Raising chicks can be a complex task. It can be quite expensive to raise chicks on a strict chick-feed diet, so you may want to supplement their feed with other cheaper foods.
An example of cheap food for chicks is vegetables.
Can chicks eat vegetables?
If so, when can they start eating vegetables?
Chicks can start eating vegetables when they are more than three weeks old. Chicks can eat various vegetables such as leafy greens and nutrient-rich root vegetables.
What other types of vegetables can chicks eat? What should you know before feeding chicks with vegetables? Continue reading to find out!
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When Can Chicks Start Eating Vegetables?
The recommended age of your chicks to start eating vegetables is 3-4 weeks. This is because most vegetables are not protein-rich, and chicks need a lot of protein in their first weeks after hatching.
Your chicks need as much protein as they can get to develop their feathers as well grow to become adult birds.
Are vegetables good for chicks? Of course. Vegetables are good for chicks, but feeding them with a 100% vegetable diet is bad for them as they need proteins to grow.
You should only feed vegetables to your chicks as enrichment or entertainment. Do not feed them as a primary food source because chicks (just like other young animals) require high protein to grow into adults.
Best Types of Vegetables to Feed Chicks
Now you know when you can start feeding chicks vegetables. You should also know which vegetables to feed chicks. Here are some recommended types of vegetables to feed your chicks with:
- Snow pea pods
You can feed your chicks leafy greens and safe root vegetables. Remember to boil potatoes before giving them to your chicks.
Here are some harmful vegetables (or plants) that you should not feed chicks with:
- Nightshade Leaves: You should not allow your chicks to eat the leaves of plants such as tomatoes and peppers. These plants contain toxins that are harmful to birds and other animals.
- Avocado: Avocados are rich in fat. Also, their pits contain substances toxic to chicks. Chicks do not need fatty foods.
- Raw Potatoes: Raw potatoes can be hard to digest and can block your chicks’ digestive system. Always cook your potatoes before you feed chicks with them.
Please do not harm your chicks by feeding them harmful foods.
How to Introduce Your Chickens to a Vegetable Diet
You can throw in the vegetable treats to your chicks anytime, and they will peck on the leaves (or roots) when they want. You can also shred the vegetables and mix them with their chicken feed so that your chicks can eat multiple foods at once.
Note that if you mix your chicken feed with the shredded vegetables, you should replace their food in less than 12 hours. Remember that vegetables can quickly go bad: you do not want to harm your chicks.
Useful Tips When Feeding Chicks With Vegetables
Before feeding your chicks with vegetables, take note of the following tips:
1.Feed Your Chicks With a Regular Protein-Rich Diet
Feeding your chicks with only vegetables can slow their growth as they will lack protein.
You should make sure that their protein-rich diet is always available even when you are not watching. If you want your chicks to grow quickly, make sure that they always have access to feed.
Remember to wash their feeding trough regularly and replace their feed daily.
2.Always Make Grit Available
If you want to feed your chicks vegetables and other treats (aside from store-bought chick treats), you should make sure that grit is always available. Grit is made of little rocks and other minerals that help chicks digest their foods.
Grit is usually available in chick feed as well as in store-bought treats, but if you want to supplement a chick’s diet with vegetables, make sure that grit is always available. You could also use ground eggshells as grit for your little birds.
To give your birds grit, just pour it into their feeding trough. The chicks will swallow the grit while eating.
3.Ensure That the Vegetables Are Safe
Where did you get the vegetables from? Chicks are still young and tender, so you need to be very careful with what you feed them.
Do not feed your chicks moldy vegetables.
Also, it helps to rinse the vegetables with clean water before giving them to your chicks. If you are not so sure about the safety of the vegetables, you should not give them to your chicks.
4.Make a Green Piñata for Your Chicks
If you feel that your chicks are bored or need more excitement, you can give them a green piñata.
A green piñata is simply a vegetable that you hang on the roof of your chick brooder or coop. When the chicks are bored or need extra nutrition, they can jump on and peck the piñata.
You can use vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage for your chick’s green piñata as they are easy to peck on and eat by your chicks. You should make sure that the piñata is clean. Remember to change it daily as well.
5.Inspect Your Chicks After Feeding Them With Vegetables
Feeding chicks with a new type of diet can affect them in various ways, so you should inspect your chicks when you feed them with vegetables for the first time.
You should check for signs of fatigue, disease, and weight loss. Make sure that your chicks are fine before giving them more vegetables.
Your chicks should be perfectly fine with a vegetable diet, so you have nothing to worry about. If your chicks look tired or sick, you should inspect the vegetables to make sure that they are safe for consumption. Your chicks getting sick after eating vegetables can be a coincidence.
Useful tips, right? Please remember them when feeding your chicks with vegetables.
Aside from vegetables, what else can you feed your chicks?
Other Healthy Treats for Chicks
Here are some healthy treats you can feed your chicks with:
1. Insects and Their Larvae
You can get insect treats for your chicks. Insects are rich in proteins and other nutrients, so you can give as much as you can to your chicks. You can buy insect treats from a store, or you can allow your chicks to forage for some by themselves.
You should also feed your chicks with insect larvae such as mealworms.
These larvae are protein-rich as well, so make sure that your chicks have enough. You can easily find mealworms in any nearby feed mill. And what’s more, you can culture some by yourself.
2.Seeds and Grains
You can give your chicks seeds such as sunflower seeds and chia seeds. Chicks also enjoy eating the protein-rich seeds of pumpkins (crushed) and papayas. Make sure that the seeds are fresh and not moldy.
Do you have bread to spare? Give it to your chicks. Chicks love eating bread and bread crumbs.
Give bread to your chicks as treats, as bread usually does not have enough proteins to support their growth.
Please do not give moldy bread to your chicks.
Chicks can eat fruits such as apples (excluding the seeds), bananas, pumpkins, and cantaloupes. Only feed fresh fruits to your chicks.
5.Fresh Kitchen Scraps
If you have kitchen scraps such as cooked vegetables and other safe items for your birds, you can feed them to your chicks. Always inspect the safety of the food scraps.
So, what treats will you give to your chicks?
Remember that chicks can eat vegetables but as treats. Do not feed them with only vegetables. Give them a protein-rich diet so that they can grow quickly. You should also feed your chicks with other healthy treats such as insects, bread, grains, and kitchen scraps.