Grit Blogs > Lessons Learned From the Flock

Chicks and Red Marbles

Recently I wrote a piece about how chickens were naturally drawn to the color red and that you could use this knowledge to help you manage your flock. Because of this attraction to red, you can use feeders with red bases when you have chicks to get them used to the idea of eating and drinking out of feeders, you can isolate chickens with red wounds so that the other chickens will not peck at them, and by not wearing dangly red earrings into the coop (go ahead and ask me how I know about this one) you are probably going to avoid bodily injury.

This past weekend I was given a solitary, very young Black Copper Marans chick. She couldn’t have been more than a day old and as I set up a brooder for her (Tupperware tub) I was stymied as to how to give her food and water. Oh sure, we have the small sized feeders but she was so tiny I didn’t think she could reach them, it seemed a little overkill. She also lacked older flock mates to show her how to use the feeders.

What to do, what to do.

Then I remembered the red. I sent my son upstairs to get a few of his red marbles and I put a small, low water bowl and feed bowl  in the tub and then placed a few marbles into each bowl.

The light from the heater lamp made the marbles look especially sparkly and red. 
 Water and red marbles 

Once our chick had gotten used to her surroundings, sure enough, she walked over to check out the water dish. Her first pecks hit the marbles but as soon as her beak slid into the water, she got the idea and started drinking.

The same thing went for the food dish.

Feed and red marbles 

Now on her third day of being in our house, she knows exactly where the water and food are located and she’s busy getting her fill and growing like the proverbial weed. When she’s large enough, I’ll switch over to a conventional feeder and waterer.

I certainly wouldn’t use red marbles if you have lot of chicks (low bowls tend to get the bedding kicked into them.) I’ll be careful to remove the marbles before our chick get too much larger in the event that she might try to swallow them, but using red marbles is something to keep in your back pocket (and to add to your chicken first aid kit) if you find yourself for some reason with a young solitary chick or if you might need to isolate a chick from the rest due to sickness or injury and using regular feeders is just not practical.


I write about lessons learned living with children and chickens in New Hampshire. You can follow our family's stories at my blog: Lessons Learned From the Flock.