Am i feeding too much scratch?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by msrma7670, Mar 24, 2008.

  1. msrma7670

    msrma7670 Songster

    I have 15 chickens, 13 are hens, 3 are roos. All are about 4 1/2 months old. I feed them 2 qts of scratch a day, and I keep a feeder filled with layer pellets. They are kept in a pen most of the time so there is no fresh grass in it. I supplement them with table scraps or fresh greens 2-3 times a week and let them out to forage once a week when I clean out their pen. Because of where I live I can not let them free range more than this. They wait at the pen door for me everytime I go outside, begging for more scratch. The roos even start crowing when I go out! But they are slow to eat the layer pellets. They look healthy and are active, but I am far from an expert.

    Thanks for any input you have!
  2. DuckLady

    DuckLady Administrator

    Jan 11, 2007
    NE Washington State
    That is a lot of scratch.
    I would cut back to maybe a few handfuls once a day.
    There is almost no nutrition in scratch. They beg you for it because it is like M&Ms to a kid (or me LOL)
  3. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    Out of curiosity, I weighed the scratch I have for pigeons. I suppose it may vary a little but I came up with 1.5 pounds per quart.

    Your 15 chickens, at .25 pound of feed per bird, require about 3.75 pounds of feed daily.

    Two quarts of scratch = 3 pounds.

    So, they'd be eating only about .75 pound of layer feed.

    their feed:
    80% scratch
    20% layer feed

    Even reversing those percentages would likely be excessive scratch feed.

  4. CUDA

    CUDA Songster

    Mar 4, 2008
    Run those numbers through my feed calculator , and see what you think! BTW, you feed them that amount of corn in the summer down your way, and you will burn them up. I also don't like to feed layer pellets to roosters, as the extra calcium is bad for them. You are better off to feed regular pellets, and supply oyster shells for the hens in my opinion. Good luck!
  5. airmom1c05

    airmom1c05 Songster

    Feb 3, 2008
    Raymond, Mississippi
    I'm glad you said that Cuda! I have a young pullet not quite laying age with my older flock. I have been mixing starter/grower with layer pellets and crumbles every day. The oyster shell is there as well free choice. I like the idea of just using starter/grower with oyster shell until she lays an egg!

    Back on topic, scratch has a lot of corn in it, and I only feed a handful or two to my 8 birds at roost time when it will be near freezing or below because it does warm up the birds which would NOT be good in warm weather or especially HOT weather. I read to give treats in moderation and late in the afternoon to insure the birds are getting enough of what's best for them - their complete well-balanced chicken food. I fool mine into thinking they are getting treats by hand feeding them their layer pellets and crumbles. They don't seem to know the difference (unless we're talking Pepperjack cheese!) [​IMG]
  6. CUDA

    CUDA Songster

    Mar 4, 2008
    You can continue to feed with regular pellets if you provide oyster shells, even after they are laying airmom. Excess calcium is not good for roosters, and the hens will get what they need from the oyster shells.
  7. msrma7670

    msrma7670 Songster

    Thanks everybody, this was real helpful! The whole family is enjoying the chickens, even the learning "trial by error"!
  8. twigg

    twigg Cooped up

    Mar 2, 2008
    1 to 2oz per bird mid to late afternoon is what I gave mine.

    They fill their crops with it an roost.

    You can tell if they had their fill by feeling their crops after they have settled .... should be a firm ball in the lower neck, about the size of a large ping-pong ball.
  9. msrma7670

    msrma7670 Songster

    Well, I put into action some of the changes ya'll suggested and my chickens are not happy with me or any of you![​IMG] I need to finish up using the layer food I have, but when it is gone I will go to regular pellet and offer oyster shells seperate. I did not give them any scratch this morning, just pellets and water. I tried hand feeding them the pellets (We often hand fed the some scratch) and they just looked at it as if saying, "What do you expect us to do with this?" A few hens pecked at my hand, but all they did was knock the food out of my hand, or peck at my thumb nail which happens to be painted red (OUCH). Oh well, I figure just like I tell my kids when they get picky, if they get hungry enough, they will eat it! I got to go give them a little scratch now that it is getting late.[​IMG]

    Thanks again for all your help!
  10. Barnyard Dawg

    Barnyard Dawg Songster

    Feb 7, 2007
    Northern California
    We feed our chickens a completely different diet, we use a rice cooker for mostly steamed rice along with some quinoa, barley, millet, adding ground flax seed, some crumbles, no scratch, a little oyster shell, shrimp heads and shells, fish, fresh vegetables and they love some small quanities of meat scraps. They also free range having access 24 hours a day.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2008

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