We have seen a lot of people ask if chickens can eat corn? It is no surprise, really. After all, most people believe that corn is high in various nutrients. This makes it a great option for chickens, right? Is corn high in calories or a good natural food source for chickens. But is corn actually good or bad for chickens? Will chickens eat corn at all?
Well, let’s take a look, shall we?
- Can Chickens Eat Corn?
- Can Chickens Eat Whole Corn?
- Is Corn Good or Bad For Chickens?
- Can Chickens Eat Raw Corn?
- Can Chickens Eat Corn on the Cob?
- Should you clean up after your chicken once they have eaten corn?
- Feeding Corn to Chickens – Conclusion
Can Chickens Eat Corn?
Chickens do eat corn! Although, this isn’t really saying all that much. You have to remember that chickens will eat just about anything that they can get their beaks on.
With very few exceptions, if you put something into the chicken coop that is vaguely edible, then the chickens are probably going to try it at least once.
Since the corn is going to be highly palatable for them, they will keep eating it every time you throw it in their direction. Honestly, you will probably never really have an issue with feeding your chickens anything.
The question isn’t so much whether chickens can eat corn. it is more whether they should be eating the corn in the first place.
Can Chickens Eat Whole Corn?
Yes, chickens will be able to eat whole corn. It doesn’t have to be cooked. They will just peck away at whole corn kernels until they break it up into smaller chunks and they can gobble it up.
Is Corn Good or Bad For Chickens?
There is no denying that corn has some decent nutrients in it. Many of these nutrients could actually benefit a chicken. However, corn isn’t healthy enough in order for a chicken to thrive on it.
In fact, if it were us, we would never give a chicken some corn for anything other than a treat. If you do, then it could end up causing issues.
Chickens love a good bit of corn. This is because corn is high in fat. Now, humans will probably never realize just how high in fat corn actually is.
This is because we are all larger than chickens. For us, the only benefit of a bit of corn will be the nutrients inside of it. Chickens, however, are a whole lot different.
This is because chickens have smaller stomachs. If they eat the corn, they will fill their stomach up rather quickly.
They will be so full that they wouldn’t really be able to eat any of the other food in their coop.
Whenever we have fed chickens corn, they tend to make a beeline for the corn and forget about everything else that they have access to. It can be incredibly annoying at times!
If your chickens only live on corn or have most of their nutrients come from corn, then you will notice a change in their health. They may lay fewer eggs, for instance.
When they do lay the eggs, there is a good chance that these eggs will have thinner shells. This means that they may break the second that they leave the chicken, or they may not be the most edible eggs in the world.
We are not saying that chickens shouldn’t be eating corn at all.
In fact, we suggest that they do have a bit of corn on occasion. They absolutely love the stuff. Your issues are only going to happen when you feed them corn multiple times per week.
We suggest that, at the most, you should be feeding them corn once or twice per week. If you can, then you may want to try and mix this corn up with other fruits and vegetables.
This will ensure that your chickens have everything that they need to thrive, while at the same time giving them a bit of a treat so they are a bit happier. As everybody knows, happier chickens lay better eggs.
Alternative Chicken Treats
Here are some healthy treat alternatives for chickens besides commercial treats:
- Fresh fruits – Small pieces of apples, berries, melons, citrus fruits, etc. Provides natural sugars.
- Fresh vegetables – Chopped dark leafy greens, broccoli, squash, peas, sweet potato. Excellent for vitamins and minerals.
- Cooked rice – Small amounts of plain brown or wild rice, cooked. Provides carbohydrates.
- Cooked beans or lentils – These legumes offer plant-based protein.
- Rolled oats – High in fiber to support digestion and gut health.
- Mealworms – A nutritious protein source that chickens forage for naturally.
- Herbs/greens from garden – Extras like parsley or kale provide natural nutrition.
- Sprouted seeds – Soaked and sprouted grains and legumes enhance nutrition.
The key is providing fresh, unprocessed foods in moderation. Avoid sugary commercial treats high in fillers, artificial flavors and colors. Make tasty, nutritious snacks a fun part of their daily routine!
Can Chickens Eat Raw Corn?
Yes, chickens can eat raw corn. It is probably best for you to cook the corn first but, if you want, chickens are probably not going to have any issues tucking into some raw corn.
Although, we suggest that you give them corn that is still ‘fresh’. The dried out corn (such as popcorn and the like) can be a bit tougher for them to deal with. Chickens can eat popcorn and they love it.
If you do feed them raw corn, then you will want to ensure that it has not been flavored in any way. If there is any salt or butter on it, then do not give it to the chicken.
This could be deadly for them. Well, not deadly, but it certainly won’t be good for their health.
Can Chickens Eat Corn on the Cob?
Yes, chickens can have corn on the cob. In fact, this is the way that most owners will feed their chicken corn.
After all, corn on the cob is a pretty portable way to feed your chicken some corn. If you have multiple chickens, then put a couple of corn on the cobs in there and they will eat them.
The cleanup process afterward will be a whole lot easier too!
As mentioned before, you can feed the corn on the cob raw or cooked. You must, however, ensure that your chickens are not eating any corn with salt, spices, or butter on them.
Should you clean up after your chicken once they have eaten corn?
Yes. This is especially true if you are feeding them cooked corn. You have to remember that anything that your chickens do not eat will attract pests.
So, if you have a ton of corn inside of the chicken coop that remains uneaten, then you could be putting your chickens at risk.
You also have to remember that uneaten corn can go moldy. If this happens then, once again, you are going to be putting your chickens at risk.
We suggest cleaning up the chicken coop a few hours after you give them the corn. If it hasn’t been eaten in a few hours, then they probably aren’t going to be eating it.
Benefits and Potential Downsides
Corn is a staple grain for many backyard chicken keepers thanks to its widespread availability and nutritional value. But some new owners wonder – can chickens eat corn? And if so, how much and what form is optimal in their diet?
The good news is that chickens can certainly eat corn safely and gain benefits. However, some potential downsides exist around overfeeding. Let’s explore the pros and cons, proper forms and portions, and overall role of corn for chickens.
Benefits of Feeding Corn to Chickens
When included thoughtfully in moderation, corn offers chickens:
- High energy – Being high in complex carbohydrates and oils, corn provides substantial calories and energy for growth and activity.
- Nutrient density – Corn contains protein, fiber, beneficial fatty acids, and minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and iron.
- Palatability – Chickens find the sweet taste of corn very appealing compared to other grains. This stimulates appetite.
- Convenience – As one of the most abundant and affordable grains in the US, corn is an accessible addition to chicken feed.
- Gizzard function – The hardness of dried corn kernels helps exercise and strengthen chickens’ gizzards as they grind particles.
- Enrichment – Scattering whole kernel corn encourages natural foraging behaviors and exercise as chickens scratch and peck.
Thanks to its broad nutrient composition and popularity in chicken feeds, corn offers a valuable dietary component in balance with other grains. But some precautions are prudent.
Potential Issues with Feeding Corn to Chickens
While corn has benefits, potential concerns include:
- Poor protein ratio – Corn is low in certain essential amino acids like lysine and methionine. This can create an imbalance in all-corn diets.
- Fatty acid ratio – Corn tilts ratio towards omega-6 rather than healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Too much omega-6 causes inflammation.
- Weight gain – The high carbohydrate density of corn makes it more fattening than other grains. Overfeeding may lead to obesity.
- Pesticide exposure – Genetically modified field corn may contain higher chemical residues compared to organic varieties.
- Mycotoxins – Moldy corn harbors dangerous fungal toxins. Always inspect and discard discolored kernels.
- Avidin in raw corn – Uncooked corn contains a protein that depletes biotin, an essential B vitamin. Always cook corn before feeding.
With proper preparation and portion control, the risks of corn can be minimized while harnessing benefits.
Guidelines for Feeding Corn to Chickens
Follow these tips for safely incorporating corn in your chickens’ diet:
- Whole kernels only – Cracked, ground and meal create impacted crops. Offer dried whole kernels for exercise.
- Cook before feeding – Heat disrupts the avidin protein in raw corn that binds biotin and causes deficiency.
- Moderate amounts – Corn should comprise no more than 30% of overall diet.
- Balance with amino acids – Combine corn with legumes, seeds, leafy greens to provide missing amino acids.
- Choose non-GMO organic – Avoid genetically modified field corn with pesticide residues when possible.
- Inspect thoroughly – Screen all corn for mold, odd colors, or fungus before feeding.
- Sprout or ferment – Bioavailability of nutrients improves through sprouting or lactic acid fermentation.
Feeding corn responsibly prevents health issues while allowing chickens to enjoy a favored treat. Combining corn with other grains, seeds, greens and insects maintains a well-rounded diet.
Feeding Corn to Chickens – Conclusion
Chickens absolutely love corn. You just need to ensure that you do not give them too much of it because, for a chicken, it is high in fat and isn’t that nutritionally dense.
Give it to them a couple of times per week and they will love you! The corn can be fed raw or cooked.
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