Can Chickens Eat Corn

Can Your Chickens Enjoy a Corny Treat? Cracking the Kernel



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As a backyard chicken owner for over 5 years now, this is easily one of the most common questions I get from readers.

And the short answer is: Yes, absolutely chickens can and do eat corn!

In fact, corn can be a nutritious and delicious snack for chickens when fed properly and in moderation.

But before you start throwing unlimited piles of corn into your coop, there are some important details you need to know.

For example, what kinds of corn can chickens eat?

How much should they eat?

What are the health benefits and risks? And what’s the best way to actually feed corn to your flock?

Don’t worry, I’m going to cover all of that and more in this post.

It all started several years ago when I got my first little flock of 5 baby chicks that I ordered from the local feed store.

I’ll never forget those cute little fluffy puffballs running around my brooder in the garage, peeping and pecking at everything.

As they grew into pullets and eventually mature hens, I spent countless hours researching everything I could to make sure I was giving them the absolute best chicken care.

But no one warned me about just how much chicken poop I’d be dealing with on a daily basis!

Let’s just say I quickly learned to always wear gloves and old clothes when cleaning the coop, and to invest in a heavy duty pooper scooper.

The amount of poop those 5 chickens could produce was mind boggling!

What Kinds of Corn Can Chickens Eat?

The most common question I get on this topic is whether chickens can eat sweet corn – you know, the kind humans eat right off the cob.

Can Chickens Eat Corn

The answer is a resounding yes! Sweet corn is perfectly safe for chickens to eat, both the kernels and the cob itself.

My chickens absolutely love it when I throw a few ears of leftover sweet corn from our summer BBQs into their run. They will peck those cobs clean in no time!

Other types of corn chickens can eat include:

  • Field corn or cow corn – This is the type of corn commonly grown for animal feed and ethanol fuel. When dried, it is a primary ingredient in most commercial chicken feeds.
  • Popcorn – Popcorn kernels are harder than other corn varieties, but totally edible and safe for chickens. I like to pop some plain popcorn for them as a crunchy, fun treat.
  • Ornamental corn – While technically edible, ornamental corn varieties are usually not recommended for chickens as they are often treated with chemical sprays and dyes. Best to avoid.
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I personally steer clear of feeding my flock any corn that looks moldy or rotten. In general, as long as it looks and smells fresh, most varieties of corn should be fine for your chickens to eat.

Health Benefits of Feeding Corn to Chickens

Here are some of the key vitamins, minerals and other nutrients chickens can get from eating corn:

Can Chickens Eat Corn

  • Carbohydrates – The main component of corn is carbohydrates, which provide quick energy. This makes it a great treat for molting, growing, or hard-laying hens.
  • Protein – Corn kernels contain around 8-11% protein on average. While not a complete protein source, this can contribute to their overall needs.
  • Vitamin A – Corn has a carotenoid called zeaxanthin that chickens can convert to Vitamin A for eye and immune health.
  • B Vitamins – Corn has decent levels of B vitamins like thiamin, niacin, folate and pantothenic acid.
  • Vitamin E – A little bit goes a long way. Vitamin E helps protect cells from damage.
  • Vitamin K – Necessary for blood clotting. A corn snack can provide some extra Vitamin K.
  • Magnesium – An important mineral for bones, nerves and enzyme function. One ear of corn contains around 127mg of magnesium.
  • Phosphorus – Corn does contain high levels of phosphorus. Too much can be detrimental but in moderation it provides nutrients.
  • Antioxidants – Corn contains antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin that support eye and skin health.

While corn should never make up the bulk of a chicken’s diet, as an occasional snack it can provide a boost of carbohydrate energy, B vitamins, vitamin E, and antioxidants.

How Much Corn Should Chickens Eat?

When feeding corn to chickens, moderation is key. Too much corn can lead to obesity and other health issues in chickens.

Can Chickens Eat Corn

Here are some guidelines on how much to feed:

  • No more than a handful of kernels 2-3 times per week.
  • Start with 1/4 cup of cracked corn mixed into feed per hen and adjust based on consumption.
  • One ear of sweet corn per 2-3 chickens is plenty for a treat.
  • Popped popcorn should be limited to 1-2 tablespoons per hen, 2-3x per week max.

It’s easy to go overboard when chickens love corn so much. Signs you may be feeding too much include loose droppings, diarrhea, lack of appetite for normal feed, and obesity.

One of the biggest risks of overfeeding corn is throwing off the calcium-phosphorus ratio in chickens. Corn is very high in phosphorus but low in calcium.

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An imbalance can lead to bone health issues over time. Always provide free-choice calcium supplements like oyster shell.

I like to use corn as an occasional “jackpot” treat my girls go crazy for rather than a daily staple. This keeps them interested and limits any potential downsides.

The Best Ways to Feed Corn to Chickens

Here are some tips and tricks for feeding corn to your flock:

  • Hang whole ears of sweet corn from the ceiling of the coop or run for fun pecking and playing.
  • Scatter a handful of dry cracked corn kernels on the ground as a treat – start with 1/4 cup per hen.
  • Mix some cracked corn into their regular feed 2-3 times a week for variety.
  • Save leftover corn on the cob from your dinner and give chickens the leftover cobs.
  • Pop plain popcorn with no butter or salt and give chickens a crunchy handful as a snack.
  • Place corn kernels into a treat dispensing toy to make chickens work for their treats and slow down greedy eaters.

I like to switch up how I feed corn to keep my flock interested.

Sometimes they get plain dried kernels scattered in their run, other times whole cobs hanging up to peck at. Shaking a treat dispensing toy filled with corn is also a great boredom buster!

Well there you have it, everything you need to know about feeding corn to backyard chickens.

When fed properly in moderation, corn can be a healthy supplemental snack that provides energy, nutrients, and entertainment for your flock.

Corn is a chicken favorite for good reason – just be careful not to overdo it! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Yellow Corn: The Golden Snack

Yellow corn, the golden godsend for chickens. It’s not just a snack; it’s a poultry masterpiece. Here’s why your feathered friends can’t resist the allure of this golden goodness:

  • Rich in Carotenoids: Ever wondered why Fluffy’s feathers are so vibrant? Yellow corn is loaded with carotenoids, the secret sauce for a feathery fashion statement.
  • Energy Galore: Chickens may not run marathons, but they’ve got their own version of sprints. Yellow corn provides the calories they need to flap those wings and rule the roost.
  • Feathered Friends’ Favorite: It’s like chicken candy. Trust me, toss a handful of yellow corn, and they’ll follow you like groupies at a rock concert.

Think of yellow corn as the VIP pass to the chicken party—it’s non-negotiable for a flock living its best life.

Remember the time I introduced yellow corn to my flock? Feathers were ruffled, literally! The vibrant transformation was like upgrading from a black-and-white TV to 4K—spectacular and full of clucky flair.

So, next time you’re wondering what to treat your chickens to, think yellow corn. It’s the poultry equivalent of hitting the jackpot!

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Sweet Corn: A Sweet Deal?

Now, let’s talk about sweet corn—a summertime favorite for humans and, as it turns out, our feathered companions. Can chickens indulge in the sweetness too? You betcha!

  • Natural Sugars: Sweet corn brings a touch of sweetness without sending your cluckers into a sugar coma. It’s like the perfect dessert without the guilt.
  • Vitamins A and B: Forget the supplements; sweet corn is a nutrient-packed delight. Vitamins A and B are on the menu, supporting their overall health and well-being.
  • Moderation is Key: While a nibble won’t hurt, moderation is the golden rule. Think of sweet corn as the occasional treat, the poultry equivalent of a cheat day.

Imagine a summer afternoon, barbecue in full swing, and a few curious chickens eyeing your every move. That’s when the sweet corn magic happens. Picture this: feathers dusted with a hint of sweetness, and happy clucks echoing through the backyard.

So, while you’re savoring your corn on the cob, consider sharing a bit with your feathered pals. It’s a win-win—a treat for them and entertainment for you!

Popcorn: Poppin’ Good or Not?

Popcorn isn’t just for movie nights; your chickens might want to join the popcorn party too! Let’s dive into the crunchy world of popped corn and why it might just be the feathered favorite:

  • Whole Grain Goodness: Packed with fiber and essential nutrients, popcorn is a crunchy delight for your flock. It’s like the whole-grain power snack that keeps them pecking and clucking with gusto.
  • Entertainment Value: Watching chickens go after popped corn is a show in itself. It’s like a feathery version of a popcorn frenzy—a clucking spectacle that adds a touch of humor to your day.
  • Hold the Butter: Keep it plain and air-popped; too much butter and salt isn’t the healthiest option for your feathered friends. It’s the equivalent of giving them a fitness challenge—crunchy and without the extra fluff.

Remember the first time I introduced popcorn to my flock?

It was like a tiny explosion of joy.

Feathers flew, clucks reached a crescendo, and I couldn’t help but chuckle at their enthusiasm. It’s like handing out confetti at a celebration—it turns an ordinary day into a party!

So, next movie night, share a bowl of plain, air-popped popcorn with your feathery companions. It’s a bonding experience like no other!

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