Clarification on scratch

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by ZooAtHome, Apr 22, 2019.

  1. ZooAtHome

    ZooAtHome Chirping

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    I'm very new to raising chickens. I did research for over a year before I got my first chicks a little over a week ago. I've tried hard to educate myself as well as possible to avoid any obvious pitfalls, but I am still fuzzy on some of the lingo.

    Today's question is: What exactly qualifies as "scratch?" I've read that it is cracked corn and grains, but the organic scratch sold locally doesn't have any corn in it. Is "scratch" just a catch-all term for treats you throw on the ground for them to scratch at? Or does it have to meet certain criteria before it is considered "scratch?" For instance, I've never heard anyone refer to mealworms as "scratch" even though they are often fed the same way.

    I realize that the word itself is not nearly as important as the nutritional value; however, I am not seeking nutritional advice in this thread. I currently feed medicated starter crumble to my chicks with organic starter as their "scratch" to help them learn to come when I call them. What I'm curious about here is the commonly accepted meaning of the term "scratch" so that I know if I am using and understanding it correctly. (I am a writer and occasionally obsess over word usage, lol.)

    So tell me, please, what do you mean by the word "scratch" when talking about feeding chickens?
     
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  2. BullChick

    BullChick Not who you think

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    Anything not feed that they peck off the ground. Seeds typically.
     
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  3. Keeperofmunchkins

    Keeperofmunchkins Songster

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    Just to confuse things even more, in the UK scratch is called 'mixed corn' even though it is mostly whole wheat grains with only a small amount of corn.

    I think scratch is whole grain cereals ie corn wheat barley etc fed as a treat because these grains contain a lower percentage of protein than chickens need in their diet on the whole. I do not think other seeds like Sunflower or Pumpkin count as scratch because they have a higher protein percentage but also a much higher level of fat. Other foods like fruit and veg and mealworm count as treats but not scratch.
     
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  4. Keeperofmunchkins

    Keeperofmunchkins Songster

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    What kind of writing do you do by the way? Curious. :jumpy
     
  5. ZooAtHome

    ZooAtHome Chirping

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    Mostly fantasy, sometimes suspense, often a mix of the two. My current project centers around a female werewolf. So far, no chicken stories ... though that may change. ;)
     
  6. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

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    It will often say "scratch" right on the bag. They are mixed grains fed as a supplement, but are NOT a formulated complete feed, nor are the formulated with the needs of any specific breed or life stage in mind (as in not specific for chickens vs ducks vs layers vs meaties).
     
  7. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

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    oh, and I will say they are GRAINS, not meat based, not veggies, not fish meal, not any of the other micro or macro nutrients that may be added to a complete feed
     
  8. Keeperofmunchkins

    Keeperofmunchkins Songster

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    Ooh sounds interesting. I'm currently working on an urban fantasy novel about vampires! Still haven't found a way to work chickens into the story though...:lau
     
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  9. Fairview01

    Fairview01 Songster

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    To me scratch is any low protein food that they like more than the balanced feed in the feeders. If they look like piranhas attacking a wounded animal in the water its probably scratch.
     
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  10. ZooAtHome

    ZooAtHome Chirping

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    Yeah, I've seen the bags that say "scratch." My confusion came from noticing that not all those bags contain the same things, beyond the fact that they all seem to contain some assortment of grains.

    I did notice that the scratch sold at my local pet supply store has less than half the protein of the starter feed, which is what prompted me to buy the organic starter to use as "scratch" instead. It had everything that the scratch did, plus more, and was only slightly more expensive. Since the chicks seem to prefer the organic starter to the medicated crumbles, they view it as a treat but it still gives them the protein they need and the enrichment of scratching through their dirt box to find it. I'm using it twice a day to teach them to come when I call and it seems to work fine for that. When I finish off my large bag of medicated crumbles, I'll most likely just switch them over to the organic feed as their primary diet and try using actual scratch and/or mealworms for treats and training.

    I really appreciate all the feedback. It cleared things up a bit. I'm still a little unsure of why the scratch would be more appealing to the chickens than the feed, given that everything that is in the scratch is also in the feed. Perhaps it's a presentation thing? I do know that my little chicks go absolutely bonkers when I sprinkle the organic feed in their dirt box (kind of like I do when offered a box of chocolates). Maybe getting to "scratch" about for it is half the appeal. ;)
     
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