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Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by roostercluck, May 30, 2012.
Do you absolutely have to give chickens scratch? If so, what does it help with?
No, and depending upon quantity doing so may be detrimental. That being said, I have always fed a small portion of scratch daily. One of the problems I find is that so much of today's scratch feed is garbage - not very high quality.
Not all "scratch" is created equal. I use Knockout Game Feed as mine, which is 12% protein and meant as a game rooster feed. Has a low percentage of corn by ratio and can be fed as sole ration to roosters kept separately. I put it in jars and shake them to call the birds home from free ranging. It's a training tool as well as what they get first thing in the morning when they come out, just a handful or two thrown out on the ground for each group.
I think most of us use scratch as a treat.
I use it as an incentive to get them back in the coop after they've been out in the yard. Yes, they'll go in on their own eventually, but I often need to go somewhere or do something and I need them to go in when I want, not when they want. In the winter when there is not as much time to eat enough calories to keep warm at night it might have more of a real purpose.
In short, I feed a very small amount (a couple of handfuls for 7 chickens) of scratch around dusk each day when the days are long. When the days are short it's about twice as much. Sometimes if I have left-over rice or other high calorie table scraps I will give that instead. It's definitely not meant to be nutritious.
Quote: Weeeell, I would not exactly agree with that. It's not like corn has absolutely no nutritional value. It does. It just has too much fat and too low protein to be the largest portion of a chicken's diet. And, as I said, there are different formulations of scratch. Around here, I can get plain corn, 3 grain, 5 grain, 7 grain, 11 grain and 13 grain "scratch". Those certainly have nutritional value.
The picture I posted above is an 11 grain game feed I use as my scratch and it does have good nutritional value, just not enough protein or calcium for laying hens on a daily basis as their sole ration, nor for growing chicks.
If you do not give it to them will it affect their health?
No, they don't have to have scratch at all.