chicken scratch

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by bobbi16, Nov 8, 2011.

  1. bobbi16

    bobbi16 Out Of The Brooder

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    What is chicken scratch and do my layers need it???? They are currently just on organic grower, soon to go on layer feed. I also am gonna start on oyster shell and grit for the winter.
     
  2. chickengrl

    chickengrl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chicken scratch is usually cracked corn and sometimes another grain added to it. Chickens don't really "need" it, but it is something that they really LOVE to eat. We throw it on the ground in the run in the evening when we want to get them inside and ready to go in the coop for the night. Mostly regarded as a treat mostly, and the layer food should be their main food. Kind of like chicken junk food. Some folks do feel that it provides some added body heat fuel in the winter for the cold nights. Hope that helps! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2011
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Most scratch has little or no purpose and no, your hens do not NEED it. Owners buy it because it is entertainment food, in the chicks scratch around pecking at it. It also can be useful to modify behaviors and reward them with something to come at the sound of a can rattling some scratch in it. It is likely that the reward could just as easily be something more nutritious. It's nutritional value is roughly half of layer feed, yet costs almost as much. Not a great value in my book. If it were $5 a 50 lb bag, I'd buy some from time to time, but at $10? Nope. I'd rather sprout oats or wheat, or buy alfalfa or other things with the money, but that's just me.
     
  4. Johnboy78

    Johnboy78 Out Of The Brooder

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    Scratch is great stuff for the backyard chicken person.
    It's junk food and they love it.
    I got a tiny galvanized bucket, maybe quart size, and I keep
    the scratch in it. When they hear the bucket they come running.
    I use it to get them together for head counts, to lure my flighty
    Hamburg escape artist back into the yard. (Too stupid to fly back over the fence
    but with her flockmates scrounging nearby she can be lured back under the fence
    with scratch)
    A few handfulls a day, probably less than a cup for eight hens.
    I get Purina, loose at Pet Supplies Plus, a few pounds at a time.
    55 cents a pound, maybe that's a fortune in farm country but on Long Island
    it's cheap and there are probably less than a dozen places it might be found.

    Were I a big time chicken raiser I wouldn't bother but as a backyard chicken "pet owner"
    it's a great tool.
     
  5. ridgewood chickens

    ridgewood chickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 21, 2011
    Monadnock Region, NH
    I use it as a "treat", throwing some into their run every couple of days, they love it and it gets them out into the run for some exercise. They certainly don't need it, and if you give them too much, they'll ignore their layer or whatever other feed you're giving them, which isn't good. I also only use it in the cold months, try to give them more organic treats from the garden, lawn, etc. during warmer months.
     
  6. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I quit buying it because I can't buy less than 25#, and really, the freshest stuff around here is in 50# bags; I have 11 chickens. For treats I usually use BOSS or oatmeal, or both, unless I have some good leftovers, scraps (they love when I peel apples, for example) or extra eggs I can scramble for them. It's a personal choice. If you have a small backyard flock, it's easy to give too much just to avoid letting it go bad. I'd probably buy some at least now and then if I could buy a quart or so at a time. Some places you can buy much higher quality scratch than others, too. BTW, it's a common myth on here that corn does more to help keep them warm in winter than any other similar food, though of course digesting any food creates some body heat.
     
  7. rancher hicks

    rancher hicks Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 28, 2009
    Syracuse, NY
    Fred's Hens :

    Most scratch has little or no purpose and no, your hens do not NEED it. Owners buy it because it is entertainment food, in the chicks scratch around pecking at it. It also can be useful to modify behaviors and reward them with something to come at the sound of a can rattling some scratch in it. It is likely that the reward could just as easily be something more nutritious. It's nutritional value is roughly half of layer feed, yet costs almost as much. Not a great value in my book. If it were $5 a 50 lb bag, I'd buy some from time to time, but at $10? Nope. I'd rather sprout oats or wheat, or buy alfalfa or other things with the money, but that's just me.

    Sorry Fred but this isn't entirely true.

    The benefits of scratch are.

    1. It keeps hens busy and from getting bored. I toss scratch into the weedy growth around my garden fence so I don't have to weed whack. The birds dig and "scratch" the roots and kill the weeds where I want rather than the grass where I don't.

    2. Tossing scratch into the litter on the coop floor gets them to "work" the litter keeping it aerated and drier than if they did not. It's great to keep that run floor from getting packed down and that keeps things soft for their dusting routine.

    3. It also keeps them from "picking" at themselves and each other. Many times when you see a bird picked on it's due to boredom. You also see this in Parrots. They need something to occupy their minds.

    4. Scratch does have oats which is good for protein and the corn helps them to generate heat on cold winter nights. This is why you don't over do it in hot areas but increase it in cold areas. If it's cold, really cold , you want them to go to bed with a full gizzard.

    5. They like it and what's wrong with that?

    6. Chicken people have been tossing scratch long before we were born and old ideas are not always worthless. Every book and many magazines I've read, tout the benefit of scratch.

    So toss the scratch in areas where they have to "hunt" for it. DON"T rely on it for total diet.

    But that's just me and my chickens. [​IMG]

    Love ya ,

    Rancher​
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. Clay Mudd

    Clay Mudd Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 28, 2011
    South MS swamps
    Fred's Hens :

    I'd rather sprout oats or wheat,

    And then use it exactly like "scratch". [​IMG]




    edited to add: at least I do that.​
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2011

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