photo of a chicken in a pen Chicken scratch, making chicken scratch, winter feed for chickens, Chicken scratch for laying hens by Rosevine Cottage Girls

Homemade Chicken Scratch Recipe

Homemade chicken scratch is a nutritious and cost-effective way to provide your backyard flock with a wholesome treat. This mix typically consists of grains like cracked corn, oats, barley, and seeds such as sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.

By making your own homemade chicken scratch, you have control over the ingredients, ensuring that your chickens receive a balanced diet that supplements their regular chicken feed. 


Not only does it offer essential nutrients, but it also serves as a great source of entertainment for your feathered friends, as they love to peck and scratch around for the tasty morsels.


You can adjust the ingredients based on what you have available or what your chickens prefer. It’s important to offer chicken scratch in moderation, as it should not replace their main feed but rather be given as a supplement or treat. 


By providing homemade chicken scratch, you can promote the overall health and happiness of your chickens while also enjoying the satisfaction of knowing exactly what goes into their diet.


What Is Homemade Chicken Scratch?


Chicken scratch is a type of feed commonly given to chickens to supplement their diet. It usually consists of a mixture of grains such as cracked corn, barley, wheat, and oats. It also can include sunflower seeds, peanuts oyster shells, and even flowers and herbs that help promote egg-laying, respiratory health, and the general health of your birds.


Chickens enjoy scratching around in the dirt to find food, so the term “chicken scratch” or “scratch grains” comes from their behavior of scratching and pecking at the ground to find the small grains that have been tossed for them to eat. This feed provides chickens with essential nutrients and energy to support their overall health and egg production. 


Is Chicken Scratch Bad For Chickens?


This is a question we see often from new chicken keepers, and the answer is no. Homemade chicken scratch is good to supplement your chickens’ diet during the cold winter months to help keep the chickens warm and healthy. It is not needed during the summer months to supplement layer feed, especially in very hot climates. 


Chicken scratch. How to make chicken scratch, Chicken Scratch for Laying Hens, by Rosevine Cottage Girls


Guidelines For Feeding Homemade Chicken Scratch


Since homemade chicken scratch isn’t nutritionally balanced like chicken feed is, it’s also higher in fat and carbs than regular chicken feed, which means it should only be fed in moderation.


Here are the guidelines we use for feeding homemade chicken scratch to our flock:

  • We only feed homemade chicken scratch during the cold months
  • Only feed homemade chicken scratch just before bedtime
  • Only feed homemade chicken scratch as 10% of our chickens’ diet


In addition to providing energy for your chickens to digest overnight helping to keep them warm, scratch grains provide them boredom busters in the winter getting them up and moving which will also help to keep them warm. 


How much scratch you feed your flock will depend on the number of birds you have. For about 10 chickens you feed homemade chicken scratch to them at a rate of approximately a 1/2 cup a day or 2 1/2 tsp a day per chicken. 


What Age Can I Feed Homemade Chicken Scratch?


You can feed them homemade chicken scratch at about 12 weeks of age in small amounts in addition to their complete feed. Though for a young baby chick still under a heat source this should not be necessary at all.


Can You Sprout Chicken Scratch?


Yes, you can sprout your homemade chicken scratch to create fodder for your flock if you want to. I would recommend starting with a small amount and seeing if your flock will eat it. 


When To Feed Chickens Chicken Scratch


This is really up to you. We give our birds homemade chicken scratch just before we lock them up for the night in their chicken coop. This way they have something in their system overnight to process and keep them warm. Here in Tennessee, we don’t get as brutally cold as some of our neighboring states but it still can get pretty cold.


It’s nice to have this to feed our birds so we know they’ll be staying nice and warm as they process the whole grains.


Homemade Chicken Scratch


To make your own homemade chicken scratch you will need:

A  50 lb bag of Oats
1- 50 lb bag of Wheat
1- 50 lb bag of Non- GMO Corn (optional)
A 50 lb bag of Millet
1 -5 lb bag of Crushed Oyster Shell

*These amounts can be adjusted down if you only have a couple of birds.

Pour all the ingredients into a wheelbarrow or trailer into a lawnmower, and mix until grains are well combined. Store in a rodent-proof container, we like to use a clean trash can capable of storing 200+ LBS at a time. 


Optional Chicken Scratch Add-Ins:


You can add Mealworms, Sunflower Seeds, Dried Marigolds flowers, Garlic Powder, Brewer’s Yeast, Diatomaceous Earth, Sea Kelp, and Dried Herbs: Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Pineapple Sage, Spearmint, Tarragon, Dill, Basil, Cilantro, Cayenne, Lavender, Thyme, Unsweetened Raisins, Unsweetened Cranberries, Peanuts, Green Peas, Pumpkin Seeds, Unsalted Peanuts, Barley, or Borage for added nutrition and health benefits (you can read more about using herbs for chickens in this article) to your homemade chicken scratch.


Sourcing Ingredients For Homemade Chicken Scratch


You’ll find many of these items at a local feed mill, possibly a farm store like Farmer’s Co-op would carry many of these items as well. In a pinch, Amazon is a good source for buying items like mealworms, diatomaceous earth, kelp, and even dried herbs. 

We like to get all our ingredients from a local mill so that we can support the farms around us. Try finding one in your area! If you don’t have one check with your local feed supply.




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