feeding scratch for the winter

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by schmamy, Nov 4, 2011.

  1. schmamy

    schmamy Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 3, 2011
    Our chickens free range, and we haven't been giving them scratch since their pre-egg-laying days. It sounds like it's a good idea to give them scratch over the winter for added warmth overnight and to replace the extra calories they burn keeping warm.

    How should we give it to them? Just mixed with regular food - and if so, in what ratio? Or thrown on the ground in their coop--I'm having a hard time imagining it mixed in with pine shavings...? It sounds like it's best to give it at night...any tips would be appreciated. Thanks.
  2. LiLRedCV

    LiLRedCV Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 25, 2010
    Land of the Rain
    I wouldn't necessarily toss it on the floor of the coop unless you're going with a deep litter method and need them to toss the floor every once in awhile to compost it. You can either mix it in with their regular feed or just add a secondary feeder filled with it.
  3. Clay Mudd

    Clay Mudd Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2011
    South MS swamps
    They do fine picking the scratch out of the pine shavings. The activity of having to, well, scratch for it generates some heat and keeps them busy, which helps keep them from pecking at each other when they're confined.
  4. ninabeast

    ninabeast Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2011
    Upstate New York
    I spread cracked corn or BOSS on a spot I want the chickens to be while free ranging, typically a safe place, or a place where the grass is more accessible. Works like a charm.
  5. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    I throw the scratch down either into the coop or the run. For the deep litter method, it's important for them to scratch and stir up those pineshavings or straw. I come in and stir it up every few days with a garden rake too.

    As another member mentioned, it does give them something to do.....Keeps them busy. The activity helps warm up their bodies too, as well as eating the scratch.

    My flock free ranges, and after I do my chores, like raking up the run, filling the feeders and waterers, then I throw down some cracked corn in the run so that I can get them to come in for the night. Believe me, they come running when they hear me shake the corn scooper! Then I lock them up for the night.....

    It's great to use as a bribe when you want them to go inside the run. [​IMG] Corn or scratch works well for a bribe! LOL
  6. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    I think scratch grains are terrific for behavior modification. Very Pavlov.

    Our birds have been conditioned by rattling pellets. Works the same and more balanced in nutrition. Too darn expensive to be their standard feed, but they make a terrific solid feed to use as an enticement.
  7. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    The one thing I wouldn't do is mix it in with their feed. A lot of chickens will dig through the feeder looking for the scratch and waste a lot of the regular feed on the floor. I'd either toss it out to give them something to do or provide it in a separate bowl.
  8. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    I don't know that it would actually keep your birds warm....carbs are burnt off quickly and protein has a more lasting effect if you wish to provide extra nutrition for keeping warm.

    I don't know what exactly is in "Scratch", as I've never bought any all these 35 years of keeping chickens, but I suspect it has basically what I add to my feed in the winter time to cut my feed bill and give more roughage and variety to my free range chickens when the forage is not sufficient.

    I use a base of laying mash and add whole grains of wheat, barley, BOSS, oats, and minimal parts of cracked corn and alfalfa. I also add OS right in the mix nearing the end of winter and starting into the laying season. When egg production ramps up in late winter/early spring, I go back to more laying mash and less of the whole grains.

    I cover my trough style feeder with 2x3 welded wire to prevent flicking and shoveling and have virtually no feed loss since doing this. Also just feed once in the morning in the winter months and just enough that they can clean it up in that day....winter time is when the rodents are most attracted to feed sources and I don't wish to lose any to them. Rats can cart an amazing amount of feed off in a night's time.

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