Should I feed my hens scratch or layer feed?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by animalluv0512, Jan 9, 2015.

  1. animalluv0512

    animalluv0512 Out Of The Brooder

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    In the winter time,and the girls are not laying much this time of year. So I was just curious as to if scratch would be better to feed in the winter time than the layer feed?? Hope you guys could give me a few suggestions? thanks :)
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    Scratch is high in energy but very low in protein and vitamins/minerals. They need a complete feed but if they're not all laying, a better option is a grower feed or all flock type feed that has lower calcium (about 1%) yet still has all the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fats and energy chickens need.

    Just scratch will quickly make them nutritionally deficient.
     
  3. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    Scratch is not sufficient in nutrients to be used as a feed, it is meant only as a "treat" and should comprise no more than about 10% of your birds' daily diet at most. An alternative to looking at it as layer or scratch is to use a grower/flock raiser type feed in place of the layer ration. Birds who are not actively in production do not need the calcium afforded by the layer ration and the extra protein in the grower ration can be a benefit. Even when they are in production you can feed grower and offer oyster shell to have the best of both worlds - the extra protein and the calcium they need to produce good eggs.
     
  4. ThePRfan

    ThePRfan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Scratch is more of a treat/filler.
    Feeding them scratch as dinner or breakfast,isnt necessarily bad,but layer feed is more appropriate to feed,when scratch is lower in protein.

    If they dont have enough protein,it can cause feather eating,or even cannibalize.

    ThePRfan
     
  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    I want to add that if they aren't laying well, they shouldn't all be getting 4% calcium layer feed. You can provide oyster shell in a separate container for those that are laying and give the entire flock a grower feed that is 1% calcium.

    Chickens are omnivores that have a wide range of nutritional needs. Scratch is basically a mix of grains that are deficient in some of the essential amino acids. Poultry feed contains all the nutrients chickens are known to need with differences in protein and calcium based on the age and purpose of the birds.
     
  6. ThePRfan

    ThePRfan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You shouldn't randomly feed oyster shell.
    It should be mixed in with their feed.1full hand scoop.

    I dont suggest on putting containers with oyster shells out,just because it says on the packet do not feed them plainly.
     
  7. Areolyn

    Areolyn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've never heard of oyster shell being mixed with feed. Why would you not leave out a separate feeder with oyster shells in it? :/
     
  8. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    Will have to respectfully agree to disagree on that assertion as free choice offering of calcium is commonly suggested by many suppliers, producers and poultry based companies (not to mention numerous poultry men/women). It is often recommended to be fed separately OR mixed with feed, but I have not once seen instruction that feeding separately is recommended against.

    As an example:
    (from Nutrena)
    Quote: or
    Quote:
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2015
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  9. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    Not true. If there are no layers in the flock, don't provide oyster shell. If some are building egg shells and some aren't, provide oyster shell.

    Mixing oyster shell with feed gives way too much calcium - recipe for kidney damage and gout.

    If it were appropriate to mix oyster shell with feed - for whatever reason - feed companies would have already made the feed with the appropriate percentage of calcium. Oh yeah, that's right, they already did. It's called layer feed.

    Keeping it in a separate container is the only way to give the hen the choice whether to consume the extra calcium or not.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2015
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  10. ThePRfan

    ThePRfan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I guess the package is wrong then....
     

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