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Scratch grains are both a feeding method as well as a type of feed. The method involves scattering your chicken’s feed on the ground, which encourages them to scratch at the ground with their feet to reveal the food.
Chicken Scratch Feed
Some of the best type of food to use for this method is whole grains and coarsely cracked grains. They are thick and large enough for the chickens to find but won’t blow away in the wind or mix with rain water and turn to a paste. Feeding chickens scratch grains are extremely popular and beneficial for chickens of all ages.
Advantages to Using Scratch Grains
If you are trying to keep tame chickens, scratch grains is a great option. Many people feed their chickens from bulk feeders which are impersonal and distant. By scattering the feed yourself, the chickens will run right up to you and learn to associate people with happiness.
This brings you and your chickens closer. Not only emotionally for bonding, but physically closer which allows you inspect your chickens as they eat and make sure they are healthy and uninjured.
Offering your chickens an activity while they eat gets them up and about. Not only do they get exercise, but is a good way to get them up so you can collect their eggs more easily. Foraging is healthy exercise for chickens and discourages lazy behavior.
Chickens do suffer from stress from environmental factors. Just like with people, socializing often makes them feel better. Chickens are social and competitive eaters. With scratch grains, chickens will be more likely to eat if they notice others are eating.
The Nutritional Benefits of Scratch Grains
The best types of scratch grains to use are:
- Whole corn
- Cracked corn
- Whole wheat
- Cracked wheat
- Whole oats
- Rolled oats
- Commercial scratch grains
These grains tend to be high in fiber, which provides energy and healthy digestion. The best brands only contain the grains with no animal proteins or fats that can be harmful to a bird’s diet.
When and How Much Scratch Grains Should I Feed My Chickens?
Scratch grains are low in protein and high in calcium, both of which mean you cannot form a complete diet out of thees grains alone. Scratch grains should not be used as a replacement for normal feed, but as a grain supplement.
Too much grain means that the chickens will not have an appetite for normal food. Only about 10% of the chicken’s diet should be composed of thees grains. About 400 hens should only be given about two quarts of scratch grains.
The best time to feed chickens iss in the afternoon after they have finished eating a complete feed. They should be able to eat what you’ve put down within 20 minutes.
The age of your chickens can dictate which type of grains you should use. Whole corn, cracked wheat, and whole oats are better for adult chickens than young ones. Cracked corn and whole wheat is good for baby chicks. Avoid whole oats for babies as it can stunt their growth.
In short, scratch grains are a great way to supplement your chicken’s diet and encourage health behavior, like scratching and socialization. Just make sure not to let it dominate your hen’s diet.