grit? scratch?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by TheOldHen, Sep 21, 2011.

  1. TheOldHen

    TheOldHen Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 24, 2011
    Green Bay,WI
    I have not been able to find a bag of "grit" in our city. Can i use gravel that is sold in the pet store for bird/parrots?
    Scratch is another thing i keep reading i need. I can only buy it in 50# bags. I only have 4 chickens and storage of the food,bedding plus add the scratch would be a lot. Any idea what i could use that i could get in a smaller amount?? Right now they have an outside area i put sand in, but soon winter will be here and they won't be able to use it.
     
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Scratch simply isn't important. It just isn't. It humors the chickens and the owner to seeing them scratching around eating it, but it serves no real purpose, nutritionally speaking. If your chickens are like mine, they love to have me toss a few layer pellets and they go crazy getting them. They do the same thing with tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet corn nubbins, and most other things. A little cracked corn would accomplish the same thing and engage them in scratching around. Again, this is also sold in large quantities, normally. I'd not worry about it.

    As for grit, crushed granite is all it is. If your finding parrot grit, that'll work. As will simply letting the birds pick at a gravel driveway, sand, etc.
     
  3. TheOldHen

    TheOldHen Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 24, 2011
    Green Bay,WI
    Thank you for your help. I am a first timer and trying hard to do it right. My hubby said my problem is that i "read" to much! These are little living animals that i choose to raise, so i want to do it right. Thank you again, you made me feel much better knowing they are getting what they need.
     
  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    If you want to "toss" them something, perhaps a good quality bird seed. Those packages are small. Again, they don't "need" this. It's just something folks "like" to do; watch their chickens scratch about. I toss pellets, if I want to modify their behavior, follow me somewhere, etc.
     
  5. TheOldHen

    TheOldHen Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 24, 2011
    Green Bay,WI
    I have given them good bird seed, but now i am feeding half of the little creatures of the world too! It is OK but the gophers are starting to go in the "hen house". I guess they are "packing it in" knowing winter is on its way. With all your help i can put my "Raising chickens for dummieds" away for the night:D
     
  6. beach livin'

    beach livin' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 21, 2011
    Manteo
    will the chickens get the needed rocks from the ground around them, or must I go and buy special rocks to aid in digestion. I do live on the coast, and we go oyster rakeing in the winter, so can i just use those shells, and make sure they are ground or broken very well.
     
  7. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

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    Aug 20, 2010
    Colmesneil,TX
    beach livin' :

    will the chickens get the needed rocks from the ground around them, or must I go and buy special rocks to aid in digestion. I do live on the coast, and we go oyster rakeing in the winter, so can i just use those shells, and make sure they are ground or broken very well.

    Those shells broken up are great for laying hens. Offer them free choice. Any small gravel/rocks will help them to grind up food. If they have access to actual ground and soil then it's likely that problem is taken care of. The oyster shells are for calcium, something laying hens need lots of.​
     
  8. flockof4

    flockof4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Webster Groves, MO
    If you're worried they're not getting enough grit, all-purpose construction sand works. It comes in 50 lb bags, and if kept dry, it never goes bad. I leave some in a dish in their coop and offer it free choice. As far as scratch, it is totally optional, but a fun treat for the chickens. I use black oil sunflower seeds and toss them a handful once or twice a day. Good luck.
     
  9. terryg

    terryg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 5, 2007
    New England
    I live in New England, where the soil is full of granite grit. I've never had to feed it, but if you don't free-range, or are in another part of the country, grit is important. Pet store grit is fine, as is coarse sand (which also is good to keep your pen well-drained.) As far as scratch grains - I'm getting more and more convinced that this should not be fed. In the past, when chickens free-ranged and ate scraps and buttermilk, corn was an expensive item that a farmer would buy to supplement the flock's diet. In the winter, especially, it provides carbs for heat production. But, that was before commercial laying hen pellets were available. And it was before people kept 3 pet hens in the backyard, who are getting overfed. Fat hens have health problems! Corn is candy. It is better to treat with pumpkin halves. It's better to have a compost area in the chicken run where the hens can scratch and shred and find worms. I talk more about feeding hens here: http://www.hencam.com/henblog/2011/07/thin-shelled-eggs-old-hens-and-the-miracle-diet-cure/
     
  10. ozark_chickies

    ozark_chickies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 19, 2011
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    I free range my older birds, so I don't give them grit. We have penty of gravel and rocks for them to pick up. I do start offering grit to hand raised chicks at 2--3 weeks old, and continue untill they go outside. Once the chicks are in the run, they find thier own grit. I give scratch or cracked corn as a treat to the older birds, a few handfuls a day but my chicks don't get any until they are 5 or 6 weeks old unless they are being raise by a hen. I don't give my hen raised chicks grit, because they are free ranged with thier moms and can find it for thierselves.
     

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