Scratch for main source of Feed?


10 Years
Mar 26, 2009
Southern Utah
I couple months ago I had my FIL bring home a bag of chicken feed. When he dropped it off, he said its what the recommended. When I opened the bag I was shocked to see scratch. For a week my chickens had to have scratch as their food until I could get back to the store. While my chickens love scratch they did not like it for feed. So I went and got my layer mash and mixed it up with the scratch. Anyways today while at the feed store (IFA) I asked about a all purpose feed. The clerk said, "Scratch" its the best. I said, "NO" and just got my 50lb bag of layer mash. But it has me wondering....can/do you feed your chickens scratch as feed??
Just like a person could serve their kids donuts, candy bars and potato chips for every could be done, but isn't wise and isn't in the best interest of the kids.
There is too much fat and not enough protein and calcium for egg layers in scratch. It's OK for treats, but not for a steady diet.

Nope - not a good idea. It doesn't contain the proper amount of nutrients that chickens need. Like the previous poster said, it's like feeding your kids nothing but donuts... and maybe white bread... all the time.

I've been amazed, though, at how many people at feed stores recommend scratch as a major source of a chicken's diet. The feed store near me recommended 50% scratch, 50% layer feed. Fortunately, all of you great people here set me straight!
I mix a little in with my layena. But as it's already been said would you feed your kids donuts, & candy for their main food source? Scratch, my understanding is more of a treat, and makes for fatty chickens. ?

So I guess you COULD make it their only food source, but I wouldn't. I want healthy meaty chickens, not fatty dumpy ones, lol!
Im still amazed at the mis-information about scratch. Most scratch is cracked corn and other grains. What do you think laying mash, or laying pellets is??? Its ground up grains, corn, oats, soybean meal, just like scratch. It has added vitamins and minerals, most importantly minerals such as calcium.
Scratch is perfectly fine to feed, especially if your birds are allowed to free range to balance their grains with bugs and all the other stuff they love out there. A very large part of my birds diet is scratch, which I make up myself. Oats, wild bird seed, millet, sunflower seeds. I dont add cracked corn because LAYER RATION IS FULL OF CORN. I keep layer mash all the time for them, but since they free range, and love the scratch mix I make, they dont eat much of it.

And Im getting more eggs each day that I could possibly imagine.
I have that same question as well, when I was young we never feed anything else except what we call scrath now and cooked rice to the older chickens.

Is scratch bad for birds? Wouldn't the birds eat the same things in the wild?
The chickens most of us have aren't "wild" chickens, they are domesticated animals bred by people with the intent to modify certain characteristics, who probably wouldn't make it one night out in "the wild." I could feed my purebred dog road kill, never groom or clean it, and it would probably be dead in a few months. Feed has a lot of valuable nutrients and diet supplements that plain scratch can't give them. It's a personal choice, but I want the healthiest hens I can have, so scratch is just a treat for them.
You could take bags of scratch, or make your own to whats available, add a good vitamin/mineral supplement such as Calf Manna, some soybean meal if you wanted more protein, add oyster shell, and voila!!! You have a perfectly good layer mix.

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