Scratch is just a treat; the chicken's equivalent of candy. It's not "feed" per se. Usually it's just corn or oats, and you use it to bring the chickens in or to get them to stir up their litter or just, as I said, as a treat. Chicken grower or layer meal or pellets are a balanced "meal." Though I think bugs and weeds really balance out the diet best...
Ok. I thought it would be cheaper than feed, but it's a smaller bag. I just through a bit of 'grower' on the ground for them to scratch at. The chickens that do go and 'free range' just come back to the coop in the evening, so I don't worry about trying to get them in. I was at the feed store to pick up 'grower' feed so I did get a bag of 'scratch' and gave them a hand full - they did seem to like it.
You know everybody has a different way of growing their chicks! I use only Grower starter for the first 12 weeks! Then I switch gradually to Scratch and Cracked corn! I like to let them range but during Garden season I keep them Penned! I do ,however ,pull weeds and grass clippings and give that to them in their Yard! Just like my grandma used to do! I always have fat healthy Hens and they lay beautifully! Ive never had a growth or a laying problem.
No I dont believe in Laying Mash either, too afraid of growth harmones or Chemicals getting in the Eggs!
Now if you are growing meat chickens for the freezer you may want to do the grower longer.
But My Chicks live on cracked corn and Scratch just fine with no problems. Sometimes I believe the OLd ways are the best! Adding kitchen scraps helps out too!
Kitchen scraps and weeds are really great for chickens, and they use up less of their feed when I've got lots of both for them. I don't like what's in the conventional layer mash, either, Eufaula. I bought some from the local farm bureau once and the smell of it was so, I don't know, *dead,* it about made me sick. I get my organic layer feed (smells sort of like sweet hay) from a dealer nearby who also buys eggs from me, so my hens pay for their feed. (Which is good, because it's expensive feed.)
I can't find the thread where someone was asking me what was in our layer feed, and I've just found the ingredients. You can *see* most of the ingredients anyway, but:
Organic field peas, wheat, corn, oats, calcium carbonate, flaxseed, alfalfa meal, fish meal, dried kelp, a bunch of yoghurty-sounding cultures and yeasts, and lots of vitamins. http://www.countrysidenatural.com/feeds.htm
My hens love left over cooked pasta, kidney beans, brown rice, and grapes! They aer CRAZY about grapes! They love getting a squash or gourd as a treat in the winter. It gives them something to do as well as being tasty.
Zeppy, when you say you grow those things around their coop, do you mean outside the coop where they can't get at it or inside? Do chickens leave things like this alone or do they eat it as it grows? Seems to me if it was the latter, it would never get very big.
I'm trying to learn as much as I can about poultry as I want to get chickens, a couple ducks and a couple geese next year. I have a duck house (hope to put the geese in there too) but have to get a coop built still.
Oh you will just love your hens! It is a great thing to have chickens :) They are very charming. The great thing is that they are also very easy going, so I'm sure you'll do fine. Your library or bookstore will probably have a few different books on how to enjoy a backyard flock.
Of course you can also ask anything here. I'm so delighted to have found other chicken lovers here. I've learned so much already!
I've been reading books on chickens and ducks/geese (mostly chickens tho) for about 2-3 years.
What I can't figure out is how much damage they will do to a garden. It seems I see a lot of people that have chickens wandering their yards and these are people with flowers and stuff. (We have extensive flower gardens here as well as large expanses of lawn and a little woodsy area too.) The vegies are all fenced off with the exception of the tomatoes (I plant them in different spots from year to year so they won't necessarily be in that spot next year when the chickens arrive.)
The ducks will be in a large lawn area with a small pond. There is a flower bed along one side. Will that flower area be toast? It has annuals and some perennials, some bulbs. They have access to a woodsy area. The previous owners had ducks and said the split rail fence was enough to keep them inside, altho if they wanted, they could easily go thru it seemed to me. We're planting roses along the outside of that fence so eventually it'll be harder to get thru for all the brambles and thorns but that won't be for a long time.
The chickens will be in a fenced in area (chicken wire fencing) with a coop house, but I'd let them free range throughout the property (2.5 acres) during at least part of the day if they won't ruin stuff. And I'd love to plant inside their fenced area to make it look nice (weeds now but also lots of pretty daisies that grow as weeds) but is that just a waste of money? Is there anything I could plant ahead and let it grown up that they'd leave alone?
Gwen, I plant mostly outside the fence but plant kales and borage inside but sort of in a "cage" of bent chicken or other wire, so they can eat the greens but not down to the ground, nor scratch there. They don't eat the sunflower plant, just the seeds when they drop.
I love letting them free range and I think it's okay if they have lots of winter-sun, summer-shade areas to forage in. They love bushes. They love going under decks. They also love pooping on decks and walkways and benches and swingsets. I understand that banties do much, much less damage, and that makes sense to me, because generally my birds don't do harm until they start getting full-size(4-5 months old). Then the power in those legs kicks in and all mulch is quickly thrown out of beds and into the grass, delicate plants get trampled, and anything edible is shredded. So: if your gardens are sort of neat with careful borders and you wish to keep them that way, don't free range your birds! If yours is a more relaxed garden, certainly, try letting them range. But I should warn you: my heavy chickens have completely flattened my euphorbia and lily-of-the valley, un-mulched an entired perennial bed, dug several "dust bowls" in the yard, and exposed spring bulbs to the elements.
Hence, we have made them two large chicken yards with 7 foot fence.
Yeah, the books that say "few standard size chickens will attempt to fly over a 4 foot fence" really confuse me. If you've got chickens inside a fence looking at ripe tomatoes outside of the fence, they'll do their darnedest to get over.
the last time i had fowl (geese; chickens; ducks), they were true free-range, and found their own lodging each night. the dogs kept the coyotes away from the house.
now i've been given two year-old "layers:" a RRR--"cleo" (probably not purebred) and a barred--"louise." i wanted to get layer-feed, and a gal who went with me to get them (i'd given her grapes) had had chickens for EVER so long, and said scratch would be fine. (said gal also gives her chickies marshmallows--they do like them, and...er...[ahem].
the girls laid for the first day or so (i got them last week), and that was that. so...off to the feed-store... plus, they pretty much ignore the scratch, as far as i can see.
i have a welded-wire hoop i made to let them prowl the lot. they eat the grass and chickweed, along with assorted critters (a grasshopper elicits much excited clucking).
the barred loves the concords. the red follows the barred and eats the leavings (guess she'd as soon let the barred do all the hard work). both like chokecherries from my tree. they also like green beans. they ignored the oats and shells from boiled eggs i gave them this morning (my finch loves eggshell...).
back to reading--since these two ladies were given me six months before i'd planned on chickens, they're in need of "real" housing (right now they're in a chain-link kennel rigged w/ tarp, corrugated roofing, and two dog-houses...with makeshift perches). tonight i looked in on them and both were atop the 'houses. hehe.
My chickens, ducks, geese and other fowl get all leftovers of the fruit or veggie type..No waste here.. I guess their favorite would have to be watermelon & cateloupe halves..They love the fruits and seeds especially.. We produce farm all kinds of veggies on about 700 acres year round.. |We have lots of surplus and extras for all the critters..Goats too..lots of work, but sure saves on the feed bill..Mine also love the wild bir seed as a treat..Goats included.I even cut the dried corn stalks out in the field once the combine is finished with the corn..I get all I can cut before the plows hit them..