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what age to start with scratch?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by dftkarin, Aug 2, 2008.

  1. dftkarin

    dftkarin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 27, 2008
    My chicks are only 3 weeks and I do lure them around with uncooked oatmeal, but when can I buy and treat them to scratch?
     
  2. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    Colorado
    Scratch is considered (by most people) to be a candy treat for chickens and should only be fed during the cold months (people disagree on this too) and only a little as a treat... not as a food.

    I'd not feed your chicks scratch until this winter. You can find lots of other great treats for your chicks. Start with plain yogurt, watermelon or such.
     
  3. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm assuming that you are raising a layer breed, dftkarin. If we followed a starter-grower-developer regimen for chicks, we would begin reducing the protein levels a little when they are about 6 weeks old. By 14 weeks, they would be down to protein in their rations about where it will remain thru their laying careers. So, the chicks would go from about 20% to about 15% during a 2 month period (6 weeks to 14 weeks).

    Eight weeks seems about the age when they get a little more adventuresome with new foods, anyway.

    Cereal grains have quite a few calories. Often scratch is about one-half corn. A pound of corn meal has about 1800 calories. Chicken feed has about 1300 calories in each pound. So, there's more than a third too many calories (according to the folks who formulate these feeds). At the same time, corn is only about 8 to 10% protein.

    I'm not at all a person who sees scratch or corn as inappropriate. With some nice low-cal salad greens [​IMG] and plenty of a high-protein feed, they can be a useful additions to a chicken¬ís diet. IMO

    Steve
     
  4. coffeelady3

    coffeelady3 Froths Milk for Hard Cash

    Jun 26, 2008
    Tacoma, WA
    My two 10 week old girls got their first taste of scratch today. (just a little bit) You would have thought they had died and gone to heaven!
     
  5. skeeter

    skeeter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    this is something i dont understand,everyone is sooo concerned about feeding corn and scratch to chickens but what is the starter,grower,and layer feed made out of, CORN
    or probally half of these feeds are corn,so what is the big deal
     
  6. CritterHill

    CritterHill Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I think (and I'm sure someone will correct me if I am wrong) the big deal is that scratch does not have the protein content that the feed does. It's not that corn is evil, it is that if they are eating so much scratch that they don't eat enough of their feed, they will be malnourished.

    It's an everything in moderation thing.
     
  7. dftkarin

    dftkarin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for the responses! I guess I'm just eager to make my chicks happy and excited about something. I do need to lure them (because they are still terrified of me) out of their tractor and into a cat carrier to ride back into the house to their guinea pig cage night time brooder/cage, and oatmeal was a compelling treat for a few days but now they don't seem as excited about it. I have tried a few other things but they don't seem as excited - maybe I'll try yogurt or scrambled eggs?
     
  8. CritterHill

    CritterHill Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yogurt (plain) and scrambled eggs are favorites here! Scrambled eggs mostly though.
     
  9. mistylady

    mistylady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 1, 2008
    Ohio near Coshocton
    Hard boiled eggs, apples chunks, pulled grass and bread (in small amounts) are the favorite snacks of my feathered little peoples! I smash the eggs up for them and they eat it all including the shells.
     
  10. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I think (and I'm sure someone will correct me if I am wrong) the big deal is that scratch does not have the protein content that the feed does. It's not that corn is evil, it is that if they are eating so much scratch that they don't eat enough of their feed, they will be malnourished.

    It's an everything in moderation thing.

    I think you are both exactly right. I guess we're drifting a little off topic here but some feed formulas are, indeed, one-half corn. But, the other half is primarily soybean meal and fish meal. At about 50 to 60 percent protein, those ingredients are providing a lot of what is necessary for the chicken to grow. Also included in the feed are vitamins & minerals.

    It isn't so much that these other things that chickens enjoy eating are bad for them. It is that, even an adult hen can eat only one-quarter to one-half pound of food each day. And, they are maturing at a rate of about 1 Week Chicken equals 1 Year Human. A handful of anything amounts to a fairly big deal to a chicken.

    I think most of us have only the option of staying with a high protein feed until the birds begin to lay. That's fine and maybe even more fun! That 18 - 20% protein level allows us to give the birds lower protein (but healthful) foods especially as their growth naturally starts to slow during the final months before they begin to lay. [​IMG]

    My suggestion for dftkarin's chicks is to stay fairly high protein and try cooking that oat meal a minute in the microwave. They'll probably be back to falling all over each other trying to get at it especially if there's a spoonful of yogurt in there to cool it down [​IMG].

    Steve
     

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