Scratch verses mealworms

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by JULIE L CORWIN, Apr 3, 2018.


    JULIE L CORWIN In the Brooder

    May 17, 2017
    I know that scratch is a treat. It can make a chicken fat and warms them up.
    Meal worms I think is a treat also and made mostly out of protien. Works on chickens feathers and helps egg production and during molting. So here is my question. Can meal worms heat a chicken up as scratch does. I feed scratch in winter. Don't try to feed in summer because of the hot weather. Do meal worms make a chicken fat as scratch does?. I also feed veggies to chickens plus their regular feed. I know the 10 percent. So how do you figure that out?. I have 16 chickens and a 3 gallon feeder.
    Thank you for your time
  2. Chickassan

    Chickassan Wattle Fondler

    Scratch dosen't heat up a chicken and too much of anything will make them fat lol! For figuring out how much you need id just go with the two handfuls method since it isn't super important that everyone gets the "right" amount just toss two handfuls.:)
  3. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Free Ranging

    Hi. :frow

    ONE of the biggest MYTH'S ever in chicken history! :gig

    Corn does NOT keep a chicken warm OR make them fat. :old

    Chicken feed is usually made out of mostly corn.

    Corn is about 7% protein. But it doesn't have the added vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that a formulated ration does. It is however highly palatable, meaning tasty. A lot like a candy bar or chips. I love to eat them, and I can eat until I fill up on them. Sometimes I eat more than I need just because it's so tasty. So I might get fat, and I won't be as healthy as if I ate something nutritious. But NORMALLY they stop when they are full... and have met their caloric need for the day.

    Keeping a chicken warm.... is a byproduct of the chicken staying alive and it creates it's OWN warmth... using calories. A calorie is a calorie is a calorie whether it came from corn, chicken, peas, lettuce, a hunk of fat or so on.

    It's true meal worms are high in protein. But they are also VERY high in fat and should still be used ONLY as a treat...

    Alternatively to either meal worms or corn... you could feed something other than layer. ;)

    I feed Purina Flock Raiser... which has 20% protein, and about 1% calcium. I provide oyster shell on the side for layers. This is for my broody's, my molting hens, my chicks, my roosters, and my layers.

    IF I wan't MORE protein still... I'd go with an unmedicated chick starter (22%). Or I use a 30% protein turkey starter and mix it with my usual ration in the right amount to achieve the protein level I am aiming for. Which by the way... higher (22%) protein has been shown to give better hatch rates in addition to all the benefits you already mention. :pop

    To sum it up... anything in excess is not good for your birds. Whether that is corn, meal worms, calcium and even protein. Calcium above 3% has shown that it *can* (doesn't mean will) cause gout and kidney failure, in birds not in lay IF fed long term. Excess protein (30%+ though some will argue must be above 45) can also cause a different type of gout and kidney failure long term. Most people will never know these conditions exist unless they have a necropsy done.

    Also note that excess protein is excreted unprocessed as extra smelly and expensive waste. :sick

    I do love live meal worms as a treat. :thumbsup

    Please, if you don't believe me about corn JUST being a calorie... open a science book. :old :cool: Note protein and carbohydrates both have 4 calories per gram and fat has 9. I will choose protein over carbs for nutritional purposes.

    A few other sources you might consider as a good protein snack... scrambled eggs are a hit in addition to being a good source of selenium. And peas have around 22% protein if I remember correctly. Left over meat from you kitchen... chicken, beef, fish, tofu, they love it all. I rinse if it's salty. Though I will note that animal and vegetable protein are not created equal in all ways. It's the amino acids in the animal protein that are important. Most our feeds are vegetarian and so have the amino acids added in to meet the need of the chickens. But as a treat, shouldn't have much impact and I think the chooks do enjoy variety.

    Hope this was helpful and nothing came off as snarky. :thumbsup
  4. jllracer55

    jllracer55 Chirping

    May 23, 2017
    So stupid question time.. but is there anything wrong with just having a layer feed diet with veggie treats and or scratch / meal worms once in a while? This won't lead to the gout and kidney problems giving them too much layer feed will it?
  5. GC-Raptor

    GC-Raptor Crowing

    Jul 26, 2016
    Connecticut, U.S.A.
    My 2 year old hens have had unlimited layers feed sence 18 weeks with scratch grains or mixed bird seed as treats daily. GC
  6. Gspsaku

    Gspsaku In the Brooder

    Mar 22, 2018
    For the most part, you are on the money but also posted a few things that are either completely inaccurate or could easily be interpreted the wrong way. I highlighted some key points in bold.

    First off, I will address the later points:
    1. It (a chicken) creates it's OWN warmth... using calories. A calorie is a calorie is a calorie:
    - It's a fact that food, itself, does not create heat. The chicken's (or animal's) body creates heat through the metabolic process using calories so a calorie/kcal is the same value regardless of where you get it from. I kcal from corn is the same as a kcal from pellets or wheat or peas. But that also means more calories from any source still means more calories and this is where corn comes in.

    2. Corn does NOT make them fat:
    - Feeding all corn vs a 16 or 18% protein pellet/crumble diet and you will see the difference. Not only is corn easier for chickens to digest, meaning it gets converted into usable energy fastest for chickens compared to other grains, it also has the highest available energy per lb, which we use calories/kcal as the unit of measurement of for energy.
    Corn has 1510-1530 kcal/lb.
    16% protein pellet/crumble/mash contains 1210-1240 kcal/lb.
    20% protein pellet/crumble/mash contains just 1290-1320 kcal/lb

    As you have noted, a simple bio course here and there and you should know about how the body works and what happens to unused calories; they turn into fat which in turn is used to heat up the body and/or keep the body warm. You even mentioned eating a bunch of high calorie food such as junk food items like candy bars will make you fat. There's a reason for it; it's because it's small yet contains a high amount of calories.

    3. NORMALLY they stop when they are full... and have met their caloric need for the day.
    - Unlike humans, animals do not know when they have met their caloric need. They don't have a caloric chart or recommended caloric intake advised to them by other chicken scientists and they certainly don't understand what we tell them :). Heck, as humans, without a chart or being told, our body does not tell us to stop when we have met our caloric need for the day. We, much like chicks and any other animal, simply eat until we have had their fill. It doesn't matter if it is pellets or corn so if a chicken consumed. Using the widely accepted 1/4 lb of feed a day, in a month a hen will have consumed about 7.5lbs of feed. This is where the difference in calories comes into play.

    7.5lbs of corn = 11,400 kcalories
    7.5lbs of 16% = 9,188 kcalories

    So over the course of a month, a hen fed only on corn consumes over 2,200 more Calories than a hen on 16% feed and that's key to this whole "don't feed too much corn or your chickens will get fat" conversation. The chicken does not know it has eaten taken in more calories, it does not know it needs to "run", "scratch", and "fly" more to lose the excess calories. And we all knows what happens to unused calories and that's why feeding alot of corn, or even solely corn, will end up making a chicken fatter, which will help them retain their body temperature better which ends up keeping them warmer.

    Outside of a few keypoints, very good post
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    This a very good break down of what goes on. My birds do regulate feed intake based on its nutrient density, but the process is sloppy where birds can still still have weight issues. When they do adjust activity levels, it is more often not, down to conserve energy when energy budget is low. That is really easy to see during winter.
    EggSighted4Life likes this.
  8. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Free Ranging

    There is NO stupid question really.

    No there is NOTHING wrong with a LAYER feed diet and treats fed in moderation. And please don't let people fear monger you into believing that layer is bad... those who do are only focusing on the points in the studies they wish to instead of the WHOLE picture.

    The ones who are *most* likely to have kidney issues will be the ones who are predisposed to it AND often are also fed a high treat content. Even among flocks who are fed the SAME exact thing, all genetics are individual even if from the same parents. Immunity and therefor even this type of thing can vary greatly.

    While it may be preferred by some to switch to the higher protein lower calcium feed during molt... LOTS of people never do any changing and still have even roosters eating it live for a LONG time with no known health issues. And just remember that a lot of the veggies really are just a treat and don't actually add nutritional value since they are mostly water. Still a great source of bonding and enrichment in my experience. :)

    I hope you are enjoying BYC so far! :frow

    I love your attention to detail! :highfive:

    Somewhere volume comes into play as far as when the birds quit eating. And you are correct they don't KNOW when they have met their caloric need for the day. :p And for me... being an addict.. :oops: even when my body DOES tell me I have had enough (naturally from being full like I think the crop will fill up. Most birds don't have "issues"), my mind doesn't listen and I continue to gorge. Even though I feed 20% protein... they have to get their other 2-3% calcium from the separate oyster shell... Which is not included in the pound for pound conversion that you provided. So maybe my birds aren't eating a whole 1/4 # of feed... well, I KNOW they don't. It's about .18-.20# Yes that 1/4 # recommendation might bring my actual calorie consumption more in line with the 16% ers. And also means... my feed consumption level may not be accurately assessed previously when being compared to someone who feed layer. Something I've recently been dissecting in my mind. :cool:

    Let me rephrase... Corn does not make birds fat WHEN part of a balanced diet. ;) Corn doesn't make birds fat any more than bread, pasta, or rice makes people fat. :confused:

    Thanks for the gentle, fun, and informative corrections to my statements! I love being a part of a wonderful and helpful community. And suspect you are well on your way to being a respected, productive, and appreciated member of BYC! :thumbsup
    Gspsaku likes this.
  9. Gspsaku

    Gspsaku In the Brooder

    Mar 22, 2018
    Thanks. I've always been a pigeon fancier but did raise chickens back in Asia but none here in American. Animal husbandry is pretty similar across the board regardless of the animal so I hope breeding and raising pigeons will help me go far in terms of helping my parents tend to their new chicken flock.

    Here's a short video of my portable kit of pigeons

    EggSighted4Life likes this.
  10. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Free Ranging

    That was fantastic fun to watch! :pop

    Hope you like here int he states. :hugs

    Hope I see you putting info out on some sprouting/fodder nutrient content things... and the fermented feed rage. :lol:
    Gspsaku likes this.

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