Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Lesson 1383 – Medicated Mash Or Not?

By Wendythomas @wendyenthomas


It’s chick season! My Facebook page is filled with all sorts of adorable chick photos (not that I’m complaining.)

I recently gave a chick workshop to some people who are interested in perhaps “trying chickens” (my advice? just bite the bullet and go for it.)

One way in which my workshops differ from others is that I suggest that all chicks receive medicated mash (baby food) until they are fully feathered and ready to live in the coop. Even if you want to grow “organic birds” I suggest medicated feed for those first few weeks.

Sorry, but it’s the microbiologist in me. I know what bacteria can do. Think about it. If you get chicks from a feed store they are typically housed in low tubs. Moms’ bring their young (sneezing) kids over to look at them. People pick them up (because they are so cute) and then return them to the tub (because they are not cute enough to keep.) Not only that but chicks are typically kept with many, many other chicks some of which may be weak and it’s the weaker ones that get sick. When one chick in a tub with hundreds gets sick, chances are many others will as well.

So I see medicated feed as a sort of insurance policy. Eat this for a few weeks just to make sure.

One year I got a few chicks from a local feed store. Almost immediately one chick started showing symptoms of a respiratory illness. Although she was isolated and we gave her access to food and water, she couldn’t eat. She didn’t make it and died within a few hours.

The day *after* we had gotten the chicks, another one started to show signs of respiratory illness (see what I mean about exposure). She had had 24 hours of more medicated feed in her system than the first one and she ended up surviving.

Yeah, I know, as any scientist would point out, there are too many variables to make a definitive conclusion. Maybe they didn’t have the same illness, maybe one was just stronger than the other. maybe it was the hydration and not the food, but you know what? I don’t care and I’m not willing to take the chance that it wasn’t the food.

Chicks are exposed to a lot of bacteria when they are sold in stores and even online. It’s my opinion that medicated feed for the first few weeks gives them a fighting chance.

With regard to the Blue Egg Countdown – this is this morning’s photo: Monday May 16th.

The blueberries and raspberries I set out for our mama were a hit, the raisins, not so much.




Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at [email protected]

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

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