Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by juliacale, Oct 25, 2007.

  1. juliacale

    juliacale In the Brooder

    Oct 21, 2007
    The guy at the feed store told me I could feed my free ranging chickens ONLY scratch. In other words, scratch would suffice and they need nothing else.


    My chickens 'free range' in a 20' x 20' pen. Its attached to their coop so they go out there whenever they want.
  2. Cuban Longtails

    Cuban Longtails Flock Mistress

    Sep 20, 2007
    Northeast Texas
    I disagree very much! It'd be different if they were free ranging outside of a pen all day, but just scratch? That's like feeding your kids only pizza, chips & carbonated drinks! Empty, empty calories.

    Feed store guys think they know everything, just 'cause they work in a feed store.. jeez... [​IMG]
  3. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    There is a mix of grains called scratch grains and there is the cracked corn that some people refer to as 'scratch'. If you mean cracked corn that has very little nutritional value and is like feeding your chickens a lot of chicken candy every day. I only give it in the winter when they need the extra heat their body generates while trying to digest it.

    Even free ranging and getting lots of bugs and worms and crickets and grass, etc, I give my chickens mixed grains, a grower/finisher feed, laying feed available for those laying, but I don't consider that their basic diet. They gets tons of whole grain breads, vegetables, boiled eggs, cooked rice, oats, yogurt - a huge and varied diet.

    Remember this great nutrition going in means great eggs coming out.
  4. arlee453

    arlee453 Songster

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    While free range chickens will do a good job of eating a wide variety of food, I'd not rely on scratch to be their 'staple' diet. I use scratch as a treat only, not as a staple part of their diet. Scratch feed is like us eating candy all day long - not very nutritionally complete.

    Chicks under laying age should be fed a starter chick feed, and granite/chick grit if they are getting any other type of feed in addition to the starter. If they free range, they may get plenty of grit from the environment, but I offer grit as well, as it is cheap and goes a long way.

    Laying hens should be fed a layer pellet along with free choice calcium/layer grit like oyster shells, etc. Free rangers may not eat a lot of grit, but I'd err on the side of caution and have it available for them.

    Meat chickens should be fed a grower/finisher feed after the chick starter, as per the manufacturer's recommendations.

    Anyone else have another take on this one?

    PS - I'd take ANY advice gotten in a feed store or pet store with a HUGE grain of salt. They are interested in selling products, not necessarily truly educated about what they are selling. I could go on all day about the just plain old ignorance that you get in pet stores about small pets like guinea pigs...same holds true for feed stores too. Also, what will keep an aminal alive is not necessarily the BEST nutrition for them. I could survive very nicely for a long time on nothing but sweet tea and french fries, but after a time I would not be a very healthy person.

    PSS - OK, last edit... please don't consider a 20x20' pen 'free ranging'. While that is a good size for exercising your chickens, depending on how many you have, they will very quickly eat anything of nutritional value. That size of pen will not allow the variety that chickens need to be healthy. I know my girls totally cleaned out a 8x8 pen in about 2 weeks down to the bare ground.

    My chicken yard area is 20x80 and I don't consider them free ranging at all. They do have grass and bugs, but they don't have a huge variety of plants, etc, and the longer they graze out there, the less there will be. I'd be surprized if my 8 girls don't have the ground pretty much bare by spring.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2007
  5. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    Chalk another hit up for the feedstore personnel! [​IMG] No, scratch is candy, although some feed the roosters scratch or corn only because, hey, basically, they dont care about the rooster's health. They need much more protein and other vitamins and minerals than scratch provides. Not all scratch is created equal, however. I have a wonderful 5 grain one with almost no corn that is 13% protein by itself, about 5% higher than most scratch.
    A general purpose poultry feed, layer feed or whatever is appropriate for the age and function of the birds you own is much better than scratch.
  6. Pine Grove

    Pine Grove Songster

    Jul 18, 2007
    Lakeland, Ga
    Bluebonnet and FRM makes a scratch that is a complete feed 16% protein, So Speckledhen is right, All scratch feeds are not equal, Same with Layer/Grower feeds, Some are just floor sweepings made into pellets or crumbles
  7. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    So, to be called a complete feed, do those scratch mixes have vitamins and minerals added and have the correct amino acid profiles? I haven't heard of them, so know nothing about them. Other than Purina, most chicken feed seems to be some what regional.

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