Is scratch bad for chickens?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Kuntry Klucker, Oct 9, 2011.

  1. Kuntry Klucker

    Kuntry Klucker Premium Member

    Jun 9, 2010
    Tennesee Smoky Mts.
    Hi All, [​IMG]

    I am new to chickens raising my first flock.
    I have read both sides of the coin on feeding scratch to chickens.
    At this point I am kind of confused.

    Background on my chickens:
    - they are 23 wks old
    - starting to lay
    - fed 16% layer pellets
    - part time free range flock (basically when I am home)
    - healthy with no illnesses

    My questions are...
    1. Can I feed them scratch?
    2. How bad is scratch for them?
    3. If safe, what quanity is best?

    Thanks [​IMG]
  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Flock Master

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Scratch is just a treat. It contains about 8 % protein, but chicken feed contains 16-20% protein, so it isn't a complete food. You need to feed chickens feed that is appropriate to their age and if they are layers. Scratch can be given up to 10% of their total diet, but they can't live on it only. I just use it to bribe my chickens to come in or go out of an area, or to keep them from being bored. It raises their body temperature so it is best not to give it in very hot weather.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    No, scratch is not bad for chickens. Like anything else, humans, dogs, horses, whatever, if you overdo something it can be bad, but used in moderation, scratch is stuff that makes up a natural part of their diet.

    What you are looking for is a balanced diet that gives them their nutritional needs. Since you free range them, you don't control their diet all that much. They will do a lot more balancing by eating gress and weeds, grass and weed seeds, various creepy crawlies, and whatever flying or hopping things they can catch. How well they balance it depends on the quality of forage. If all they have is a manicured lawn where no weeds are allowed and the grass never goes to seed, then the quality of that forage is not as high as an unmowed pasture with cow poop to scratch through, but it is better than nothing.

    Moderation is the key. You will not harm them in any way giving them scratch as a treat as long as you don't overdo it. Try to give them about what they can clean up in about 10 minutes. They'll enjoy that.

    I would not worry about hot weather all that much. Actually not at all. They naturally eat grass and weed seeds in the middle of summer. That is essentially scratch. As long as you don't overdo it, don't overstress about it. They will be fine.
  4. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Quote:This is an unfortunate myth that is still alive and well on here. Any food raises body temp, some more than others by how fast they're digested, but corn is not unique.

    Some scratch formulas are more nutritious than others; they vary widely. But typically there are no added vitamins or minerals so it's not a complete food.
  5. Kuntry Klucker

    Kuntry Klucker Premium Member

    Jun 9, 2010
    Tennesee Smoky Mts.
    Ok, thank you all so much for the great information. [​IMG]

    The scratch that I purchased is a four grain variety.
    It was highly recommended by the associate who worked
    there that also raised chickens. He said it was good and that
    his chickens just loved it. So I figured that I would give it a try.

    So far the ladies just love it, and get excited when they see me
    coming with the bucket that I carry it in. [​IMG]

    It did not take them long to realize what it was and that it was something
    that they really liked. They learned fast that scratch was good. [​IMG] [​IMG]
  6. artsy1

    artsy1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 5, 2011
    Candy For Chickens ...................yummy:d :d
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2011

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