To Scratch or not to Scratch???

juliawitt

Songster
10 Years
Aug 9, 2009
368
12
121
I have heard that you can not give scratch to chickens during the summer because it makes them too hot. I have 14 layer and I give a small can of scratch in the morning, scattered all over the yard so they have something to do. In the evening, I give a little handful while I gather eggs and I give them 2 pieces of bread....which they jump for....very cute. Anyway, when it gets hot, do I need to stop giving grain (scratch) and if so, what is the best treat to scatter in their yard?
 

A.T. Hagan

Don't Panic
12 Years
Aug 13, 2007
5,379
210
303
North/Central Florida
There is no kind of feed you can give your chickens that is going to make them "too hot." It's an old wives tale.

But depending on what you are feeding them it is possible to give too much scratch feed.

I presume you're giving your birds some form of complete ration such as a layer feed? If it is in the typical 15-16% protein range that many such layer rations are then I would not give the equivalent of more than about one-half of a handful of scratch per hen per day. Any more than that and you begin to dilute the protein and other nutrients in the already minimal layer feed.

If you're feeding a higher protein percentage then you can give them more scratch if you like. I use a 20% general purpose poultry ration and feed grains free-choice along with it (as well as oyster shell). They typically eat about a 50/50 mix of the two which balances their protein intake at about 16% which is what they need for good egg production.

As for the best scratch feed to use most every feed store carries a 'scratch feed' that is fairly cheap. They don't always use the same ingredients though. The ones I've seen here in Florida typically use cracked corn, milo (sorghum) and wheat. I have stopped using it due to the amount of cracked corn that was wasted. I now use a mix of whole corn, wheat, and alfalfa pellets in about a 4:2:1 ratio which produces less waste. Most flocks will be happy with ordinary feed store scratch feed though so that is what I would try first then experiment from there if you want to.

.....Alan.
 

12GAGirl

Songster
9 Years
Feb 2, 2010
285
2
121
I have never heard scratch feed making them too hot. Chickens are going to scratch and search for treats even if you don't throw scratch feed down for them. My grandfather feed his flock scratch all year no matter how hot it was.
 

Chris09

Circle (M) Ranch
10 Years
Jun 1, 2009
10,999
578
328
Ohio
juliawitt --

In general "scratch grain" will not make your birds hot or even warm.
Scratch grain and the "all grain feeds" can be high in Carbohydrates and too much Carbs. can make a bird overly fat, then in turn that overly fat bird can get somewhat warmer.
I feed a mixture of a 21% protein Starter/ Grower and a 14% protein all grain Pigeon feed (it's like a glorified scratch grain) at the rate of 60% Starter/ Grower and 40% Pigeon feed all year round to my layers and breeders.
By mixing my feed at 60% Starter/ Grower and 40% Pigeon feed that puts me at 18% protein. Now I do supplement my layer with Alfalfa meal, Vita/ Min. mix and feed grade lime (for extra calcium).

Chris​
 

tdgill

Crowing
11 Years
Jan 28, 2009
3,028
49
266
Cecil Co. MD - 5Yrs. Chickens 4Yrs. Ducks
i love these guys....

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Illia

Crazy for Colors
10 Years
Oct 19, 2009
16,240
243
336
Forks, WA
I've given up on allowing my chickens scratch - After that, they don't like eating their pellets or even anything they find in the yard. Nope, it's I want grains!! . . . . I can't wait until summer, when their sugar sources are from fallen and picked fruit, not corn. Plus I'm pretty sure it is what is causing my EE to lay a constant supply of soft shelled eggs in the middle of the night.
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tdgill

Crowing
11 Years
Jan 28, 2009
3,028
49
266
Cecil Co. MD - 5Yrs. Chickens 4Yrs. Ducks
Love your website Illia!

mine eat more scratch than they probably should - I am feeding only 16% crumbles. But egg production has been pretty steady so I guess we're ok. I worried about them getting picky spoiled too, but it seems like chickens are always hungry and will get to that crumbles sooner or later. I also feed back egg shells which they seem to prefer over oyster shell but I have both available...no soft shells from my girls. I have fun feeding them leftovers and digging for wigglers for them too so I guess that also helps up the protein. Seems to me the first thing that is a clue to any problems is egg production then?
 
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scbatz33

No Vacancy, Belfry Full
11 Years
Jan 23, 2009
7,000
26
251
South GA
I give my girls scratch. I have yet to really understand why there are so many people against it. I would not feed it solely because I've seen how not having a complete ration can affect egg production. I toss a few handfuls out in the morning and they have fun all day digging around.

Depending on where you get it does depend on what is in it. I used to get just a cracked corn/wheat mix. But when I changed mills, the new place puts cracked corn, wheat, oats and barley in it.
 

Chris09

Circle (M) Ranch
10 Years
Jun 1, 2009
10,999
578
328
Ohio
Quote:
I agree a lot has to do with where you get your "Scratch Grain" at, as to what you get. Some "Scratch Grain" are as simple as corn and oats then some are more complex and can have 10 or more grains and Seed's in it..
The all Grain Pigeon Mix I feed as a "Scratch Grain" has all kinds of grains and seeds in it and it being a 14% protein it doesn't drop the protein in there main feed as much as a 8% "Scratch Grain" would.

This is a list of Grain and seeds that is in the all Grain Pigeon Mix that I feed as a "Scratch Grain".
Canada Peas, Milo, Wheat, Yellow Corn, Safflower Seed, Maple Peas, Flax, Brown Rice, Vetch, Buck Wheat, Oats Groats and Black Oiled Sunflower Seed.

Chris
 

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