How old to feed scratch?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by nharbison0722, Aug 25, 2016.

  1. nharbison0722

    nharbison0722 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 26, 2016
    Hi everyone! Hope all is well in the BYC world! Was wondering how old chickens need to be before feeding scratch? The girls I have outside are a little over 3 months old and I've been throwing small amounts of scratch out for them to dig around and eat. Is that ok? Thanks for your help. Also, since they are outside, do I need to provide chick grit or do they get that from the ground? I don't notice any small sized stone "grit" in the dirt, but I'm sure there is some.
    Thanks again!
    PS..... They do have access to a sandbox, so don't know if that would qualify as some form of grit as the sand in the box is super fine.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016
  2. gmatson

    gmatson Chillin' With My Peeps

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    At 3 months old I believe your chickens are old enough to have scratch but I have always heard not to give them to much scratch in the summer because it can cause your chickens to over heat.
     
  3. nharbison0722

    nharbison0722 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 26, 2016
    Great, thanks for the input! I've only given it to them when the temps were lower here in Texas. If it's over 90, I won't do it.
     
  4. losttexan

    losttexan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Three months is by far old enough to have scratch. Remember, momma broody often has the chicks out and scratching around in the dirt (where they will naturally pick up grit) at three days.
    There is not a rigid age requirement, but before chicks eat anything other than commercial feed and baby treats, they will need access to grit. My guess is, being outside, they have been picking up plenty through natural foraging (I bet you they've been eating bugs and small creatures you don't know about). If you are worried, buy some commercially-available chick grit (the small stuff) and sprinkle it on their feed for a couple of days. They don't need a lot.
    As far as scratch and heat generation - yes, some folks in colder temps throw a bit of scratch before bedtime to keep some internal warmth going, but it is not going to cause an otherwise-fine bird to overheat. The concern with scratch is to not let it take up more than roughly 10% of their caloric intake, because they need to be getting those calories from protein (especially true for chicks).
     
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  5. nharbison0722

    nharbison0722 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 26, 2016
    Awesome! Thanks for the info! I greatly appreciate it!
     

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