Today, we will be talking about chickens and popcorn!
Chickens are fun little creatures. They may not know what you are holding at the time, but if they think it is a treat, then they will attack. Their crazy antics make their owners keep looking for new snacks to introduce.
The problem is, treat searching is not always easy. Chickens usually eat anything, but they can’t eat everything. We know how hard that is, but you need not worry. We’re here to help you!
Are you thinking of adding popcorn to the list? Well, you might want to grab a bowl of popcorn as we will be putting this treat under the microscope.
Can Chickens Eat Popcorn?
One of the main rules in looking for a new chicken treat is asking if they can naturally find it in nature. Popcorn is not something they usually find in their natural habitat. It’s understandable to question if popcorns are safe for chickens.
Yes, chickens can eat popcorn. This treat in itself does not have any harmful elements.
Can Chickens Eat Popcorn Kernels?
The answer to this one is not as straightforward as above.
Not all chicken handlers think the same thing when it comes to the kernels. Some would tell you it’s safe, while others would suggest that you stay away. We say it depends!
One of the worries when it comes to kernels is their texture. Some say it’s too hard, and your chickens might not be able to digest it properly. Others see it as a choking hazard.
If you want to feed your chickens the kernels, then it would be best to observe them. Also, you might want to provide more grit to help with breaking it down.
Can Chicks Eat Popcorn?
We already know the adults could eat popcorn. Now, let’s see if the little ones could also eat them.
Generally, the little ones could eat what the adults could. Of course, we need to consider their size. We would need to be a little more careful when giving them treats.
If you want to give the little chicks popcorn, make sure you’re only giving them the plain ones. Also, you should avoid giving them kernels. Their digestive system is not yet fully developed, and they might have trouble digesting it. It could also be a choking hazard.
Don’t forget, only give them a few bites. Remember, the diet of your chicks should mostly be starter feed at least until the 6th week. You can give them more treats once they mature.
Do Chickens Like Popcorn?
We now know that chickens can eat popcorn, but does that mean they will eat it?
Generally, chickens are known to like popcorn. It’s not high on the list, but it is there.
You might want to keep in mind that chickens still have their own preference. One chicken might go crazy for popcorn, while another might hate it. It should not come as a surprise what their reaction to this treat would be.
If you want to see if your chickens like popcorn, then you can give them a few bits and observe what happens. If they devour it within seconds, then you have your answer.
Is Popcorn Healthy for Chickens?
If you look at the components of the popcorn, then you would see that it doesn’t have much of the bad stuff. It barely has any sugar or salt. On the other hand, you would also notice that it doesn’t have all the nutrients that chickens need.
Popcorn is not the healthiest choice on the list, but it is not the worst of all as well.
With that said, popcorn can’t be a staple in the diet of your chickens. However, you can still let your chickens have popcorn. It would make for a great treat! It will not pose a problem if given in moderation.
100g Air-Popped (Unsalted) Nutrition
If you want to see a detailed look at the components of the popcorn, then you can go here.
Now might be the best time to emphasize that we have been discussing plain popcorn. Not even the salted ones. Just plain popcorn with no seasoning whatsoever.
There are many different kinds of popcorn. While they may taste nice, you should avoid flavored popcorn. You can have them. Your chickens shouldn’t.
Flavored popcorn have extra ingredients that are not healthy for your chickens. For one, salted popcorns have more salt. On the other hand, sweetened popcorns have more sugar.
Technically, your chickens can have a few but note that it’s not healthy. We don’t suggest that you do, especially for the chicks. You might be a little more lenient with the adults, but we highly advise against giving them to the little ones.
If you happen to chance upon some chocolate popcorn, then stay away from them! Chocolates are bad for your chickens. It is one of the treats you must never give them.
Why Give Popcorns to Chickens?
As we have already said, popcorn is not the healthiest treat on the list. If a food option doesn’t offer much nutrition, you might think it is an unhealthy choice. That’s reasonable. However, despite everything, I still think popcorn is a treat to consider.
Sometimes, handlers don’t just offer a treat for its nutritional value. If you’re looking for something healthy, your feed probably has everything your chickens need.
One reason some handlers keep on looking for new treats is to keep their chickens entertained. Popcorn is a good treat for that. You can scatter a few around the run or offer it to them in a bowl. The popcorn is a flexible treat.
On the other hand, if you have some new chooks, some popcorn could also let you bond with the little critters.
Popcorn is more of a fun treat than a nutritious one.
Why Keep Chickens Entertained?
In the portion above, we said that popcorn is good for entertaining chickens. As you will see in a bit, entertaining chickens is not merely for fun. A bored or stressed-out chicken poses more trouble than you would expect.
In the first level of stress and boredom, you need to worry about two things. The first would be noise. Second, lesser eggs from your chickens. An unhappy chicken can be vocal about it. Also, they would have a hard time producing eggs.
That might not be that much of a problem for you. Some are alright with noise, and some don’t need that many eggs. It does not end with that, unfortunately.
In the latter levels of stress, you need to watch out for much worse things such as fighting, feather-plucking, death, and cannibalism!
Chickens don’t immediately get bored or stressed out. However, treats are a great way to appease them when you’re starting to see signs. You can keep them busy with a few treats while you investigate what’s stressing them out.
Causes of Stress for Chickens
Since we’re already talking about chickens and stress, let us show you some common causes of chicken stress.
Heat – Heat could be a stressor to chickens. During the hot seasons, make sure they have lots of shade and water.
Room – Recently, we talked about chickens and space. There, we discussed how much space chickens need. We also mentioned that it is possible for chickens to get bored or stressed when there isn’t much space for them. If you want to know more about chickens and space, then you can head on to that page.
Predators – Predators and predator attacks are some of the top things that stress your chickens out. I think we could all imagine why that is.
Different stressors call for different countermeasures, but treats are almost always a good idea to calm them down.
Can chickens eat popcorn?
If we’re only talking about the popped popcorn, then the answer is yes!
There are some things to be considered if we’re talking about kernels. Some handlers avoid the kernels since it could be a choking hazard. Also, because it is hard, your chickens might have some trouble digesting it.
If you decide to give kernels to your chickens, observe their reaction. Providing them some extra grit might also help.
On the other hand, you should avoid giving the chicks the kernels. Their digestive system is not yet as developed. Are you doubtful that adult chickens can digest certain treats without trouble? If so, you should avoid giving it to the chicks.
Popcorn does not have that much sugar and salt. On the other hand, it also only has a small amount of the nutrition that chickens need.
Popcorn is good in moderation. It cannot be part of the staple diet of your chickens, but it could be a good treat!
If you have more questions regarding chicken treats, then you can check out our chicken feeding tips.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch The Foundry.