[This series is a diary of our experience with raising chickens for our home flock. To see all articles in this series, please visit Home Flock Series.]
Today, we began adding some grit on top of the baby chicks’ food. The grit is made from small pieces of crushed granite. The chicks will eat some of the grit and store it in their gizzard, where they will use it to grind the food that they eat. They don’t need very much, so we just sprinkled some on like you would do when salting your own food.
We didn’t have any “chick grit” on hand, but we did have a previously opened 50 pound bag of adult sized grit, also known as grower grit (a 50 pound bag of grit lasts a long time). This “grower” grit is too big for baby chicks, so we made chick grit by crushing or grinding the grower grit.
At first, we crushed it with a hammer, which worked pretty well but was slow, then with a little experimentation, we found that we could grind chick grit much more quickly and with better results by rubbing it between two large stones that each have a flat surface.
Yesterday, we noticed that some of the chicks were starting to “paste up” a little. This means that their manure was sticking to them, close to the vent. This is not uncommon with young chicks. It is caused by stress and usually clears up within a few days, but it is important to take care of it promptly. The best way to do this is to get some warm water and a cloth, such as a wash cloth, then gently work at the manure with the warm, wet cloth until the manure loosens up and you can remove it. This was a pretty mild case, so it came off easily. We’re keeping an eye on them in case they begin pasting up again, but so far, they’re all doing great.
Below is a gallery of photos. You can click on any of the photos below to see a larger view. It is interesting to compare the size and shape of the wing feathers on the different breeds.