You can buy scratch grains from almost any feed store that sells chicken supplies, or you can make your own, and they’re relatively cheap either way. Scratch grains make a perfect treat for your chickens, and they love it! It’s especially good to give them in the winter time, but I’m sure your flock wouldn’t mind a little scratch throughout the year. Here’s all about scratch grains and how much you should give your flock.
What’s In Scratch?
The main things in scratch are corn and sunflower seeds mixed with a bunch of grains. It’s super easy to make your own scratch, however, and there’s plenty of recipes out there to do so. I haven’t tried it yet, but I think it’s definitely on the consideration list because my girls tend to eat the sunflower seeds out of the commercial scratch more than anything! Here’s a more in-depth list of the average ingredients that you’ll find in scratch by brands like Dumor and your feed store scratch grains, along with what it does for your chickens.
- Corn: As I mentioned earlier, scratch is an amazing winter treat, and the ingredient corn is the factor that makes this statement true. Corn produces heat inside a hen’s body as it’s being digested, working to warm your hens up from the inside. There is such thing as to much though, which is why it’s smart to limit how much scratch you give your chickens. I like to give my chickens scratch in the afternoons after they’ve eaten their feed, as a grown hen usually eats most of her daily feed intake in the morning.
- Sunflower Seeds: These are actually extremely good to give your chickens, plus they love them! Sunflower seeds contain vitamin E and methionine, an important amino acid for chickens. These are a good idea to mix into your chickens daily feed as well because they’re so good for them!
- Oats and other grains: Whole grains are amazing to give to chickens, but as ground grains are more common in scratch, it’s important to limit the amount you give them, as these grains aren’t as high in nutrients or proteins.
To keep the amount of scratch you feed at a healthy amount, I suggest only giving your chickens as much scratch as they would eat in 15-20 minutes, no matter the flock size. As I mentioned earlier, it’s important to make sure your chickens are eating their regular feed before any treats. I also can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure that treats only make up 10% of your flocks diet. Sure, most treats have many good health benefits, but their feed is composed of essential vitamins and minerals they can’t get from regular treats.
Another tip is to give your flock scratch before bed during the winter. The thought behind this is that while your chickens are sleeping, their bodies will keep warm while digesting the corn in the scratch.
Chickens love scratch, I don’t know how many times I can say that. And now that you have a better idea on what scratch does for your chickens, you can decide if you want to feed it to your flock or not. I don’t think there’s any negatives from scratch grains, but it’s completely optional. But if you do, be prepared for a flock of excited chickens!
Dancing with Chickens