits that your baby chicks can enjoy eating as part of their treats. If given in small quantities, apples can supply your baby chicks with the right amount of fiber, vitamin K, potassium, and carbs. All you need to do is to chop them up and get rid of any seeds and your chicks will enjoy eating them.
Mostly, watermelons are recommended for all chickens including the baby chicks. Watermelon can be a great treat for your little birds during hot summer days because they contain a substantial amount of water to hydrate them. Make sure you remove the rind and seeds before allowing your baby chicks to feed on watermelon.
When it comes to vegetables, experts recommend lettuce, kale, cabbage, and spinach. Just like any other treat, vegetables should be washed, chopped into smaller pieces, and fed to the baby chicks. Always remember to supply your chicks with vegetables in small amounts or feed them in moderation.
– Yogurt and Cheese
Even though yogurt and cheese are dairy products, they can be included in the list of the best treats for your baby chicks. And your baby chicks will find them to be quite delicious. Both cottage cheese and yogurt are great sources of protein that help baby chicks grow normally.
In particular, Cottage cheese is considered a favorite treat for young or even older chickens. Yogurt is highly recommended because it supports your chicks’ general gut health due to its probiotics. As usual, feed them cheese and yogurt in small amounts.
– Greens and Weeds
If your baby chicks are not yet strong enough to free range, provide them with enough greens and weeds. Toss a few bits of greens such as Alfalfa hay, Alfalfa sprouts, or fodder to their backyard or coop.
Typically, these treats are super yummy for baby chicks. Alfalfa hay is rich in protein and vitamins. These nutrients play a significant role in making sure that your chicks are healthy as they get older.
– Worms and Insects
Worms and insects are no doubt the favorite treat that you can give to your baby chicks. This is because worms like mealworms and insects are high in nutrients such as protein. Plus, the wriggling nature of worms and insects draws the attention of baby chicks.
Roaches and grubs are also good examples of insects for your little birds. Another great example of an insect fit for your little chicks is cricket. Currently, research is going on about crickets being an alternative source of protein for chickens and humans alike.
This is attributed to the fact that crickets contain almost double the quantity of protein compared to worms such as mealworms. They also have twice the amount of fat in comparison to worms. Feed crickets to your baby chicks sparingly given that they contain a lot of fat which is not healthy for growing chicks.
– Scrambled or Boiled Eggs
Eggs in general are excellent in building up sick and weak baby chicks. Eggs are full of protein which is a vital nutrient for the growth and development of baby chicks. Whether scrambled or boiled, this treat is considered one of the best sources of protein for growing chickens.
You just have to provide it to your chicks once a week and in moderation to avoid compromising their health.
– Kitchen Scrap
Table scrap or kitchen scrap such as leftover spaghetti, bread, etc are also part of treats for baby chicks. For instance, tiny pieces of spaghetti are a tasty treat for your baby chicks and even adult chickens.
Normally, baby chicks view spaghetti as small worms. As such, they rush or scramble to grab them and run around. They certainly enjoy the sight of spaghetti dangling out of their small beaks. In your case, such a scene can be amusing and entertaining to watch as these innocent little chicks play around with pieces of spaghetti.
Foods You Should Avoid
Not all treats you come across are suitable for your baby chicks to feed on. Some of these foods include:
- Spoiled Food
- Salty Foods
Others are onions, avocados, peanuts, eggplant, pickles, rhubarb, and moldy bread.
All the above-mentioned foods are excluded from the list of the best treats for baby chicks because they contain harmful compounds or toxins that can cause serious health problems to your chicks. In extreme cases, these foods can cause death.
Luckily, most chickens tend to instinctively avoid eating these toxic foods. That does not mean that you should not take drastic measures when feeding your little chickens. Precautions regarding these toxic foods should be taken seriously at all times.
Should your baby chicks happen to consume any of the above-listed foods, give them some extra nutrients and electrolytes. This step should come into play only when the affected baby chickens display illness symptoms shortly after eating toxic foods. However, chickens are likely to heal themselves over a given period, especially in moments of less severe incidences.
Don’t Forget About Grit
Grit comes in handy as a helpful supplement when feeding your baby chicks on treats or chicken scraps. Usually, grit comes in the form of small stones or tiny pebbles that chickens eat along with other types of food.
Once the chickens ingest grit, it is temporarily stored in their gizzards. The main function of a gizzard is to help grind foods for easy digestion and absorption. So, the presence of grit in the gizzard helps grind food efficiently.
Grit comes in various sizes to suit different categories of poultry. In this sense, you should look for starter grit which is finely ground to help their digestive system. You can mix starter grit with treats for your baby chicks to eat. Apart from that, you can offer it separately.
Don’t confuse grit with oyster shells. The two types of supplements perform different roles. However, you should never give oyster shells to your baby chicks as this is a treat for laying hens.
Baby chicks can virtually eat everything they come across. In this regard, make sure your little chickens eat the right type of food at all times. This includes recommended treats that provide essential nutrients for their growth and development.
Another point to note is that baby chicks and adult chickens need different quantities of food and nutrients. For that reason, it is wise to separate them during their feeding time until your chicks are about two months old.
Besides, older chickens tend to be aggressive toward smaller chicks, particularly during feeding time. Therefore, keep an eye on your chicks to avoid being bullied or even killed by older chickens. Most importantly, supplement their daily commercial feed with the above-recommended treats. But ensure that the treats are fed in moderation all the time.