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When are they old enough for scratch?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Suechick, Jan 5, 2010.

  1. Suechick

    Suechick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 27, 2009
    Carlsbad, CA
    I have 10 week old chicks and I'm running low on their feed. I want to stretch it out some until their I can pick up the next bag of feed. Can I give them a little scratch yet? Or are they too small?

    And what about stuff like broccoli stems? or pumpkin seeds? Are these things to tough for them?
     
  2. Princess Amri

    Princess Amri Is Mostly Harmless

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    best coast
    Go ahead! They might be scared of it but it's worth a try!
     
  3. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2009
    Seattle
    With chicks, their bodies are growing like mad. It's important to keep up that growth, or they can quickly develop problems.

    You need to supplement the scratch with some high-quality protein. Merely adding scratch and veggies can actually lower their overall protein intake from the protein level in the chick starter/grower feed. Those high levels are there to help them grow.

    If it were me trying to stretch a bag with scratch, I'd add protein supplements like fish, cooked beans, eggs, cottage cheese, too. Also remember that they need grit to be able to digest the scratch and other greens or supplements you give them. If they are not outdoors and able to pick up small stones or grit from the ground, then you need to actually give them grit with anything they eat except for the crumbles and mash feed.
     
  4. catdaddyfro

    catdaddyfro Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:I have six 10 wk olds I give them a little everyday just for something for them to pick at. It should be fine for them as long as you give them a little grit along with the grain so their gizzards will have something abrasive to help grind up the feed for proper digestion.
     
  5. Suechick

    Suechick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 27, 2009
    Carlsbad, CA
    Thanks for the input.
    I have been giving them grit and other treats including eggs and yogurt. I just want to give them a little scratch for fun and keep adding interesting tid bits. They have free run in my small yard and are getting lots of bugs, spiders, weeds, grass etc. This is our first time having chickens and we love them. I guess I'd be interested in what other high protein treats I can find for them. What about ricotta cheese? I started a mealworm farm but it isn't doing so well yet.
     
  6. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

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    I'd rather wait until they are near grown to add scratch or other plain grains. Scratch has little useful nutrition and will lower the protein levels. There are plenty of higher protein treats and I don't even use scratch for my adults. I use BOSS (black oil sunflower seeds) since it has more vitamins and minerals as well as higher kcals than corn and other grains. It takes less of it and has more benefits as well as cutting their feed consumption nearly in half when they are stuck indoors. Feeding scratch probably won't lower their feed consumption much because they will still need to eat nearly as much feed to get the needed nutrition to keep growing. Adding meat scraps, eggs, vegetables/fruit, and leftover oatmeal or stale lower sugar cereals would go farther than most scratch. The first 2 would keep the protein level up for the rest and a few vegetables aren't too bad for protein along with having other vitamins and minerals. My chickens including chicks still indoors get most of whatever is about to go bad in the fridge, old eggs that haven't been eaten by other pets, food left on plates after meals, or on a cooked bone since the dogs can't have cooked bones and I'm too lazy to get it all off. Today it was pork and mushy strawberries. They got a lot more before I got married and had a second person to help eat everything. If you don't have chick size grit you can't feed anything besides poultry feed that isn't soft. Things like yogurt and cottage cheese could be fed without grit but mine never wanted to eat those things. I've yet to have a chicken do anything with yogurt but walk through it.
     
  7. Suechick

    Suechick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 27, 2009
    Carlsbad, CA
    Oh, what is Black oil sunflower seeds and where do I get it?

    So, leftover hamburger isi OK?
     
  8. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2009
    Seattle
    Quote:Black oil sunflower seeds - often referred to, here on BYC, as "BOSS" - is sold at most feed stores. I get mine in 5# bags, but they are much cheaper, at my feedstore, in 40# bags. They have black shells. The shells, as well as the kernels, have great nutrition for birds. I give my 5 hens about 1 handful every other day. It keeps their feathers in great condition, for one thing.

    Leftover hamburger is fine. And they like the fat.

    I've also started a mealworm farm, as I see you have too. I started in August and my "worms" are about 1/2 grown, and are growing very slowly in this cold weather. They really thrive and grow quickly at temperatures near 80F - which my house IS NOT! I fed my adult birds most of the beetles, gradually, over the winter. I just throw the beetles on the ground while the hens were free-ranging the yard.
     
  9. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2009
    Seattle
    Quote:LOL, I hear ya! That's why I mix yogurt with something that looks like food, like crumbles.
     
  10. Suechick

    Suechick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    feathersnuggles - great name!
    I'll check about the BOSS the next time I'm at the feed store, thanks for the info.

    About the mealworms - I've considered starting up my incubator for the worms to get them going. I have a wafer thermostat so I could set the temp down to 80. I wonder if anyone has ever tried that.... hmmm... maybe I'll build a separate mealworm incubator.... its not like I need more projects but it could be fun.
     

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