11 Years
Apr 23, 2012
Northern MN
My layers are about 6 weeks old now and are doing very well in their coop. I feed them chick starter and give them treats from the house, although I haven't seemed to find anything that they are particularly excited about yet. What age is it ok to start giving them some scratch grains? I have sprinkled their starter feed outside a time or two, and they go after that. I feed my horses a variety of grains. Last night, I took a handful of plain oats and sprinkled it in the layers' run. They seemed interested, but still didn't go nuts. I also feed the horses a 16% protein sweet feed theat has oats, a little corn, a pelleted feed and molasses. Can I use that for scratch grain, or should I go buy actual scratch grain for them??

My feed room already looks like a feed store!! The horses have 9 different feeds/supplements, then I have chick starter for my layers, meat bird crumbles for my meatys, game bird feed for my turkeys, and a little bag of grit... :)
Having one more bag in the feed shed to keep fresh and rodent free? I can understand. Chicken won't die if they don't get scratch. I assume your basic feed is top quality and a complete ration for their health, growth and well-being. Hopefully, the birds will access to fresh grass, bugs, worms and little things they can scratch up and find for themselves. I'd say relax and see how it goes. If you soak some oats for three or four days, to soften them? The chickens usually love that. Six week old chicks are just a bit fussy yet.
I've been keeping chickens for about 6 years now and I don't even know what "scratch" is. Does that answer your question?

You can give your youngsters some fresh greens to keep them busy. Hang a whole cabbage in the run and let them go at it. They'll have fun!
Scratch is just cracked grain. They are better off eating their starter with an occasional treat. It's alot more nutritious for them.
I hung a cabbage in the run and it took them a few days to figure out what it was. The layers still don't go crazy over it, but the meatys demolished theirs! But I found out the do go crazy for fresh corn on the cob!!
Mine are 6 weeks and I have been taking a small amount of a millet/sorghum mixture that I have for my guineas out to them. I only use it to hand feed them. I will wait awhile to give them scratch everyday. These chicks are growing fast. They have been in the coop since 4 1/2 weeks and I left them out in the run a few days ago. Last night all 26 finally were on the roost. I have never had all chicks on the roost by 6 weeks. They are Welsummers & EEs.
Mine are starting to roost as well!! I love going into the coop in the morning and finding that they have found a new corner of the coop they hadn't been in before! I let them out into their run during the day, rain or shine. I open the coop door and leave it open. I figure they can decide whether they want to be in or out. I close the door in the evening so they are all snug in the coop at night. If I have time in the morning, I'll keep the run door open and let them free range for a bit while I do other chores around the farm. This morning, they wandered a bit farther then they had before... Kind of made me nervous that they're getting so bold!

My original question, I think, was misinterpreted... I know that I don't HAVE to give them scratch grain, but if I WANT to give it to them, for instance, if the weather has been really bad and they haven't had much of a chance to get out and I want them to have something to stimulate their interest... happy chickens, you know... CAN I use the grain I feed my horses, or would it be bad for them?? It is a 16% sweet feed with oats, some sort of pellet, and molasses...

This morning, I gave them yogurt for the first time. They really seemed to like it. I mixed in a couple of hard boiled eggs, some left over mango, a few grapes... They liked the egg and the mango, but ignored the grapes. I gave a plate of it to the layers, and a plate to the meatys. The meatys are usually much bolder than the layers, but they didn't even look at it! I found a bunch of worms for them under a board and topped off the plate with a handful of squirmy live worms! Yum, yum, yum!!! I called it Chicken Delight!!!

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