Give scratch feed shortly be­fore roost­ing

Country Smallholding - - Poultry Pen -

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.

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