Looking for a little out-of-the-ordinary treat for your flock? We all know scratch is probably a chicken’s all-time favorite, but that should be your last treat choice in the summer months. Scratch produces heat, that’s why we feed it in the winter (especially at night) to help keep them warm. Layer feed already has corn, so let’s not add fuel to the fire by giving them even more.
Instead… Try offering them rolled oats, they love it and it’s safe to feed as a treat! It’s super cheap and often sold by the pound in loose bulk feed bins. Hemp is another healthy supplement, but it’s high in protein and fattening, so just give a little. I add Hemp to the rolled oats, mix it all together and toss it to the flock mid-day. Hemp is spendy too, another reason to give them enough to add that little diamond in the rough among the oats.
The rule of thumb is starter crumbles or pellets until the first egg. Young birds are often uninterested in table scraps, but there are a few other nutritious feed sources they will eat… and actually like. After the first 3 weeks, it’s just fine to introduce a bit of grass, this is a good way to keep chicks busy, especially if they are beginning to peck each other. Just make sure to sprinkle grit around to help with digestion. At about 4 months old, I introduce hemp seed and rolled oats just to add a little extra nutrients to my young pullets diet. For no particular reason other than they like chicken scratch, I add that too. I don’t recommend adding this mix to their starter feed, they will only make a mess trying to pick out all the good stuff. I always feed supplements and treats in a separate hanging feeder. Liquid supplements mixed in their feed is certainly a plus, and I do use them for my Silkies, but they like hemp seed better and it’s a great source of protein containing a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. However, it should be fed sparingly because of the high-fat content.
As a feeding guideline, I feed four young pullets hemp seed, rolled oats, and scratch in these amounts… 2 heaping tablespoons of rolled oats per day 2 heaping tablespoons of scratch per day 2 tablespoons of hemp seed every other day. Hemp Seed is usually sold by the pound at feed stores that sell lose bulk feed, and rolled oats too! My pullets are now 7 months old and laying daily. This is the only flock I’ve supplemented with hemp seed and the first time I’ve had flawless perfect first eggs.