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How much "scratch" should I feed my chickens?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by rhschulz2000, Sep 28, 2012.

  1. rhschulz2000

    rhschulz2000 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have 9 Plymouth Rock Hens and 1 rooster. They are all approximately 7 months old and the hens are laying. They have constant access to a 18% layer ration and free-range. I have been giving them one cup of scratch in the morning when I let them out of the coop and then another cup at night. Is this too much, not enough? Thanks for any thoughts you have. Bob
     
  2. janinepeters

    janinepeters Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds like they free range, and if so, they have access to bugs, and can probably make up for a lack of protein in scratch by foraging. But just for good measure, I like to make sure not to over-do it on low protein foods like scratch, so instead of plain scratch, I give 1/3 scratch, 1/3 birdseed (containing a good amount of hulled or whole black oil sunflower seed, and 1/3 dried mealworms. Mine also get some free ranging time as well as access to a bunch of compost bins. And for a flock of 10 large fowl birds, about 2 cups/day of that mixture is exactly what I'd give.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2012
  3. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    You would want to give them no more than 10% of the diet.
    So for every pound of feed they get you can give them 1 to 1.6 ounces of scratch grain.

    Chris
     
  4. Red Barn Farms

    Red Barn Farms ~Friendly Fowl~

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    Scratch grains are basically starch if I've read correctly. It is very low on protein. It contains a lot of corn depending on the brand. It should only be fed as a supplement to their regular diet. Therefore it is not a complete food. Chickens will require it more in the winter as it will help provide much needed extra warmth. Personally we do not feed scratch grains in the summer. Our flock free ranges much of the day and get protein from flockraiser feed, bugs, etc. We only provide scratch grains in the winter. Normally we'll throw a few handfuls on the ground for the flock each morning.
     
  5. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    Quote: Since scratch is mostly corn it will not keep them "warm".

    Chris
     
  6. Achickenwrangler#1

    Achickenwrangler#1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chickens require more food in the winter because there isn't as much else to eat...bugs and grasses, I think of corn like pasta, a Carb with low nutritional value..now everybody needs carbs, just not the mainstay of your diet, eating more of it won't help. I'm planting my winter rye and wheat now. They can also have meat based dog food, as well as animal fat and scraps.
     
  7. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Bob, I think the amount you are giving is fine. I don't really measure what I give mine (usually give it in the afternoon), but I think I give at least that amount. If they look healthy & are laying well, you should be OK! Chicken keeping is not necessarily as complicated as some make it out to be. Good luck!
     
  8. brimjohnson

    brimjohnson Out Of The Brooder

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    I give my flock some scratch to eat at night right before bed time only in the winter. I've heard that it is more work to digest so therefor it helps keep them a little warmer at night in the winter months.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. Red Barn Farms

    Red Barn Farms ~Friendly Fowl~

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    Thanks again Chris, this is my second post where you have clarified the fact about corn. I'm just stating the fact about corn from several sources I've read on the Internet.


    4. Feed them corn in the evening to keep them warm all night.

    Giving your chickens a nice feeding of cracked corn before bed gives them something to digest during the night, keeping them warmer. And they love it, and who doesn't deserve a little extra niceness during a long, cold winter?


    http://smallfarm.about.com/od/chickens/tp/Top-10-Tips-For-Keeping-Chickens-In-Winter.htm



    Mixed corn is usually 80 to 90% wheat and 10 to 20% maize. It is useful as a scratch feed, it keeps hens active, scratching around looking for it but should only be considered a treat. A handful per hen thrown late afternoon helps them to have a full crop overnight.
    The maize (yellow in colour) is very fattening but can be useful during very cold weather to help your hens keep warm – I increase my girls’ ration of corn when it is cold over the winter, after they have finished moulting (they need lots of protein during the moult) since they are not laying eggs and need a little extra fat to burn in order to keep warm.
    http://keeping-chickens.me.uk/getting-started/chicken-feed
    The corn will help their metabolisms keep them warmer

    https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups=#!topic/urban-chicken-experiment/VAK6OJfvUTc

    and there are many, many others.

     
  10. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    Just a note, try to find information from people with a PhD in livestock nutrition then you will find the truth.
    I you do a search right here on BYC you will find tons of posts that states that corn will not make livestock/chicken hot. Look for posts by Lazy J Farms and Feed he has a PhD in Livestock Nutrition.

    Quote: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/537979/corn-and-their-body-temp

    Here is a article put out for Beef Cattle but works the same with poultry.

    Quote: http://beef.osu.edu/library/heat.html
    Producers sometimes talk about "hot" feeds and "cool" feeds. We must discern whether the discussion is about energy content or actual heat production. Corn and other concentrates are sometimes called "hot" feeds. This is in reference to their higher energy content compared to hay or straw (cool feeds). However, corn and other concentrates contribute less to the heat of fermentation or digestion than hay. Therefore cattle actually produce less actual heat when consuming corn than when consuming hay. Further increasing the concentrate portion of a feedlot finishing diet may lead to acidosis problems. One option is to feed more frequently so as to keep the feed fresher (especially silage) and to feed a greater part the diet in the evening rather than in the morning. Similarly high quality forage produces less heat of fermentation than low quality forage. This might be another argument for moving cattle to higher quality pasture or moving more frequently through paddocks.

    Good Luck,

    Chris
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2012

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