Different Galliformes have different feeding strategies and consequently divergent morphology of feet and bills. In the following thread, I'll be discussing "scratch grain" it's attributes in poultry management as well as its nutritional inadequacies/ deficiencies based upon common grains used in its composition. To be sure, scratch grain was all that was available to feed to poultry for the entire 19th and more than half of the 20th centuries. There was no such thing as processed feed. It hadn't been invented yet and even once it had, poultry were the last to get their processed feed because- well because poultry had done very well for close to 8000 years on one sort of scratch grain or another. Big production facilities were the first to put processed utility feeds to use and this advance in animal nutrition benifited poultry science enormously. From the late 1950's on there was an international race to increase poultry production as a burgeoning population came to be able to afford to have meat in their weekly diet . Let's not forget the Great Depression as a starting point for modern poultry farming as it was this form of nutrition that led the way for feeding this great nation in its aftermath. It was also poultry farming responsible for feeding the majority of families during WWII. Heirloom and Cultural Heritage Breeds were select bred to thrive on readily affordable scratch grain and those that maintained them learned about how to ameliorate that relatively low nutrition by free ranging during those seasons that that was feasible and with supplementation from the processing of meat animals. Modern utility breeds did not exist until very recently and they were select bred to thrive in close confinement and on feeds that were processed from biproducts of grain farming and commercial meat production. There was until a few decades ago, no such thing as inexpensive soy or alfalfa meal available for livestock feed. Alfalfa came first in the late 50'. Soy was being farmed in the USA since the 1920's but its uses were primarily for human use. Biproducts of soybean used in other applications were eventually developed into livestock feed with increasing regularity. Soybean meal became primary food for livestock in the late 70's. It was not of such and enormously significant ingredient in poultry feed until the mid 1980's when animal protein was replaced with soy. Likewise, soy began to replace fish meal and bone meal in gamebird feed in the 1980's and 1990's when smaller high quality companies like Mazuri were bought up by enormous high quantity corporations like Purina. Round up ready crops were not licensed for use in our feedchain- that is legally fed to livestock species until the 21'st century. I'm jumping way ahead here and topic is scratch grain. There is a great deal of misinformation about scratch grain, which is understandable given the ready access to commercial soft feeds that are completely formulated with vitamins and minerals, amino acids and probiotics that grains are well-known to be deficient in. It is of course in the interests of industrial feed manufacturers to sell more rather than less of their product. Feeding scratch grain fills up the birds crops leaving less room for the highly efficient, if too rapidly digested soft feeds. Only the mindful poultier is going to realise this and as so many are on very frugal budgets we need to help more backyard poultry affecianados mindful poultiers and sustainable agriculturists make more informed decisions about affordable, feasible, ethical, sustainable poultry nutrition. Along those same lines we have the peafowl and ornamental pheasant and gamebird hobbyists. The discipline of aviculture was historically, from antiquity forward, was an activty of only the most priviledged classes. It was not until the late 1970's that cage bird aviculture came to exist in any truly substantial numbers. Before the 1970's diets for cage bird aviculture consisted entirely of what the aviculturist could afford to provide. Subsequently, only those species that could survive and even thrive on hemp seed and white millet, paddy- were kept in any large numbers at all. The budgie, the rice finch, the canary. It wasn't until the 1980's that aviculture of "ornamental gamebirds" came to take hold in the middle classes. Again, only those species that could subsist on foods of relatively low nutrition were maintained in any number. Those species were adapted to live at least seasonally on the nutritious fresh seeds of grasses like bamboo, millet and broom. Captive birds adapted to life on corn and hemp, millet and paddy. These species that were also (generally) at least seasonally folivorous, included the Barbary Partridge, the Golden and Silver Pheasant, the Indian Peafowl and the Pharaoh Quail. In the mid 1980's alfalfa finally became affordable for gamebird breeders and species like tragopans, monals and eared pheasants, bobwhites, wild turkeys, valley quail- species that had hitherto not fared well on lower protein ( all seed diets) with vastly inferior amino acid profiles- - came to exist in sufficient numbers that they were available on the open market... There had been subtropical, largely insectivorous species being raised in modest numbers by the avicultural masters like Delacour and Sivelle, Denton and Hinkle- Heckmann- all along, but only because they knew how to feed them- how to supplement their diets with ant nests, custards and so on. Read the old books- raw ground meat was the first ingredient for successful breeding of peacock-pheasants, argus, firebacks and the like. These species were also maintained successfully on the first generations of game bird feeds because at that time, there was still fish and bone meal mixed into them. That ended in the mid 90's when big quantity feed corporations saved money and increased their profit margins by replacing the expensive animal protein and bone meal with different forms of soybean meal that had never existed before. All that time, from the beginning of aviculture scratch grain/ seed mixtures provided management food- substantial % of entire rations every single day and for most species. As more kinds of seeds and grains became available, wild bird seed came to exist and a whole new industry was born. Parrot feed came to exist as well. Aviculturists and show breeder poutiers were utilising these more nutritiously valuable and expensive seed mixtures to supplement their scratch grain. People were not attempting to raise rare, subtropical species like commercial chickens. There was no competition as there is today where quantity beats out quality. There was no such thing as junk birds flooding a free market based on the whims of devaluation. I'd like to cover three different related topics here all involved with flock management.. Let me preface these inter-related subjects with the following fact. There is a major difference between maintenance rations and management fare. Maintenance rations provide the entire nutritional spectrum - the near-complete range of nutrients required for optimal nutrition. Soft feeds will ostensibly provide everything required of acutely domesticate production strains of domestic poultry. They are barely scraping by nutritionally for wild species, save those aforementioned species that have a diet very like the Red Junglefowl- those that can subsist on a seed/grain/vegetable based diet. Breeding stock of valuable chicken breeds are in the same boat. Management fare provides behavioral enrichment, supplement dietary fibre, satiation as well as ameliorate maintenance rations with micro-nutrients. None of the fowl, not waterfowl nor landfowl -no captive fowl should ever be fed scratch grain as a maintenance ration on its own- all by itself- to the exclusion of maintenance rations. Unless of course the birds are free-ranging most of the day. Nevertheless, there is a great deal of value in scratch grain and it deserves to be deconstructed so that people might make more informed decisions about its uses, especially those managers that wish to practice sustainable agriculture and end the cycle of disease and infection that plagues commercial flocks those viruses and bacteria gaining a major footprint in backyard flocks maintained like intensively farmed populations. Despite its recently derived ill reputation from some hobbyists, Scratch Grain, when used appropriately, can be an invaluable tool in avian husbandry. Three Topics: A. The Role of Optimal Foraging Theory in nature as it relates to the hard-wiring of captive wild species, domestic mutations of those wild species and domestic species themselves. B. The Role of Specialised Morphological Adaptation in nature as it relates to the manner in which different species of fowl procure nourishment as it relates to behavioral enrichment and preventing and/or ending the development of destructive behaviors; i.e. egg-eating, feather picking, manure ingestion C. Nutritional Values of different grains commonly used in scratch grain; Nutritional Values of other, ostensibly locally farmed crops which can greatly ameliorate the diets of captive birds, adding to the nutritional value of a diet composed of a high % of scratch grain and finally, some physiological reasons that scratch grain proves helpful in cutting down on feed costs and management. I'll also be describing how to supplement this management feed efficiently without breaking the bank. OPTIMAL FORAGING THEORY No two species share identical foraging behaviors or eat exactly the same foods. Even closely related species may diverge by a surprisingly large margin. There may be nothing superficially apparent about the species that might distinguish them from one another so far as foraging behavior is concerned.