Chicken Health / Chickens

Layer Feed and Organic Scratch

I had kept all of my chickens on 19% protein grower feed and offered calcium free-choice in the form of oyster shell.  Layer ration contains calcium which is damaging to birds who are not laying.  Other than the feather picking, it has worked quite well.  While two of my girls have not begun laying and are over 8 months old, it may simply be because they were bred more for show than production.  Those pullets who had begun laying in the fall continued to lay, if less frequently, through the winter (despite fewer hours of daylight), and have picked up considerably as the days have lengthened.  My Ameraucanas have even begun laying more readily, although their eggs are a bit bloody.  I hope their bodies adjust to laying soon, because the eggs are otherwise quite pretty.

Silver Ameraucana egg on the right

A week and a half ago, I decided to switch them over to layer feed as everyone – excepting the two overdue pullets and two roosters – is laying at least irregularly at this point.  Countryside Organics’ layer feed is 17% protein and contains kelp, alfalfa, and Nutri-Balancer.  I hope that the additional nutrients will help with the feather-picking.  (The three picked birds are regrowing some feathers and don’t seem to be missing anything new, so perhaps it is.  Fingers crossed.)

I had been giving them Purina scratch because it was easy to buy in town and they eat so little of it, but I would rather that their food was entirely organic.  So, I picked up a bag of Countryside’s scratch as well, which is just organic cracked corn, wheat, and oats.  They were actually playing keep-away with the little grains of scratch, so they must have liked that.

I really like Countryside’s feed, but there are a lot of fines (nearly dust-like, finely ground bits which are hard for the chickens to eat), both in the feeds and the scratch.  Still, I don’t have a lot of waste, and the birds show a definite preference for the organic food.  When switching to a new feed, I mix the new with what is left of the old.  With both the scratch and the feed last summer, the chickens have picked out the organic feed first.  I prefer it, and seemingly, so do they.

Here’s to the weekend.  I am still relatively free as my final semester is just picking up.  A teacher, I am so looking forward to a summer without grad school, the first in three years.  But today, I am just going to soak up this winter sun, watch my chickens, and read on the couch.  Ahh, the greatest luxury: time.

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12 thoughts on “Layer Feed and Organic Scratch

  1. My chicks prefer the Countryside as well except for the scratch. I tried a bag of Purina Scratch and they seem to prefer that. I found a lot of full grain of corn which they did not care for that much in the Countryside Scratch. They ingredients aren’t quite as good, but they like the Purina best. I had a coupon for Purina so I tried the pellets and they eat them rarely. So I decided to mix and match and that seems to be working better.

    • I think mixing and matching is a great idea. You can boost the nutrition while keeping the cost low. I had actually considered doing that with feed at one point. I was going to mix 2/3 organic with 1/3 gamebird breeder feed, but I decided not to because I wanted a greater understanding of their nutrition before I played around with it. I think that mixing scratch is a great way to experiment because it is just a small treat, so it can just be tasty and any nutrition is a bonus.

  2. Those are field peas. My Guineas seem to not like them. Kind of sad being that its a big part of the protein content. It might just be the pieces that are big that they leave.

    I’m going to start my chick on Countryside Chick feed, if they ever decide to leave their shells 😉 non-medicated.

    It’s weird, my old flock did not like the feed that actually looks like real whole food. But they were raise on pellets and crumble. It was a different brand called Cascade Feed from Azure Standard. (We used to live in California)

  3. I read something recently about peas actually being bad for chickens, something about tryptin (sp) and illness… IDK have to do some research to backtrack and find it…

      • Thanks for the link! I knew I had heard something about peas, too. In your same article, it says that the Trypsin inhibitors can be destroyed by “keeping them at or above 180°F (82°C) for at least 15 minutes.” I wonder if that is done by the feed company. I just checked, and field peas are actually the first listed ingredient in my feed. Well, I’ll have to think about it. I don’t know of any other readily available organic feeds, so I may be stuck unless I decide to mix my own feed. Health has seemed good; they’ve put on weight on schedule and are generally ‘bright-eyed and bushy-tailed’. What have you been feeding? Do you like it?

  4. Pingback: Feeding Breeders « Scratch Cradle

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