Your initial focus when getting baby chickens was probably the basics: selecting a breed, setting up a chick brooder, and what you can feed chickens. When you were researching this last part, did you consider treats for baby chicks? Treats can add nutrition to your baby chicks’ diet. Plus they can be fun for your birds and for you!
When thinking about treats for your baby chicks, keep in mind how small they are. Most of their diet should be supplied by a good quality chick starter. Treats should make up no more than 10 percent of their total intake. This is a good rule of thumb for all birds in your flock, no matter their age.
Chicks who are only eating feed do not necessarily need additional grit. If you are feeding chickens scraps or other treats, they will require this supplement. What is grit, exactly? Grit consists of small stones which the chicken eats and holds temporarily in its gizzard. This muscular organ acts like teeth for the chicken. Food is ground up by the action of the gizzard, with the help of the grit, so that the chicken can digest it. Grit comes in different sizes. For chicks, you should look for “starter grit,” which will be more finely ground. Adult birds who are able to free range pick up grit naturally in the environment but babies, who will most likely be confined, need you to supply it. This is an essential addition if you are feeding treats for baby chicks! Grit can be mixed in with food or offered separately. We have had success both ways; the birds seem to instinctively understand it is something they need and eat it as needed.
Treats for Baby Chicks
So what exactly can you feed those cute babies? Treats for baby chicks really look fairly similar to treats for adult chickens. They can eat a wide variety of foods if prepared properly. Again, think of their small body size. Cut up any food offered into appropriately sized pieces.
Hard boiled eggs are a classic treat for baby chicks. Eggs are something chicken keepers often have on hand (in abundance!) and they provide a lot of protein for growing babies. Though hard boiled eggs are fairly easy for chicks to pick apart, you may want to mash it up before serving.
Yogurt or Cottage Cheese
Like eggs, yogurt and cottage cheese provide good protein as a treat for baby chicks. Yogurt also supports good gut health with all its probiotics. Cottage cheese is a favorite of our birds, young and old. They do make a mess but have so much fun diving in for the curds!
Worms, Insects and Crickets
You can provide your baby chicks worms in several forms. Meal worms are easily purchased from the store and will be devoured by your young ones. Though it takes more work, you can also collect worms or other small insects from your yard for your babies. This can be a fun way to involve children in the care of your flock. My stepsons like to pick cabbage moth caterpillars off the plants in the garden in feed them to our birds. It’s pest control and treats for baby chickens all in one fun package. Crickets can also be caught or purchased and thrown into your chick brooder. Try this one and be sure to stay and watch the show. Chicks are bound to love the chase as much as the reward when they catch the poor insect!
Fruit and Veggies
Chicks enjoy a wide range of fruits and vegetables. Some favorites among our birds are bananas, tomatoes, strawberries, watermelon, apples, grapes, lettuce, cucumbers, squash and kale. Again, keep in mind the size of your young birds. Softer items might be okay to throw in whole (watermelon or ripe stone fruit) and let the chicks pick off pieces, but tougher items should be cut up into appropriately sized pieces. When in doubt, cut it up.
Since I grow kale and its season is so long, lasting all the way through the winter some years, this has been a staple treat for our flock. As a treat for baby chicks, I de-stem and chop it up. For the adults, I sometimes just throw a whole plant into the run and they tear it apart.
Greens from your yard can also serve as veggie treat for baby chicks. Dandelion greens, clover and grass clippings have all been favorites here. Be sure not to feed these to your flock if you use chemicals to treat your lawn.
Small pieces of spaghetti are an entertaining treat for your little ones. They seem to view them as little worms, rushing in to grab a piece and running off with it dangling out of their mouths. Try this one if you want a good laugh.
Hopefully this list has given you some ideas of treats for baby chicks in your flock. The options are numerous. Just be sure to follow the rules of moderation and adding grit along with the treats, and have fun watching your birds devour their treats!