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The Ultimate Chicken Scratch Grain Recipe

Scratch grains help to keep chickens warm in the winter by boosting their metabolism as they work to digest the high-fat/carb grains overnight.

Dropping temperatures herald the beginning of scratch grain season for our chickens!

If yours are anything like ours, they love getting a bedtime snack of mixed grains and seeds that help to keep them warm overnight.

Digesting the grains boosts the chickens' metabolism and creates energy while they sleep which helps to keep them warm.

The Ultimate Chicken Scratch Grain Recipe

Traditionally, scratch grains consist of corn, wheat, oats and other grains. High in fat and carbs, scratch is more a "junk food" than a balanced diet....

But exactly what chickens and ducks crave heading into winter. (Kind of like us humans!)

Like junk food, too much scratch can make your chickens fat, putting them at risk for health issues.

So during the warm months, I prefer to treat my chickens with healthier snacks like garden trimmings and kitchen scraps, along with dandelion greens and other weeds.

But when the cold wind blows, it's scratch grains all around! 

Three Guidelines for Feeding Scratch Grains

Since scratch isn't nutritionally balanced and is higher in fat and carbs than regular chicken feed, it should be fed in moderation.

I use these rules when it comes to scratch grains:

  • Only feed during the cold months
  • Only feed just before bedtime
  • Only feed as 10% of my chickens' diet (about a Tablespoon or so per chicken)

In addition to providing energy to your chickens to digest overnight, scratch grains provide them entertainment in the winter when they maybe can't be out free ranging and eating grass and bugs.

I love to toss the scratch into a pile of leaves, pine needles or straw in the run and let the chickens scratch around looking for every teeny grain!

That's especially important in the winter as well because it gets them up and moving around, which also helps to keep them warm.

It also keeps them from getting bored, keeps them focused on finding the scratch grains - and quite possibly prevents them from picking on each other.

Scratch grains are available commercially pre-mixed. 

To make things even more interesting (and even a bit more nutritious) for my girls, I love to make them this "Ultimate Chicken Scratch Grain Recipe".

You can start with a commercial bagged mix, or start completely from scratch and use cracked corn, wheat, barley and oats as your base.

Ultimate Chicken Scratch Grain Recipe

Ingredients |

Bag of mixed grains (commercial scratch grains or a custom-mixed blend of wheat, oats, barley, corn, etc.)

Dried split peas

Black oil sunflower seeds

Unsalted peanuts

Pumpkin seeds

Dried unsweetened cranberries or raisins (or both!)

Cayenne Pepper

Green peas|

provide are low in fat and provide lots of vitamins including A, C and K, as well as folate and thiamin, plus protein and niacin (especially important for ducks!) 

Sunflower seeds |

provide healthy fats, Vitamin B, calcium and protein. 

Peanuts |

are another great source of niacin for your ducks who need it for strong legs and bones. They also provide healthy fats, B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium. 
Pumpkin seeds |

are thought to be a  natural wormer, guarding against an internal parasite overload. 
Cranberries |

are packed with anti-oxidants, Vitamins A and K and also help the immune system.

Raisins |

which are high in iron, help to keep bones strong and also aid digestion.

(The beauty of scratch is that since it's a treat, it doesn't need to be balanced, so I just mix everything together in roughly equal amounts.)

Cayenne Pepper |

helps improve circulation which can help to prevent frostbite.

Mix all the ingredients together in a large covered container and parcel out some "ultimate" scratch grains for your flock each evening this winter! 

They'll love the added variety in their bedtime treat, trust me. 

Buying Sources:
Dried Peas | Sunflower Seeds | Pumpkin Seeds | Peanuts | Dried Cranberries | Whole Wheat
Safflower Seeds | Millet | Oats | Barley 

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