Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Bantimna, Dec 29, 2009.

  1. Bantimna

    Bantimna Songster

    Sep 29, 2009
    South Africa
    I would like to know diffrent peoples opinoin on scratch.


  2. rdranch

    rdranch Songster

    Apr 13, 2007
    Well first, HELLO from the other side of the world!

    With our first flock it was given daily as a treat and used as a training tool. Mainly to come back to the run for the day and to get them out of the run to free range.
    That flock is now retired (they are almost three years old and don't lay currently). I am hoping that they will start again come spring.

    As for new flock they only get scratch on cold mornings and in the evening if I get out there in time before they roost. As for their treats it's mainly sprouts and greens I am growing in the house. There is nothing green outside as we are in the middle of winter and more often than not the ground is covered in snow.

    This being our second flock I am focusing on them eating layer feed as the primary food source and limiting treats that are not very nutritious. After getting on the scale the other day I should be following that advice myslef.[​IMG]
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2009
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Quote:I'll try to be somewhat nice. No promises though.

    Scratch is grains, usually heavy in corn, used to feed chickens. I personally do not feed it. They get plenty of other treats from my garden and kitchen.

    Scratch is heavy on energy and fairly light on real nutrients. If you are keeping track of your chickens' diet and want to make them the most efficient at either laying or putting on weight, scratch can mess that balance up with them eating too much scratch and not enough of their feed which is formulated to provide everything they need. You can mess up that balance by feeding too much other treats too, like pumpkin or cabbage. If you let your chickens out where they can eat greens, creepy-crawlies, seeds, and anything else they can find or catch, you've lost control over that balance too, but odds are they will manage a relatively healthy diet anyway. It just won't be scientifically formulated. When I grew up, our chickens experienced the "no fences" definition of free range all seasons. In the winter we would throw them some shelled corn to supplement their diet when there was snow on the ground and they did get the pickings of the seeds from the hay we fed the cows. All this is considered scratch. Most of their diet was seeds and other things they found. I'm sure they were not at peak efficiency in the winter, but they were not laying that much anyway. Some, but not that much. The point of this is for you to consider how important it is to you that they have a scientifically formulated balanced diet and be guided from there. Contrary to what you may get out of this, I keep mine locked in the coop and run where they cannot forage for themselves and I do concern myself with a balanced diet.

    Some people feed scratch to help keep them warm in the cold weather. Since it is high in calories, it provides extra energy which can be used to keep them warm. Or maybe, if you feed it just before they go to bed, it helps keep extra blood near the body core while they are digesting it, which is what you want to keep them warm. Blood near the body surface radiates more heat that blood in the body core where it is better insulated. I personally think this concern is a bit over the top for many of us, depending on your climate and conditions of course, since I see mine out dust bathing and hanging around in the run in temperatures in the teens Fahrenheit (say -10 C) as long as they are out of the wind. I think their down coat does a good job keeping them warm.

    I butcher my own chickens. I have noticed that many have a lot of fat inside, especially around the vent and wrapped around their gizzard and other internal organs. I don't see how that much fat can be healthy, although they do not appear to be fat just looking at them and they are active and they lay well. I mostly feed mine a 16% layer feed and greens from my garden, not a high fat high energy diet. I just don't see that they need any more high energy food.

    Hopefully I was nice enough and I explained why I do not feed scratch.
  4. 95yj

    95yj Songster

    Nov 25, 2009
    Central Vermont
    scratch definitely has its place, my main chickens are show quality old english game bantams whose main purpose in life is to go to shows and look pretty, they are spoiled rotten... they get all their nutritional needs met from their crumbles, table scraps and other treats, but i like to give them scratch, especialy as a reward for being good or on a really cold night [it does get cold around here]. they probably don't need it but the extra fat helps them out in the winter and i'm convinced that it helps them out in a couple extra ways. i also feed scratch to my golden pheasants less often and to my pigeons as a regular feed mixed with wild bird seed and game bird crumbles. When i raise meat chickens in the spring i'll only give them scratch or whole corn if i have half a bag left, i think the cost to weight conversion is alot cheaper w/ turkey feed and chickens were not made to eat corn 24/7...
    sorry to hijack, but i'm feeding suet to my bobwhite quail and was wondering if anybody tried this on chickens?
  5. davidb

    davidb Songster

    Dec 15, 2008
    north east Georgia
    I free range my flock and I think scratch is a good supplement feed, I mix laying pellets in with my scratch and get eggs daily, In the winter I have to mix in more pellets than the rest of the year.
  6. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I use it similarly to rdranch's first flock. And they KNOW the scratch if they see it or hear it rattling, they come a-runnin', so it makes a great lure. I do throw some out daily for a treat, more now than I was doing when the weather was warmer.
  7. dacjohns

    dacjohns People Cracker Upper

    You can be real scientific about it and keep your chickens confined giving them only a formulated diet that is measured out for optimum performance or you can do it the "old fashioned" way and let your chickens have free run of the yard/barnyard eating only what they find with some scratch thrown in.

    Using the second method your chickens will survive but you won't get optimum results.

    What I do is keep commercial feed available all the time, let them roam around the yard during the day, and throw them scratch occasionally. It is good for getting them back in the pen if you need to close them up early. I am also not of the opinion that scratch is evil nor do I think that scratch is all they need.

  8. CountryMom

    CountryMom Songster

    Jun 21, 2008
    South Texas
  9. Sissy

    Sissy Songster

    Jul 18, 2007
    Sevier county, Tn.
    Same for us we feed a little scratch just before
    they get ready to roost.
    but purina layena is their main meal.everyday.
    and fresh kale once a week.
  10. Ms~Silkie~Girl

    Ms~Silkie~Girl Songster

    Feb 7, 2009
    New York STATE
    My chickens love it. It also keeps them occupied for a little while, so they don't pick at eachother.

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