Can Chickens Eat Whole Corn? (Yes, Plus Mistakes To Avoid)

Can Chickens Eat Whole Corn

As backyard chicken owners, we’re always on the lookout for healthy, nutritious snacks for our feathered friends.

One question that often crops up is, “Can chickens eat whole corn?”

The short answer is yes, chickens can eat whole corn.

While the size and digestibility of whole corn may be a concern for some, chickens have a unique organ called a “gizzard” that enables them to digest hard foods such as whole corn.

It’s important, however, to ensure that chickens have access to sufficient grit for proper digestion and that corn is part of a balanced diet, not the sole food source. Follow the 90/10 rule – 90% chicken feed and 10% healthy snacks such as whole corn.

Now, let’s take a closer look at why whole corn can be a great snack for chickens, and some common mistakes to avoid.

Understanding Whole Corn

Whole corn refers to corn kernels that have not been processed or altered in any way. This includes corn taken straight from the cob, retaining its outer shell or hull. Many animals, including chickens, relish eating corn due to its rich nutritional profile. However, the size and digestibility of whole corn are often a concern for some chicken owners.

Whole Corn Vs Cracked Corn

Whole Corn Vs Cracked Corn

When it comes to feeding corn to chickens, a common dilemma is whether to opt for whole corn or cracked corn.

Cracked corn is essentially whole corn that has been dried and crushed into smaller pieces. This form is often preferred due to its smaller size and ease of digestion. However, the process of cracking corn reduces some of its nutritional value.

On the other hand, whole corn, whether fresh or dried, retains a significant amount of nutritional value. While it does require chickens to have access to grit to properly digest, the nutrient-rich nature of whole corn makes it a valuable addition to their diet.

Nutritional Benefits of Whole Corn for Chickens

Corn is a common ingredient in commercial chicken feed due to its rich nutrient profile. It’s packed with carbohydrates, providing a great energy source for chickens. In addition to this, it contains a decent amount of protein and fiber.

Corn also contains vitamins and minerals like magnesium, vitamins B, E, and K, contributing to the overall health and well-being of chickens. However, it’s important to note that corn should not be the only food source for your chickens. It should be a part of a balanced diet that includes a variety of other nutritious foods.

Can Chickens Digest Whole Corn?

Chickens may not have teeth, but they have a unique organ called a “gizzard” that enables them to digest hard foods like whole corn. The gizzard is a muscular organ that grinds up food using grit, effectively ‘chewing’ it. As long as your chickens have access to sufficient grit, they should be able to digest whole corn without any issues.

Can Chickens Eat Corn on the Cob?

Yes, chickens can eat corn on the cob. They can consume it both cooked or raw. Hanging a cob on a string can provide a fun, stimulating eating experience for your chickens. They’ll peck at the cob, stripping it down to nothing in no time.

Is Corn a Warming Food?

There’s a common belief that feeding corn to chickens during the winter helps to keep them warm. While corn doesn’t physically increase a chicken’s body temperature, it does provide a rich source of carbohydrates. This gives chickens a high-energy food source that can help maintain body temperature during the cold months.

How Much Corn to Feed to Chickens?

While corn is beneficial for chickens, it’s important to feed it to them in moderation. A general guideline is to ensure that corn constitutes no more than 10% of a chicken’s diet. Feeding too much corn can lead to obesity and other health issues in chickens due to its high carbohydrate content.

Corn as a Treat for Chickens

Scattering whole corn around your yard or chicken run can keep your birds entertained and their foraging instincts sharp. It’s an excellent form of enrichment that can help prevent boredom and associated behavioral issues.

Avoiding Pitfalls When Feeding Corn To Chickens

Here are some key points to remember when feeding corn to your chickens:

Avoid Overfeeding

It cannot be stressed enough that corn should not constitute the majority of your chicken’s diet. While corn provides ample carbohydrates and fiber, it is deficient in the protein that birds require to feel satiated. Furthermore, corn can accumulate in the digestive tract, contributing to weight problems.

No Spoiled or Mouldy Corn

Never offer your chickens any food that is underripe, spoiled, or moldy. Several underripe vegetables contain toxins like solanine or cyanide, which are harmful to chickens. Even though corn generally has a long shelf life, it doesn’t guarantee it’s always safe. Like underripe vegetables, spoiled or moldy corn can pose a significant health risk to your chickens. Hence, it’s best to only feed your chickens fresh whole corn.

Clean Up Afterwards

Always clean up the area after treating your chickens. Chickens aren’t the only ones attracted to the aroma of cooked corn. Leaving corn out overnight could attract unwanted visitors, such as raccoons or foxes, who might stumble upon your chicken coop, causing potential danger.

It’s advisable to tidy up the yard a few hours after offering corn to your chickens. This allows the birds adequate time to enjoy their treat. If there’s any corn left when you come to clean up, chances are your chickens aren’t interested in it.

Stick to the 90/10 Rule

Corn is a safe and nutritious treat for chickens, provided you stick to the 90/10 guideline – 90% of a chicken’s diet should consist of poultry feed. The remaining 10% can be used for treats like whole corn, fruits, and vegetables. This rule ensures your chickens receive a well-balanced diet while still being able to enjoy their favorite snacks.

When to Avoid Feeding Corn to Chickens?

When to Avoid Feeding Corn to Chickens

While corn is generally safe for chickens, there are certain instances when you should avoid feeding it to them. During hot summer months, feeding corn should be minimized as the high carbohydrate content can potentially raise their body temperature.

Buying and Storing Whole Corn

Whole corn is readily available at most pet supplies and feed stores. It can also be purchased online. When buying whole corn, ensure you choose a product that is fresh and free from mold or any signs of spoilage. Store it in a cool and dry place to prevent the growth of mold.

Summing Up

In conclusion, feeding whole corn to chickens can be a beneficial part of their diet when done in moderation. It provides essential nutrients, encourages natural foraging behavior, and serves as an enjoyable treat. As with any food, balance is key. Make sure to offer a variety of foods to ensure your chickens receive a well-rounded diet.

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