Baby chicks can eat crickets. Like adult chickens, chicks are omnivores, so they feed on plant and animal matter. The range of animal matter they feed on includes reptiles, worms, amphibians, and insects. Crickets are one of the many insects they eat.
While starter feed is most vital to the growth and development of baby chicks, you can also feed treats to your chicks. Even though many foods pass as treats for chicks, you should always verify whether the food is safe for your chicks.
We take it that it’s your first time feeding crickets to your baby chicks, and you want to be sure that all is well. So when can chicks start eating crickets? How much can they eat? Find out below!
Why Feed Crickets to Your Chicks?
Crickets are highly nutritious for chicks as they are rich in protein, fat, calcium, and other beneficial nutrients.
So, they are safe and healthy for chicks. Of course, they are only safe so long you do not feed excessive amounts of crickets to your chicks.
At What Age Can They Start Eating Crickets?
In the first 48 hours of their life, you do not have to feed your chicks at all. Chicks absorb the yolk of their eggs on hatching, and the absorbed yolk sustains them for around 24 to 48 hours.
After the first 48 hours, you may start feeding crickets to your chicks. But then, depending on whether you have a broody chicken or not, you may want to postpone starting the chicks on crickets so early.
If there is a broody hen, you may let your chicks have crickets within 48 hours after hatching. In fact, even if you do not give crickets to the chicks, the broody hen will most likely introduce bugs to them.
If there is no broody hen, delay giving the chicks crickets for a week or more. If you give the chicks treats too early, they may get used to them and prefer them over starter feed. Since starter feed is important, you do not want a case where your chicks refuse it.
Are Crickets Hard for Chicks to Digest?
Crickets have a tough exoskeleton, which contains chitin. For people, chitin is generally indigestible. But since chickens have chitinase in their guts, they can digest chitin.
However, chicks don’t digest crickets well unless they get extra grit in their diet. If chicks don’t have grit, the treats will sit in their stomachs and make them sick. As long as there is enough grit, crickets are not hard for chicks to digest.
Your chicks may or may not need extra grit, depending on what you feed them. If all they eat is chick feed, then extra grit may not be necessary. However, if your chicks have started eating treats, you must give them extra grit.
If the chicks move around foraging for treats with a broody hen, they’ll most likely pick up grit as they peck food off the ground. So, you may not have to give them any extra grit.
What Size Crickets Can Chicks Eat?
Chicks can eat crickets that are about ½ an inch long or shorter.
Can They Eat Live Crickets?
Chicks can eat live crickets. You may choose to toss the live crickets on the ground for the chicks to eat them. Alternatively, you could hand-feed the crickets to your chicks.
Freeze Dried Crickets?
Chicks can eat freeze-dried crickets. You could toss the freeze-dried crickets on the ground and let the chicks go after them. Alternatively, you may crush the dried crickets and mix them with their chick feed.
Chicks will eat crickets, whether dead or alive.
Can They Eat Crickets Found in Your House?
Chicks can eat crickets found in your house if the crickets are alive. But if the crickets are dead, you should confirm if they were killed with an insecticide before letting your chicks eat them.
10 Other Bugs Baby Chicks Love To Eat
Besides crickets, baby chicks also love to eat the following bugs:
- Potato Beetles
- Black flies
Baby chicks can eat crickets in moderate amounts.
If you have a broody chicken around the chicks, they can start eating crickets within 1-2 days after hatching.
But if there is no broody chicken, wait for up to a week before you give your chicks crickets. During this waiting period, help them adapt to starter feed as their primary meal.