Give scratch feed shortly before roosting
Q What is the best way to use scratch feed?
ANDY SAYS: It is always useful to provide the flock with a scratch feed an hour or two before going to roost. This is usually a handful of mixed corn ( right), whole wheat, dried pulses and other seeds that are scattered on the ground for the chickens to scratch about in. The exact mix is down to you and your birds’ preferences, as it is very much a treat feed.
This not only provides them with a full crop before roost (particularly useful during the longer, colder winter nights), but it initiates activity and stimulus and encourages flock cohesion, plus it keeps their toenails down too.
The other advantage of getting your flock used to a daily scratch feed is that they will respond to you bringing it to them no matter what time of day. If the scratch feed is fed within the run it means that you can attract free ranging birds back into a fixed area at any point during the day. Alternatively, providing a small quantity in the coop will bring them indoors. Both scenarios are particularly helpful if you need to catch and handle the birds during the day, or if you need to confine them earlier than their normal roost time.