grit and scratch question!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by 2DogsCoop, Apr 22, 2011.

  1. 2DogsCoop

    2DogsCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 16, 2011
    Naples, FL
    Our 5 RIR arrived yesterday and they are quickly getting used to their new home. I am still using a starter feed from TS and they are eating it fine. I have oyster shell available for them. I have a question about when to give them grit and scratch? Not sure on this one, I want very healthy girls and lots of eggs.
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member


    Feed them chick starter and fresh clean water. There will be plenty of time to offer other things, which require grit to digest, later.
    If you wish to offer them anything, make it scrambled egg bits. They can easily digest eggs, which is what they ate before hatch.

    At 6 weeks, they'll be able to walk the yard, pick at sand and bits of gravel they find. Scratch, typical scratch, is merely a few grains thrown together. It isn't cheap anymore, either. It only typically provides 1/2 the nutrition of feed. Read the labels. You'll be amazed. It isn't a great bang for the buck nutritionally.
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Oh, and take away the oyster shell. They don't need that either. Perhaps, perhaps when they are 20 weeks old and begin to lay and you find their shells aren't as thick as you'd like, you can provide it then. Chicks have absolutely zero need for that calcium which can indeed be found to be harmful to their growing systems.
  4. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    Just to clarify, your birds are chicks, right?

    I remember seeing a picture here yesterday of someone who received point of lay pullets, shipped through the mail. Unusual, but it happens, so I thought I'd doublecheck about the age of your birds.
  5. 2DogsCoop

    2DogsCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 16, 2011
    Naples, FL
    They are 17 weeks old started pullets from Murray McMurray, one laid an egg in the shipping box, so one is already laying. Sorry didn't provide enough information!
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2011
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Scratch - This is usually a mixture of grains, though sometimes people just use straight corn, that is given to the chickens as a treat. It does not have the same balance of nutrients that they need, but corn often makes up a large portion of regular chicken feed. Other things are mixed in the feed in a the correct proportion to provide a proper balance of nutrients. There is nothing wrong with giving treats as long as you don't give them enough to upset their "balanced" diet. Usually if they can clean it up in 10 to 20 minutes, it will not be a problem at all. Look on it as feeding a child candy. It is nice to let them experience some of the finer things in life, but don't feed them so much candy they don't eat their regular meals.

    Grit - Chickens do not have teeth to chew up their food, but they eat things that need to be chewed up. They solve this by using pebbles and sand in thier gizzard to grind up their food. They can usually find stuff to use as grit if they have access to the ground, but if they do not have access to the ground, you can get granite grit at the feed store and offer that to them on the side. You can also just rake up small gravel from a gravel road or some similar place, but if your roads are salted in the winter, you should not do this. Their system cannot handle the salt. The size they use is anything from about the size of a green pea down to coarse sand. An easy thing to do, especially if you have a wet spot in your run, is to get a bag of pea gravel and dump that in their run. It will help keep the footing firmer and they can find plenty of stuff to use as grit.

    Since they are laying age, not chicks, providing oyster shell on the side is fine. The extra calcium in oyster shell can damage growing chicks' kidneys or cause bone deformation. But since yours are grown and laying, this is not a concern. They need calcium for their egg shell development.

    You should be feeding them Layer, it does not matter if that is crumbles or pellets. Layer has all the nutrients they need to stay healthy and lay well. It also has extra calcium in it. They will probably get enough calcium from the Layer, but it does not hurt to have oyster shell on the side.
  7. 2DogsCoop

    2DogsCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 16, 2011
    Naples, FL

    Thank you so much, very informative and much appreciated.
  8. Five Dog Farm

    Five Dog Farm Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 1, 2011
    We give scratch as a treat from time to time. But as it starts to turn colder, we give them more.Not much protein value, but lots of carbs and starches use for energy. They will burn lots of calories in the harsh cold just maintaining body temp.
  9. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 21, 2010
    Apple Hill
    If they are laying, they need free access to oyster shell or some other form of calcium supplementation. They're pretty good at deciding for themselves whether they need it or not.

    When it comes to grit, my philosophy is to offer this free-choice as well and not assume that they're finding enough suitable grit in their environment. It's inexpensive and important for them.

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