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To "scratch" or not to "scratch." That is the question.

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by wornoutmomto3, Nov 9, 2015.

  1. wornoutmomto3

    wornoutmomto3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    LOL! I was having a little fun with the title, but it is my actual question. The weather here in not-quite-North Florida has been a bit crazy. It has been hot, then cold, then wet, then hot, then humid, then cold again, and then more hot weather. I feed my flock a basic flock feed which covers all the bases as far as balanced nutrition goes. However, with this crazy weather I have been noticing some of my birds getting a bit lean even with a double portion of feed available at all times. Some of my younger hens have even started laying with all this craziness. My flock also free ranges for a good portion of the day, but I am considering adding a bit of "chicken junk food" to the mix in the form of scratch grains.

    I thought I would inquire of to see if anyone had a specific scratch grain mixes/brands they used or if there were any other options/ideas?
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I'm not clear on what you mean by a double portion of feed. Do you mean you feed twice a day or is it available all waking hours and they are consuming twice what they used to eat?

    Scratch will provide energy but can contribute to fat. Scratch helps them with the natural scratching behavior but shouldn't be more than 5-10% of the diet.
    To add muscle, they need protein, not fat and carbs.
     
  3. wornoutmomto3

    wornoutmomto3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    By double portion I mean that twice the normal amount of feed is put out daily. (ie... 10 scoops instead of 5)
     
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

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    I mix my own scratch, equal parts ground or cracked corn to black oil sunflower seeds, you can also add in some bird seed, I found the premixed ones were corn, oats and wheat which my chickens didn't eat very well, I toss a bit in the morning and again in the late afternoon to give them something substantial to digest.

    Younger birds won't be filled out, and most laying breeds will always seem thin compared to meat birds.
     
  5. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    There's a lot of back and forth about the benefits of feeding scratch in the evenings to help the birds get through the cold nights, too. Me? I don't know which way to lean, but I do know this - scratch makes a great boredom buster and gets the girls actively searching, foraging and digging in the litter of the run, and anything that keeps them entertained when they have to be confined because of winter is a good thing - whether it helps them stay warm or gain weight or not. If they are busy, they aren't feather pecking!

    If this weight loss you describe is rather sudden, or obvious enough to be troubling, then you might want to take a fecal sample to your nearest vet. Even if the vet isn't an avian specialist, the egg casings from rounds, etc, are the same no matter which animal they came from. Also you can check them for external parasites - a load of unseen mites can really drain them.

    If neither of these are the case, then is when I'd start looking at diet. Good luck!
     
  6. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

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    I personally enjoy the time with my chickens, it's a good time to see if everyone is eating and acting normal and to observe the pecking order, otherwise my chickens can be spread over a 20 acre area.
     
  7. chickmomma03

    chickmomma03 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't feed scratch, but I do toss out some regular feed on the ground for them (not a ton, just a little for them to play with), and they love it. It gives them something to do and each time I do it it makes them think they're getting to do something new lol
     

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