Everyone in the whole wide world is getting chicks right now.
Not me. Why? Because I live in a city with livestock restrictions that don't yet exclude chickens. I'll have to work on that!
I do have the next best thing though, a friend out of city limits who just hatched out his first clutch of chicks! Im sure that Ill wear out my welcome by the time they're out of their brooder.
If you have ever been lucky enough to let your broody hen set and watch those little peeps grow up with mom, then you know that they are up and off as soon as everyone hatches. They are out foraging with mom as soon as 24 hours from hatching. While out foraging, the family comes into contact with various auditory, textural, social and (my favorite) novel foods. These are all sources of enrichment that are easy to take for granted.
Raising chicks in the brooder has its own set of perks. (Can we say chick snuggles whenever you want?!) But, we have to get these little guys busy while they're in the brooder! What do your chicks see while they're growing? If your answer is the same 4 walls of a tupperware tub, let's enrich it!
Some wild fowl have been observed actively foraging for up to 80% of daylight hours.
80% is massive.
Here are some easy ways to get your hand raised peeps as stimulated as the chicks outside!
This is a wreath made of Tea Tree branches by National Geographic. I took some grape vine branches that I had left over from making Ellie new perches and added legs. Now, the chickies have a natural roost to practice hopping about on.
This is my favorite.
Feeding them. I try to stick with natural choices as often as I can, so a feed brand that I gravitated to was New Country Organics. They have an organic chick starter that is sure to set your peeps on the right track.
In addition to a good starter, chicks with mom are out foraging. They are foraging for the greens and foraging for the bugs and your chicks don't have to miss out! Petsmart has pinhead crickets that are the perfect size for tiny beaks to gobble up.
The first time you feed your peeps live crickets, just pour some in and let them figure it out. Once they have the hang of it you can add a foraging ball to the mix like this ball made by National Geographic out of willow and agave. The foraging ball used with live feeders works 2-fold. It serves as a hiding place for the crickets which in turn makes it more difficult (and more realistic) for the chicks to forage. I always bring a jar so I don't have to take their plastic baggies every time.
A jar of wheatgrass is a simple way to let them taste some good fresh greens. Your cats will thank you if you decide to share. Wheatgrass is also marketed as cat grass!
Pinecones. You've made those pinecone feeders for the wild birds, right? They make great feeders for your birds too! sprinkle some starter in there and you're golden!
Disclaimer- All of the items here are not perfect for every animal. Always watch your animals when giving enrichment. See how your animals interact with the items and each other. Are they picking too heavily at fibers? Are they getting too pushy at feeders? Please choose what you feel is best for the animals in your life and let them have fun!