What is scratch and when do I start using it?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by ssteiner, Jan 19, 2009.

  1. ssteiner

    ssteiner Songster

    Nov 24, 2008
    Orange, CA
    My girls are all under 12 weeks, and so far they've just been on starter food and now mash. They also feast on occasional kitchen scraps (greens mostly). But I see a lot about "scratch" and have to confess I'm not exactly sure what it is. Do I go to the feed store and ask for scratch? If so, how much? And how often do I feed it to the girls? Is scratch related to oyster shells? Sorry for all the questions but any help is appreciated. Thanks.


  2. willowcol

    willowcol Songster

    Oct 10, 2008
    Macclesfield NC
    Scratch is usually cracked corn, some have other thing in it as well. I started giving scratch to mine around 14 weeks, I think. Not sure of when its alright to give, I never looked that up.
  3. SterlingAcres

    SterlingAcres Songster

    Apr 17, 2008
    Poconos, PA
    Scratch is a treat mix. It's got corn, barley, oats, etc etc in it. I started buying it for my chooks once they were about 3 months old. As long as your birds have access to some form of grit, they should be able to have it.
  4. jvls1942

    jvls1942 Crowing

    Oct 16, 2008
    Quote:scratch is just any whole grain that can be thrown on the ground and easly found by the chickens. they "scratch" the ground to find it.

    it satisfies their their natural instinct to scratch.. they loe to do it..

    I buy my feed from a place called Fleet & Farm and they do sell a 50 pound bag called scratch.. it has oats, corn, barley, and a few other grains mixed in.. just plain cracked corn is enough to make the chickens go nuts.. you can use any grain that happens to be handy or cheap in your neck of the woods.. clucks take 3 day old chicks out to forrage on the ground and they do like the scratch feed at that young age..

    chicks learn what to eat by watching what the cluck eats.. It is interesting to me to watch her call them to an interesting morsel on the ground..

  5. Suess hens

    Suess hens Songster

    May 4, 2008
    Altadena, CA
    We use it as a treat. I usually throw a few hand fulls in to the girls after I collect eggs each day. Well, actually my 2 year old throws the hand fulls around, keeps her busy while I do things around the coop.
  6. lalyswishytail

    lalyswishytail In the Brooder

    Jan 13, 2009
    Chicago area
    I'm hardly an expert, (and if you've seen my other postings, I'm a level below novice), but I seemed to have read enough of these posts to know the difference between scratch and oyster shells. Perhaps someone more experienced can confirm my answer...

    The previous responses seemed to have given a pretty good answer for scratch. I think if you read enough of other people's posts you'd find that some people make their own scratch too.

    The oysters shells, (again, if I'm right), are ground up bits of oyster shell that contain calcium needed to form harder egg shells. You can buy that in bags at tractor supply stores, (so I've read).

    What I'd like to know is if oyster shells are really necessary. I mean, did people have access to ground oyster shells hundreds of years ago? How did chickens get calcium then?

    Hope this helps.
  7. toddy111

    toddy111 Songster

    hmmmmmm ........ [​IMG]

  8. jvls1942

    jvls1942 Crowing

    Oct 16, 2008
    there is calcium in many sources.
    plants, insects egg shells fed back to the chickens.. I know that oyster shells were available at least 80 years ago.. I cannot vouch for earlier.. I suppose that 200 years ago that chickens were not expected to lay eggs in the dead of winter, so they did not need the extra calcium..
  9. mjdtexan

    mjdtexan Songster

    Sep 30, 2008
    Quote:I think we admit a lot of stuff to chickens diets that they never got in the wild. I would be willing to bet though that our domestic birds are laying more eggs on account of what we feed them. Its the whole reason we (I think) feed them things like "layer feed" and "oyster shells". At least thats the reason for us that are doing it for the eggs. Ifin they eggs are not what you are doing it for then I wouldnt bother.

    Oh yeah, my pullets been getting scratch since they turned 6 weeks old. They are 12 weeks now. I am a beginner too.
  10. CMB

    CMB In the Brooder

    Jan 25, 2009
    I don't know if its the "right" way to do it but it works for me, I simply grind up the shells from the eggs we eat and feed them back my hens. I guess its kinda like recycling calcium?

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