Ok, wait... so should they be eating scratch?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Breezy_Living, Jun 10, 2011.

  1. Breezy_Living

    Breezy_Living Out Of The Brooder

    May 19, 2011
    Northern California
    We have a great local feed store where I go my chicks and the owner is really nice and knows what he's doing... based on their behavior and eating tendencies he said, "Sounds like they're ready for scratch!" when I went to get MORE food for them (went through a 2.5lb starter bag in 4 days).

    Then I noticed the BYC site said chicken scratch should be used as a treat?!
    The chicks are about 4 weeks old and free-ranged for the first time today and had a great time grabbing all the little pebbles and ants, but I want them to have a well-rounded diet.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2011
  2. CoyoteMagic

    CoyoteMagic RIP ?-2014

    No scratch. Starter or Flock Raiser only
  3. Breezy_Living

    Breezy_Living Out Of The Brooder

    May 19, 2011
    Northern California
    So now that I just bought a 25lb-ish bag of scratch, what do I do?

    I trusted that this owner knew what he was recommending since he's the place for chicks every year and comes highly rated, but I don't doubted what BYC members have to say.
    *sigh* I feel like a mother hen, especially since I've constantly doting on the little ladies and now I feel like I just bought them 4 months worth of Taco Bell. [​IMG]
  4. CoyoteMagic

    CoyoteMagic RIP ?-2014

    just keep it in something to keep the critters out of it. when they get bigger you can feed them a handful a day as a treat. Bigger as in several months old
  5. stcroixusvi

    stcroixusvi Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 5, 2011
    Western NC
    My Coop
    Why no scratch? I have been giving mine scratch as a treat and they are 4 weeks old - they also get sand. They don't eat the big pieces, and chip away at some of the larger grains.
  6. JodyJo

    JodyJo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 27, 2010
    scratch as a treat only....doesn't have the nutrients they need as actual food...I thought the same thing when I raised my roos last year, now I know better for my girls...I posted a recipe for a seed bell you can make out of the scratch, you can hang it from the coop and let them play with it...if you want the recipe let me know.
  7. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    As long as they have access to grit, it won't hurt them as a treat (small amounts), although mine wouldn't touch it until they were about 10 weeks. Look at the label of whatever you buy for your birds. Most commercially sold scratches have maybe 9 or 10% protein. Chick starter probably has double that, which is why you don't want to feed them much scratch. Just like it being fine to have a candy bar or chips as a treat, but you don't want your kids living on that stuff. I've read (here on BYC) of folks who mix their own version of "scratch" that is high in protein and other needed nutrients. But that's not the stuff you'll find in most feed stores...

    ETA: Same as things like Flock Block (which you'll eventually find or hear about). Some use them as food, but they only have maybe 10% protein vs. 16% or more in layer feed, and 20% or more in Flock Raiser feed. Read those labels!
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2011
  8. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Most scratch has only about 8% protein (though some are really game bird feeds like the one I use, which is 12% protein and contains 11 grains). Babies are growing rapidly and need higher protein, 18%-24%, so when you give them scratch, that lowers their nutrition levels too much.

    I've seen youngsters raised on scratch only. They were terribly stunted. It's just not enough nutrition for rapidly growing chicks.
  9. newham0614

    newham0614 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2010
    I've read on here that it raises the body temp. Would be better in the winter as a treat.
  10. BoltonChicken

    BoltonChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2011
    Bolton, Mississippi
    I've read on here that it raises the body temp. Would be better in the winter as a treat.

    That is not really correct. It does not raise body temperature of chickens. It CAN increase body fat, but thats about it.
    Scratch should be used as a treat only. It is OK to use with little ones, say four weeks or older, but only if they have access to sand/gravel for
    their craw. They are not really into it until they get older.​
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2011

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