Am I spoiling my birds?

Mark Whatley

Chirping
Aug 8, 2020
51
85
86
My 4 Buff Orpingtons are approaching 25 weeks. I started them on Purina Layena at 18 weeks. The girls love to cruise in the backyard and forage. They had been regularly visiting their feeder as they make their orbits around the yard. A couple of weeks ago I started throwing out a few handfuls of scratch in the grass and beds. Since then they seem less interested in the feeder. I understand that scratch is not a nutritionally complete food, but rather a treat or boredom buster. Should I withdraw the scratch to encourage more visits to the feeder?
 

Shadrach

Roosterist
Premium Feather Member
Jul 31, 2018
19,085
157,391
1,592
Catalonia, Spain & UK
My Coop
My Coop
My 4 Buff Orpingtons are approaching 25 weeks. I started them on Purina Layena at 18 weeks. The girls love to cruise in the backyard and forage. They had been regularly visiting their feeder as they make their orbits around the yard. A couple of weeks ago I started throwing out a few handfuls of scratch in the grass and beds. Since then they seem less interested in the feeder. I understand that scratch is not a nutritionally complete food, but rather a treat or boredom buster. Should I withdraw the scratch to encourage more visits to the feeder?
Yes. :)
 

Mark Whatley

Chirping
Aug 8, 2020
51
85
86
When my flock is able to free range they will eat less of their feed. You can stop with the scratch to see if that changes anything.
Chances are if you even cut some grass or trim some grass, put it in a bucket and dump it out for them, they will be extremely happy!
They have access to grass and they spend plenty of time foraging in it.
 

GC-Raptor

Free Ranging
5 Years
Jul 26, 2016
5,684
11,698
671
Connecticut, USA
The girls love to cruise in the backyard and forage. They had been regularly visiting their feeder as they make their orbits around the yard.
If they're out foraging most of the day, I would only use Scratch Grains to call them back to the coop or pen.
I would give Scratch as a treat on bad weather days when they can't forage.
I started throwing out a few handfuls of scratch in the grass and beds. Since then they seem less interested in the feeder.
My chickens are in a large pen most of the day and only get out to free range an hour before sunset daily, weather permitting.
I give them a treat of Scratch twice daily, mid-morning and early afternoon, scattered in their pen.
20201010_173513_resized.jpg

A half Tbsp per chicken twice daily, One Tbsp twice daily during winter season.
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I keep Scratch in a coffee can and I shake the can and say chook, chook, every time and they gather around.
If I need them to come back to the pen before sunset, I can call them back the same way. GC
 

Callender Girl

Crossing the Road
Sep 18, 2018
3,115
18,115
766
North Central Iowa
Like GC-Raptor, I use scratch as a bribe to lure reluctant chickens back to their coops when I'm ready for them to call it a day and they'd rather hang outdoors a little longer.

Also, if I can't spot somebody when I'm out checking on my free-ranging flock during the day, I open the feed can, and the mere sound of the lid opening draws a crowd for a chance to snack on scratch.
 

DogAndCat36

Crowing
Mar 12, 2020
2,089
5,740
426
Northern Maine
My 4 Buff Orpingtons are approaching 25 weeks. I started them on Purina Layena at 18 weeks. The girls love to cruise in the backyard and forage. They had been regularly visiting their feeder as they make their orbits around the yard. A couple of weeks ago I started throwing out a few handfuls of scratch in the grass and beds. Since then they seem less interested in the feeder. I understand that scratch is not a nutritionally complete food, but rather a treat or boredom buster. Should I withdraw the scratch to encourage more visits to the feeder?
You are doing great! My chickens when I first got them were always hiding in the coop and gorging on feed. They only rarely stuck their heads out. I got chicken scratch and tossed it out and it helped them learn how to scratch the ground for bugs. Chicken scratch is a great way to encourage chickens to forage. Foraging is a big important thing for chickens. It distracts them from boredom which will help with bullying and the chickens can also eat nutritional bugs and grass that feed just can't match and the chickens can file their nails down and eat gravel to help with digestion.
I do suggest that you lower it if you are throwing too much though because it can make them lazy. Since they are young, you should not throw the scratch in a big area but instead in a small area around 4 square feet until they start to kick up grass and peck from rapidly.
 

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