Can chickens scratch for laying mash? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread


several threads down, someone mentioned a chicken feed site. The site suggests that chickens should scratch for their feed in the winter (to keep them busy or exercised, I guess). Can laying mash/feed be scattered on the litter so that they'll scratch for it? Or won't they ever find enough of it to continue laying? Why is there "scratch feed" this any different from laying feed?

thanks much.

-- Cat (, December 27, 2001


I wouldn't put laying feed out as scratch--too much waste. Goodness knows they waste enough as it is. Scratch feed can be tossed out to them a little at a time, as a treat.

-- mary (, December 27, 2001.

Use laying feed in the feeders. If you free range, use a little scratch feed or cracked corn to float their boats when you let them loose. GL!

-- Brad (, December 27, 2001.

Scratch feed is generally given as a treat and on cold winter days, especially before they roost. It has little nutritional value but does help their bodies generate heat. i take a cup full & scatter it about their litter on evenings before a cold night so not only will it help keep them warm though the night but they will also stir up their litter scratching for it.

-- Buk BUk (, December 27, 2001.

I have to take issue with the previous posts that there are no or little nutritional value in scratch. I know lots of people who use scratch exclusively and have very healthy hens (that aren't fat) laying way adequately for a family. If you are feeding kitchen scraps, excess milk, or if your hens free range some during the day, they get enough of the other vitamins, meat (from bugs or meat scraps), and minerals they need.

The only reason for using laying mash, laying pellets, or laying crumbles is to boost the egg laying rate - which is required if you are trying to make money at raising chickens. Besides, what do you think people used before they had processed laying mash???--Scratch! Just good old corn, wheat and oats.

The only reason you would not want to feed laying mash as scratch is the cost involved. It is almost twice the price of scratch and you waste so much. There will be lots down in the litter that never gets used up. If you want to have your chickens scratching about then just toss in some scratch and feed the laying mash in a hopper as usual.

As far as the therory of chickens getting fat on scratch, my guess is that it is feed in hoppers to confined birds that have no run or anywhere to excercise and just do what chickens do. Most homesteaders either free range thier birds or have adequate runs for them to get outside to scratch about in day time. Doesn't make sense anyway since scratch is all vegetable-- never saw an overweight vegaterian. Saw plenty who eat meat though - which is what is contained in laying mash/pellets/crumbles. More protien equals more calories. Just my 2 cents from experience only! Best of luck!

-- Karen (, December 27, 2001.

I usually toss a cup or two of cracked corn out in their outside pen during the day. Use laying mash inside in the feeders. Really wonder though if they could do just as well with the corn. They continue to lay through the winter 4-5 eggs a day. Have about 8 hens and a couple of roosters plus some young ones wandering around. My hubby's pigeons are in with them and suppose they are eating a lot of the mash too. Would use whole corn but think that the pigeons would have a hard time swallowing it ??? Probably not though. Mash is getting expensive...toss some kitchen scraps in too once in a while. Seem to be doing OK during this cold light or heat. Maybe I'll check into that new chicken site and see what I can do beside buying store bought mash every week !!! Guess you could say these eggs are expensive during the winter with the cost. Happy New Year !!

-- Helena (, December 28, 2001.

Layer ration is a well balanced feed. It contains grains, protein along with essential vitamins/minerals poultry need. Scratch, because it's an all grain feed, has no supplements added. It has little nutritional value. When you feed kitchen scraps to supplement the scratch you first need to eat healthful yourself (& have enough nutritional scraps) to provide a balanced diet.

As with most things, what one feeds their flock is a personal decision. Different things work for different people. Personally, i don't generate enough healthy kitchen scraps to feed my chickens to ensure they have a balanced, healthy diet. Therefore, their main ration is lay pellets along with what little comes from the kitchen and other treats.

-- Buk Buk (, December 28, 2001.

In response to the previous post...just a reminder, what is healthy for people is not always what is healthy for animals. Differant animals have differant nutritional needs and suitable feed. Also, cute how they are trying to sell the "diet" in the posts..LOL. Gez, adverstisements are EVERYWHERE!

-- Karen (, December 28, 2001.

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