Chicken Scratch Feed: All You Need To Know Before Feeding

Do you want to know all about chicken scratch feed? How they are different from regular feed, when should you start feeding, and how to make chicken scratch at home?

My chickens love chicken scratch feed like a delicious treat. When I spread on the coop and run floor, they start scratching and pecking like crazy machines.

Chicken raisers have various queries about scratch feed:

Do my chickens need scratch feed and grain mixture?
Is this scratch feed perfect for my flock’s nutrition?
Can my chickens digest this scratch feed? More…

After reading this guide, you will know all about chicken scratch feed. We have included the complete information about ingredients, benefits, few best products, difference from regular feed and few FAQs about chicken scratch.

Not only this, you can make this chicken scratch feed at home. Homemade chicken scratch is cheap and nutritious for chickens. Making scratch feed is easy at home, you just need to know the right recipe.

Chickens can easily digest scratch feed, but you should understand when you should feed it to your flock.

Many people who have chickens in their backyard want to give them treats. The only thing that they must be careful about is that they require a suitable chicken feeding guide

So, if you would like to provide scratch feed to your chickens, read this guide.


What Is Chicken Scratch Feed?

chicken scratch feed in a mixing bowl
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Chicken scratch feed is the mixture of various types of nutritional grains, which encourage chickens for scratching and pecking. It helps chicken learn to forage and also provide them a few extra nutrition.

Occasionally, giving chicken scratch grains helps you establish a friendly relationship with your flocks. Chicken scratch feed is a combination of many types of seeds, which chickens enjoy eating. 

The scratch feed is similar to bird food, but its price is the only difference. The pack of bird feed is pricier than the scratch feed.

Do you know the usual ingredients of chicken scratch feed? 

The recipe includes lots of ingredients, such as rolled corn, oats, barley, sunflower seeds, milo, wheat, and millet.

Are you worried about its pricing? 

A chicken scratch feed with a higher amount of sunflower or milo seed will charge a little extra. The reason is that these kinds of ingredients are a little pricey, even though you buy them at a wholesale price.

You may think that the chicken scratch food is something ready-made for us in feed bags, but it goes far beyond bagged feeds.

Many days ago, poultry farmers used to feed their chickens pellets and a balanced diet. The backyard flocks enjoy throwing additional or grownup seeds from their crops along with the extra miscellaneous feed.

Those feed might be the best poultry supplement to maintain quite a miserable diet. You can also provide a few additional chicken vitamins and supplements with their daily feed.

So, now you know that chicken scratch feed is a mixture of different types of grains that encourages chickens to search and scratch on the floor and has some good nutritional value.

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Chicken Scratch Vs. Regular Chicken Feed

Chicken scratch feed is different from regular packed feed. The chicken scratch is the grain mixture which is given to flocks to overcome the nutrition deficiencies in flocks.

The regular feed is a well-balanced mixture of grains which is given daily for their optimum performance and production.

Before you give scratch feed to your chickens, make sure they are at the right age and type. You should make two comparisons, which are: Chicks Vs Hen or Egg Layer Vs Meat Bird.

For example, to understand the concept better, you know that an amount of 16% layer feed will generate 16% protein in a single grownup chicken. 

This is the amount which is essential for the healthy and productive life of your chicken members. Every so often, you may have seen that fiber and fat content alteration at the time of manufacturer’s preparation.

Here is the list of the ingredients that are available in chicken scratch feed:

  • Rolled corn
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Milo
  • Wheat
  • Millet

You will also find the following chemical ingredients, such as:

  • Selenium
  • Copper Sulfate
  • Ferrous Sulfate
  • Vital amino acids (methionine)

You will also find other supplemental ingredients which are available at a large variety of vitamins and, of course, calcium carbonate for shell making.

When the time changes, the demand for chicken scratch feed has increased. Your flocks will consider this scratch feed as a treat. They find it delicious as it shortages decent and healthy nutritional material.

You will get 8-9% protein equivalency in this feed. Further, the amount of nutrition percentage is massively negligible to the feed content.

You may take these ideas for real:

  1. Regular Starter, Finisher chicken feed is considered as a balanced meal. It is given daily in a required amount.
  2. Chicken scratch is a kind of food, just like French fries and soda. So, you need to give it twice in a week like a treat.

Proving special treats for humans and animals is quite different. You should not provide scratch feed more than the basic need to your chickens. 

Giving more than required quantity won’t give them the proper nutrition. That is why you should not develop the support of their diet with chicken scratch feed.

Your hens need a good balance added to their diet as they lay eggs, go broody, hatch eggs and raise baby chicks. A good diet is vital if you wish to keep them healthy and strong enough for laying when your hens are not given a proper diet that may not protect their nutritional needs.

You may notice several changes in their behavior. The first thing is that you may see that they stop laying eggs, or even if they lay, the eggs you will get are soft-shelled or shell-less.

The body of your hens will take necessary nutrition as per the needs. They do so to maintain noble fitness. If you do not feed them with a proper diet, they will become shabby and may see molting.

You may notice the dull eyes, depressed demeanor, and lack of energy among the hens. So, you can see that a balanced diet is key to the health and welfare of your flock. 

You can treat them in the best way, but in small amounts and preferably not every day. If you want specific information about scratch feed formulations, keep reading this article.

Benefits of Giving Scratch Feed or Grain Mixture to Chickens

The chicken scratch feed has many benefits. You can change the habit of their diet by adding something little different and delicious apart from the regular diet of the chickens. 

chickens eating scratch grains
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You can see their very interest when your pullets find the unique taste of their feed. The list given below will show you the benefits of feeding scratch grains for chickens:

  1. Farmers provide scratch feed to enhance the training of finding the food. So, it indirectly makes chickens active foragers.
  2. This also helps your chicken to go to bed on time. Supply it in the evening for better results.
  3. You can perform the clean-up of your coop by spreading the chicken scratch feed on the coop floor. Want to know the easiest chicken coop cleaning process, here is the complete guide.
  4. In cold seasons, the addition of scratch feed will be very beneficial because of its high protein and carbohydrate quantity, it keeps the flock’s body warm. Here is our complete guide to keep chickens warm in winters.

How to Go for Chicken Scratch Feed?

You must have gained insight into the difference between chicken scratch and regular feed. Furthermore, you just need to understand when to feed chicken scratch and when not.

It would be helpful if you give chicken scratch feed in a balanced way. This feed is an economical solution that your hens can’t stop without admiring it. 

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Some questions to understand all about chicken scratch food strategies:

When to Give Chicken Scratch Grains to Flocks?

Many farmers choose to supply their hens with chicken scratch to build their trust. By doing so, you can easily explain to your birds what to eat from their hands.

This is an important process to go through. The habit of their gathering can help the farmers to collect their eggs more easily in the future. 

If you still haven’t tried yet, then you must go for it. This is the most effective method for teaching your flocks about gathering and pecking around.

It would be helpful to provide your chickens with the scratch feed when you are trying to teach them new tricks, such as free-ranging or special commands. 

How Much To Feed Chicken Scratch?

As you know, chicken scratch has an inferior nutritional value. However, you do not know its importance. You should add the diet with perfect planning for your chickens.

When you prepare the grain mixture and then add the feed primarily, this is made up from scratch. You should involve the food within the diet by doing it carefully.

You should not add scratch feed more than 10% to the regular diet of your chickens. Since scratch feed contains many types of ingredients, it is not good for their health if fed daily.

How Often to Feed Chicken Scratch Feed to Flocks?

Chicken scratch food is almost like chicken treats. You can feed them morning and evening once as a rewarding treat.

Giving chicken scratch in the morning make them active and teach them to scratch. Giving in the evening provides them an extra nutrient because they don’t eat for the next 12 hours.

Given chicken scratch grains in winters during evening time is significant, as it keeps their body warm and healthy.

Homemade Chicken Scratch Feed Ingredient and Recipe Formula

The homemade chicken scratch feed is one of the best options to keep your chickens healthy. This saves you money, healthy, no chemicals, and easy to give. 

Chickens love scratch grain mixture made at home. Finding scratch grains in local farms and making the recipe at home is one of the most remarkable experience.

Making a good quality chicken scratch by combining natural seeds and grains is a good way to feed your chickens. They will admire the food you are offering, even though it may not look very appealing.

Below are the chicken scratch feed ingredients with recipe, which should be taken into a mixing bowl:

  • Wheat = 1 part
  • Cracked corn = 1 part
  • Sunflower seeds = 1 part
  • Split peas = 1 part
  • Barley = 1 part
  • Oats = 1 part

If you want to make your chicken scratch feed a little more nutritious, add the below things in your recipe in small amount:

  • Dried cranberries
  • Raisins
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Peanuts

Is Chicken Scratch Good For My Chickens?

Is chicken scratch good for my chickens?
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Are you still in confusion about whether your chickens need scratch feed or not?

Chicken scratch feed is good for chickens as a treat. They should not be added to their daily diet.

They are less nutritious than your chicken’s daily diet. So, never replace chicken scratch with regular chicken feed.

Moreover, it encourages chickens to scratch and makes them active. Giving chicken scratch grains to your chickens weekly twice or thrice is sufficient.

Scratch feed is not a balanced feed; its mixture of grains works like a treat when your flocks are getting bored. 

So, you can say it is fast food for chickens which is only for occasional treats, but yes, it is good for them.

Chicken Scratch: Summary

Now you know that chicken scratch is good for your chickens, but as a treat. It should be given in moderation and occasionally.

It is not an alternative to daily chicken food as it has almost 9% of protein source. The regular balanced chicken feed is always best.

Chicken scratch is best for lazy and stressed chickens. As it makes them bust in scratching and release their stress by scratching and pecking.

Homemade chicken scratch are better than packed one, but if you want to avoid making scratch feed at home, buying a packed one is the only option.

My chickens love scratching and pecking on scratch feed, and I feed them twice in a week. If you are already giving chicken scratch to your flocks, share your recipe below.

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Hi, I'm Bijaya Kumar, and I've been raising chickens for the last 12 years. For the past 30 years, backyard poultry farming has been a family business for us. We raise chickens of different breeds in the backyard.

2 thoughts on “Chicken Scratch Feed: All You Need To Know Before Feeding”

  1. very informative. I am new to chickens. So what would be a good layer feed to make if I need to make it? Times are getting tuff

    • Hi, thanks for writing here,
      Always provide feed with 40% of protein and must contain calcuim and other vitamin source. You can ask you nearest local store they will provide you some best feed for egg laying chickens.


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