When it comes to natural food, corn is probably one of the most accessible and affordable options there is. You can find it in grocery stores, local produce stands, and probably even your neighbor’s farm. As such, many poultry farmers consider adding corn to their flock’s diet. However, many still ask: Can chickens eat corn?
This article will cover
- Can chickens eat corn?
- What type of corn can chickens eat?
- Will chickens have a problem digesting corn?
- Does corn make chickens overheat?
- Nutritional value of corn
- How much corn should you feed chickens?
- Preparing corn for chicken feeding
Can chickens eat corn?
Let’s cut to the chase. Can chickens eat corn? Yes, it is completely safe to feed your chickens corn. Is it bad for your flock? Well, if given in moderation, then the answer is no.
As a natural food, especially when grown organically, corn is a healthy option for feeding. While it has good nutritional content, it is not as packed with many nutrients and minerals in comparison to other vegetables.
Chickens need more than just carbohydrates to have optimum health. They need a balanced diet that has a good mix of all the nutrients crucial for body processes, growth, and development.
This being said, chickens can eat corn but poultry enthusiasts highly recommend giving it a treat rather than a primary diet.
What type of corn can chickens eat?
Now that we have answered the question: can chickens eat corn, your next question would probably be on the types of corn chickens can eat.
There are different varieties of corn with each having its nutritional value. Moreover, corn can be prepared and consumed in various ways. Let’s have a rundown on the types of corn chickens can eat.
Maize is another term for corn in other regions of the world. If you own a farm and grow your maize, you can give freshly harvested maize to your chickens. They will most likely enjoy pecking at it.
When you have a few minutes to spare, you can also remove kernels from the cob before feeding it to your flock.
Corn on the cob
Can chickens eat corn on the cob? Either cooked or raw, you can throw a corn cob to your chickens as a snack. There is no problem with it as chickens will gladly peck at the cob to get the kernels.
As a matter of fact, many chicken raisers enjoy watching their flock peck on whole corn.
Want to save your flock the hassle of pecking at kernels? Give them cracked corn instead!
Cracked corn is corn left to dry and eventually cracked into smaller pieces to make it easier for birds to consume. This is readily available in the market, though, you can also make your own at home.
Some chicken raisers prepare frozen corn treats for their flocks for the summer months. To make these cooling treats, just put corn kernels in a muffin or ice cube tray, add water, then let it freeze. Pop the frozen treat out and give it to your chickens.
Frozen corn treats are perfect for sunny days as they are good refreshments to combat the heat. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to make frozen corn pops for your chickens:
Don’t have access to fresh corn? No worries! Pre-packed corn in a tin can is also available in the market. Canned corn is as safe for chickens to eat as it is for humans.
However, salt and water are added to preserve canned corn. While water is harmless, the salt content might cause problems to your chickens especially when given in large amounts.
Corn in meal leftovers
Feeding chickens leftovers and table scraps is one way to cut food waste. Corn in your meals is okay for feeding to chickens.
However, keep it to a minimum as spices and other ingredients such as salt and condiments may be bad for your chickens’ health when given too much.
Corn husks, or the green coating of corn cobs, are often discarded and put to waste. Here’s an interesting fact! This part of the corn is safe for chicken consumption, too.
The downside, though, is that it has little to no nutritional content so your flock will not get nutrients from it.
Chickens are natural foragers, but they will probably ignore corn husks as they are not as enticing as kernels.
Will chickens have a problem digesting corn?
Those who eat corn probably have noticed some parts of the corn, like the kernel’s outer shell called the pericarp, are not digested properly. This is because the human body does not have the enzymes to break down the cellulose that makes up this shell.
If that’s the case, will your chickens have trouble digesting corn too? The answer is no.
Chickens have a unique digestive system. Even though they don’t have teeth to crush their food into tiny pieces, many parts of their digestive tract are built to do food breakdown.
In fact, they have the gizzard — an organ that basically serves as the machine that further breaks down particles into tiny pieces.
Of course, it is possible because of different gut bacteria naturally present in the gut and grit. You should make sure your chickens have access to grit to help them digest whatever food they take in.
Find the chicken digestive system interesting? Watch this video for a comprehensive yet simple explanation of how your fowl digests food:
Does corn make chickens overheat?
The myth that corn makes chickens overheat stems from the thinking that corn is a “hot food.” It is considered such because it keeps chickens warm, but not to the point of making them overheat.
Corn does not make chickens feel hot, per se. In fact, it does not even have the ability to raise body temperature.
Rather, corn is able to make chickens warm, especially during cold months, because it has high-calorie content which, in turn, pumps their metabolism.
The more calories a certain food has, the more energy it will give your chickens. This energy can be used in daily activities or even in keeping their bodies warm in cold conditions.
Nutritional value of corn
There are different varieties of corn around the world and they differ in nutritional content. However, the difference is usually in the amount rather than the kinds of nutrients.
In general, corn is high in calories and rich in fiber which is good for the digestive system. It is also packed with carbohydrates making it a good source of energy for your chickens’ activities throughout the day.
Though in minimal amounts, corn also contains vitamins B, E, K, and magnesium.
According to a medically reviewed article, an ear of sweet corn has the following nutrients:
|Vitamin C||3.6 g|
How much corn should you feed chickens?
Too much of anything can be bad. This statement rings true even when it comes to food.
Corn is best given as treats or snacks to poultry. Veterinarians and poultry enthusiasts don’t recommend making it an essential part of your chicken’s diet or a substitute for chicken feed. This is because it does not contain all the nutrients needed for growth and development.
With this, it is best for chicken owners to give small amounts of corn as treats occasionally. A tablespoon of corn once a week is a good amount.
You can alternate different fruits and vegetables as snacks and treats for your chickens. Doing this will make sure that your chickens get different kinds of vitamins and minerals. On top of that, it also gives them variety in terms of flavor and texture.
The risk that comes with too much or too frequent feeding of corn is the build-up of fat which may lead to overweight chickens. In effect, this can alter your chicken’s lifestyle and living conditions.
Preparing corn for chicken feeding
As mentioned earlier, you can buy corn in different forms such as whole corn on a cob or canned corn. In the same way, you can prepare corn for chicken feeding in different ways.
Probably the most convenient way of feeding corn to your flock is by giving it in one piece. Can chickens eat corn in a cob? Can you feed a chicken whole corn? The answer to both questions is yes.
You can take the easiest route and throw your raw or cooked corn on a cob to your chickens for them to flock over.
If you want to keep them entertained, you can tie it to a piece of string and let it hang. Chickens will go near that and peck at the hanging corn. This serves as a good exercise and activity to pass time for your chickens.
Another option is to feed your chickens cracked corn. First, dry your corn kernels. Afterwhich, break it down into smaller pieces, commonly with the use of a grinding machine. Cracked corn is common among birds as it is easy to peck at.
For months in hot weather, you can make frozen treats by freezing kernels and water. Serve it to your chickens frozen so they get both a snack and refreshments.
Because corn is relatively cheap and easy to get, many chicken raisers ask: Can chickens eat corn? Yes, chickens can eat corn regardless if it is fresh, canned, processed, or frozen. In a nutshell, corn is good natural food for chickens, but only to be given as treats and in moderation.