Frequently Asked Questions
Recent research shows that due to over consumption of soy in our regular diets many people are beginning to develop allergies and other sensitivities. The Weston A Price Foundation provides a great summary of why we should be more cautious with soy in our diets.
The “powder” left behind is all the little bits of grain that gets crushed, limestone (calcium), and other nutrients like probiotics, protein, vitamins and minerals. Because our feed is as unprocessed as possible we do not add unnecessary binders or heat-treat the feed to get the ingredients to stick together. This powder is all natural and great for your chickens. Help them finish it off by adding to a treat like oatmeal or rice or just add a bit of moisture to it so they can eat it. The type of feeder you use is also very important. We suggest using a trough style chicken feeder to help contain these fines. These types of feeders have proven very successful with our customers! Another great way to maximize the value of our feed and get your chickens to consume all the “fines” is to try Fermenting Feed!
GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE). This experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.
We want to avoid GMOs because we are concerned about potential health consequences, unsustainable farming practices, unethical business practices and the gaping lack of proof that they are safe. In most of the developed world, GMOs are viewed as dangerous because the data to prove their safety simply does not exist.
We believe the onus of proof of safety is on the side of biotechnology and until then we choose not to support their use. We believe it is best to leave our food supply in the hands of Mother Nature. We also rigorously support the labeling of any GMO products so the American public can be informed as to what they are eating.
The verification seal indicates that the product bearing the seal has gone through the Non-GMO Project’s (NGP) verification process. Their verification is an assurance that a product has been produced according to consensus-based best practices for GMO avoidance:
- NGP requires ongoing testing of all at-risk ingredients—any ingredient being grown commercially in GMO form must be tested prior to use in a verified product.
- NGP uses an Action Threshold of 0.9%. This is in alignment with laws in the European Union, where any product containing more than 0.9% GMO must be labeled. Absence of all GMOs is the target for all Non-GMO Project Standard compliant products. Continuous improvement practices toward achieving this goal must be part of the Participant’s quality management systems.
- After the test, NGP requires rigorous traceability and segregation practices to be followed in order to ensure ingredient integrity through to the finished product.
- For low-risk ingredients, NGP conducts a thorough review of ingredient specification sheets to determine absence of GMO risk.
- Verification is maintained through an annual audit, along with onsite inspections for high-risk products.
Shopping organic is a great step towards ensuring that your family eats the healthiest foods possible. The challenge is that although GMOs are an excluded method under the National Organic Program, organic certification does not require GMO testing. Choosing products that are Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified is the best way to make sure you are getting the safest, healthiest, highest-quality food for your animals and your family.
Grit should always be a part of your feeding regimen, even if you have a gravel driveway for the chickens to pick from. For Scratch and Peck Feeds customers especially, ensuring that your birds have a well stocked supply of grit ensures that they will get the most nutrition out of their whole and cracked grains.
The chicken gizzard is the most powerful muscle in the body – but it can only do its job with the aid of the right sized grit. The more a bird is foraging – eating green grasses and bugs – the more grit it needs to process its diet and get the most food value out that free range goodness. Grit helps keep the digestion process flowing and reduces the chances of impaction.
Feed efficiency, the measure of how a bird utilizes and benefits from the feed, has been shown to improve by giving the birds free choice access to grit. Even pasture raised broilers can benefit significantly from the right sized grit in their diet, with heavier weights of up to a pound more at slaughter and less feed used per pound of gain. Layer feed trials have shown increased egg production by almost ten percent, and decreased the amount of feed needed per dozen eggs by about seven percent. Do the right thing by your flock – don’t leave grit up to chance! Head to our blog to read more about why chickens need grit.
Yes! Whole grains in their natural state are more nutritious than ground, since oxidation occurs after grinding, reducing nutritional content; the longer the ground grain sits around, the greater the loss. Chickens digest whole grains by grinding them up in their gizzard. In order to get the maximum nutritional value out of your feed be sure to always offer an appropriate sized grit.
You can plan on a hen eating 1/4 to 1/3 pound of a complete feed every day.
Feel free to supplement their daily feed ration with either 3-Grain Scratch or Scratch n’ Corn. To promote a better conversion ratio and to help ensure that your birds are receiving the maximum nutritional value of their feed, consider the following mixture of grit and wheat.
Jeff Mattocks. “True Grit: the Lowdown on an Important Avian Supplement” APPPA Grit Issue 58 July-August 2010
“Consider offering whole wheat in a separate feeder mixed with grit, in a ratio of 4 parts wheat to 1 part appropriately sized grit. This will encourage the birds to eat more, increase feed availability and cut down on your prepared feed expense. You should not see any decrease in weight gains or feed efficiency. The birds love it! This can be started with turkeys at 8 weeks, broilers at 5 weeks and layers throughout summer when on good range as they will all balance their own diets pretty well.”
Yes, all ages of ducks, geese, and waterfowl can use our chicken feed. The amount of feed varies for different types of birds. Ducks eat (and drink!) more than chickens and have different development phases, requiring slightly adjusted feeding guidelines. From day 1 through week 4, our Naturally Free Starter is a great choice. You’ll notice an increase in growth (and food consumption) at week four so protein should be decreased to the level of either the Soy Free Grower or Naturally Free Grower. On average, ducks will begin laying eggs at around 20 weeks so you may switch them to one of our Soy Free Layer or Naturally Free Layer feeds around 18-20 weeks of age. If raising broilers (meat ducks), feed your ducklings Grower from 4 weeks to finish at around 8 weeks.
In order to make pellets the grain is exposed to a high heat, steam process which we believe can degrade the nutritional value of the ingredients. We endeavor to offer feeds that are as close to nature as possible.
Unlike many pelletized feeds, our feeds are whole grain and contain no preservatives. When grains are left in their whole and uncracked state, they have an extensive shelf life. We recommend a six-month shelf life on most of our feeds because we add nutritious fish meal and vegetable oils that increase Omega-3. We recommend a three-month shelf life for our Starter feeds because we grind the grain to aid in digestibility for younger birds. Our 3-Grain Scratch, however, contains no added oils or fish meal and therefore can be stored longer. Read our blog post for full details, “Spoil Your Birds – Not Your Feed“.
No. Medication found in starter feeds acts as a preventative measure to control Cocci – protozoa that cause Coccidiosis. Cocci are found virtually anywhere chickens are found. Chicks in small-scale flocks are routinely exposed to normal numbers of Cocci. That is good, as it triggers their immune systems to develop natural resistance.
Amprolium is the name of the medication used in chick feed to treat Cocci infections. If chicks need exposure to develop natural immunity we question the wisdom of routinely feeding medication to control the Cocci.
While chicks raised under highly stressful “factory” conditions would not survive without medication, it is not necessary for the well-managed backyard flock. However, it is not uncommon for an infection to occur with even the most well managed, clean and well fed backyard flock.
Since there is no demonstrated need for such additives we oppose their routine feeding “just in case”. Excess feeding of anti-microbials can lead to resistance on the part of bacteria which in the long run can make them less effective. They may leave residues in future eggs (despite industry reassurances to the contrary) and will eventually disperse into the environment with unknown, long term effects.
The best way to avoid Coccidiosis is to manage the birds’ environment. Keep it clean & dry and maintain feeders & waterers. Our feeds contain probiotocs to help bolster chicks’ natural defenses. Yogurt, buttermilk or raw milk can be used as well to build healthy, good bacteria in their guts for added benefit.
1-2 Tablespoons of raw, organic apple cider vinegar per gallon of fresh water aids in digestion and keeps the water clean of harmful bacteria.
If, by chance, your chicks become ill try offering them raw milk for about an hour each day for 5-7 days. The beneficial bacteria found in raw milk should help them recover.
Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) has long been hailed for its human health benefits and it can do wonders for your chickens too. It is made from nutritious organically grown apples and retains many of the fruits’ beneficial components because it is not pasteurized. The fermentation process produces enzymes and life giving nutrients that make ACV a powerhouse for you and your chickens! It is best to use raw apple cider vinegar containing “the mother” which makes the vinegar so beneficial. The “mother” is made up living nutrients and bacteria. You can see it settled in the bottom of the bottle like sediment which occurs naturally as strand-like enzymes of connected protein molecules.
Using apple cider vinegar in various ways around your flock and coop can do the following:
• Improve the digestive health of your chickens by maintaining proper pH balance in the digestive tract
• May increase egg production
• Kill germs that cause respiratory illnesses among chickens
• Keep your chickens’ water free of harmful bacteria
• Eliminate mold, mildew, dust, and odors from your chicken coop
• Disinfect your chicken coop and your chickens’ feeding and watering system
• Repel flies and ants
• Act as an abrasive for difficult-to-clean surfaces such as brooders, window panes, and cages.
Giving your chickens apple cider vinegar directly:
Adding apple cider vinegar directly to your chickens’ drinking water can help to maintain digestive health by lowering the pH in their stomach. It can also act as an antiseptic, killing any harmful mucus or bacteria in the throat that can cause respiratory ailments. Some folks report that feeding chickens apple cider vinegar increases egg production. To add apple cider vinegar to your chickens’ water use organic, raw, unfiltered, and unpasteurized vinegar, such as Bragg’s. Use four teaspoons of apple cider vinegar for each gallon of water. CAUTION: Never add ACV to a galvanized metal waterer as it will poison your chickens. Always use plastic!
Using apple cider vinegar to clean your chicken coop, feeders, and waterers:
You can use apple cider vinegar to clean your chicken coop walls, floors, roof, windows, feeder, and waterer. Just add a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to a spray bottle filled with water. The raw, unfiltered, and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar is always best, but for cleaning purposes, any type of apple cider vinegar will work. To clean with apple cider vinegar, just spray any dirty surface with your solution and wipe clean with a rag or towel. Frequent cleaning with apple cider vinegar will disinfect any surface and prevent mold, mildew, dust, and unpleasant odors from building up in your coop. Many homesteaders report that cleaning the chickens’ area with apple cider vinegar prevents flies and ants from congregating around chickens as well.
Using apple cider vinegar as an abrasive cleaner:
Apple cider vinegar makes a great abrasive cleaner for areas like cages, cracks, and brooders that may get particularly dirty but are difficult to clean effectively. Mixing apple cider vinegar with coarse sea salt will help to safely rub off any build-up on dirty surfaces. Or try mixing baking soda with a small amount of water to scrub surfaces thoroughly and then spray with an apple cider vinegar solution to disinfect.
If you have several chickens at various stages of development how should you regulate the feed? Chicks and developing pullets (not yet laying hens) can be harmed by the high calcium needed for egg production. Some chicken owners wonder how to avoid harming their growing birds without ending up with soft/no shell eggs from their laying hens. The Scratch and Peck recommendation is this: Feed according to the youngest members of the flock.
If you have young chicks, less than 8 weeks old integrated with an older flock, feed everyone Chick Starter. If your youngest members are Developing Pullets (growing and not yet laying) we suggest feeding everyone our Naturally-Free Grower. Provide free-choice Oyster Shell to the hens who need the calcium for their eggshell development. They will naturally self regulate their consumption of oyster shell and the pullets will begin eating it as their development progresses.
Once all birds are laying use Soy-Free Layer or Naturally-Free Layer as it contains the necessary calcium for proper egg shell development. Keep offering free-choice Oyster Shell and always offer free-choice Grit to all ages of birds!
First, we’ll preface this with a blanket disclaimer – all hens are different. Even the best of breeds will sometimes not accept chicks. Timing is important – best to use 5 day old or less chicks for the fostering – and do it towards the evening. Hold the chick in your hand, cupped up, and reach under the hen like you are going to steal an egg away.
Instead, you deposit the little bundle of fun, and repeat. Place chicks under the hen, never in front of her. Also, very important to do this with a hen who has exhibited a clear desire to hatch her chicks – to be safe, she should be broody for at least a week if not a little longer.
Evening hours are important because she is more relaxed. It also helps to have the broody in a pen that can be enclosed to prevent any chicks from wandering away that first night. Good luck!
The changes that happen in a seed when it sprouts are amazing. Complex compounds become simple compounds, vitamin levels rise, especially Vitamin C. The digestibility of the nutrients increases, allowing you to get more feed value for your dollar. Now spouting grains doesn’t result in a complete feed – you still need a well balanced layer ration – but will certainly benefit your flock, especially in the off season months. Depending on light conditions and temperature, it will take between a week to two weeks to grow your sprouts to a point that you can feed it. For chicks, it is best to feed when the leaves are 1-2 inches high. For adult poultry, 6 inches is the optimum height and level of maturity. Make sure you are feeding grit or have it available free choice, as the birds will need it to help process the grass and grains.
Sprouting grains is a great way to add both diversity and cost savings to your feeding program. Poultry crave fresh green grass, just like we dig into a garden salad. Especially in the winter months when there is little to forage on outside, sprouting a tray of barley, wheat, or oats is a great way to supplement your hen’s layer feed. While poultry does not digest green forage with the same efficiency that a ruminant does, it certainly influences the health of the animal positively and will make the egg produced have a darker orange yolk.
We created some handy guides for our feed supplements and grit to help you decide which products you need to feed and when.
Due to processing limitations as well as ingredient formulations for our feeds, we determined that we are unable to produce as high of a quality starter feed for turkey chicks as the standards set by our other products. Turkey chicks require a very high protein percentage which we were unable to meet with our ingredients.
Turkey chicks need a considerably higher protein content than chickens. If you are raising heritage breeds we recommend a minimum of 28% protein; standard breeds at 23%.
You can use a mixture of fish meal and other high protein sources to increase the percentage. If you decide to use fish meal add 1lb to 20lbs of feed to increase 1%. We caution against using only fish meal as it may cause off flavoring.