Question about scratch, grains & body temp.

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by dulcimer lady, Apr 3, 2012.

  1. dulcimer lady

    dulcimer lady Songster

    Apr 22, 2010
    I have always been told that feeding grains to chickens raises their body temperature. So I've always been mindful of giving more scratch in the cold months and less during the hot months. How many of you follow this same rule of thumb? I read a blog tonight that said they had taken to giving oats to their chickens with their feed and it increases egg production but they didn't know why. Then I realized it was an old blog post written during cold winter weather.

    For the warm months I like to make homemade yogurt and freeze it in ice cube trays (you have to spray them with cooking spray first) and give the frozen cubes to the chickens for a treat.

    How careful should we be with grains in hot weather? Or does it really matter so much and it's ok to continue grains throughout the warm months?

  2. stone_family3

    stone_family3 Songster

    Apr 11, 2011
    I'd be curious about that, I would think giving them extra scratch would cause them to move more thus raising their body heat.
  3. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

    Aug 13, 2007
    North/Central Florida
    There's no truth to it at all. It's a long-standing misunderstanding of what is meant by corn (or other grains) being a "hot feed."

    All that it means is that grain has a lot of easily digestible carbohydrates. This is why some form of grain or grain product comprise the bulk of virtually all poultry feeds because easily digestible carbohydrates is what they need to provide the bulk of their daily calories. In the proper proportions with other feed components of course.

    The reason why you want to feed only minimal scratch grains in the summer time has nothing to do with their body heat and much to do with their appetites. Chickens are just like people in one regard in that when the weather is hot our appetites decrease. When the weather is cold our hunger increases. Most chicken layer feeds are fairly minimal in their protein contents so if you're feeding grains in addition to their balanced rations at a time when they are not as hungry as they would be when the weather is cooler they may well not consume enough balanced protein to lay at their best.

    How much grain you should feed depends on several factors. One is if they are free-ranging in an area that provides much in the way of bugs, tasty greens, and so on. If they are you can feed more grain because they're finding plenty of what they need while foraging. If they aren't then less grain, more balanced ration. Also, the protein content of their layer feed is important. The typical lay ration is only in the 15-16% balanced protein range. Fairly minimal. Wouldn't take much unbalanced grain supplementing to throw it out of whack so that they don't lay as well as they might otherwise. In that case don't give more than half a handful of grain per bird, per day preferably in the morning. They need to go to roost with a crop full of balanced ration because that's when they will most need the protein while they are building their eggs.

    If your lay ration is in the 17-18% range you can feed more grain. If it's over 18% you can be fairly liberal about it if you want to.

    Chickens need to eat a balanced diet just like people do. The more out of balance theirs is the more out of whack their performance may become. Nothing to do with their body heat, but much to do with the quality of their nutrient intake.
    2 people like this.
  4. dulcimer lady

    dulcimer lady Songster

    Apr 22, 2010
    Thank you for this - very informative!

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