Chickens have a reputation for being very enthusiastic, borderline adventurous eaters. Once they find a food they like, they usually leave little behind and in the case of plants, there are some that they will eat right down to the surface of the ground- buds, stem, and all.
They are certainly efficient, but can all parts of a plant be nutritious for a chicken? How about something like a corn husk?
Most of the time corn husks are discarded in favor of those juicy kernels within, but they are technically edible. Are corn husks safe for chickens to eat?
Yes, corn husks are safe for chickens but they have very little to offer in terms of nutrition.
Though they are an okay snack that might entertain chickens for a little while, chickens that eat corn husks will have less room for other, more nutritious foods.
If you’re thinking of using every bit of whole corn on the cob, or just want to give your chickens something different to help break them out of menu fatigue, corn husks might just work.
That’s about all they will do, but maybe that’s enough. I’ll tell you all about feeding them to your flock down below.
What Benefits Do Corn Husks Have for Chickens?
Corn husks are not very nutritious, not at all, but they can provide chickens with a few vitamins and minerals along with some calories. Corn husks do contain a little bit of protein and fiber, so they aren’t a total loss.
Corn husks, and other plant matter of this type, are also good for helping to keep a chicken’s beak clean by basically scrubbing it a little bit every time a chicken takes a bite.
But that’s about all they’re going to do for chickens. It might keep them entertained as they peck and nibble on it, and give them a little boost of energy… but not much more than that.
Are Corn Husks Safe for Chickens Raw?
Yes, raw corn husks are safe for chickens. However, unless you have large or very enthusiastic birds, they probably aren’t going to struggle with them for very long.
Cutting up raw corn husks into smaller, bite-sized pieces that chickens can swallow will increase the chances that they will actually eat them.
But the advantage of serving raw corn husks to your chickens is that they will contain the maximum amount of vitamins and minerals. Admittedly this is not much, but every little bit helps.
Can You Cook Corn Husks to Give Them to Chickens?
Yes, you can feed your chickens cooked corn husks.
Cooking a corn husk makes it far softer and easier for chickens to eat, but the trade-off is that the already minimal amount of vitamins and minerals present in the husk will be seriously degraded, especially if you cook them as long as is usually required to soften them.
However, if you want to make sure that your chickens eat the husks, cooking is probably the way to go.
Are Corn Husks Safe for Baby Chicks?
Corn husks are safe for chicks to eat once they have grown up a little bit, anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks old depending on the breed and how fast they grow.
Corn husks should be chopped up into tiny tidbits to make them easy for baby chicks to eat, and help prevent choking. Also, keep in mind that chicks will not benefit very much at all from corn husks.
How Frequently Can Corn Husks Be Fed to Chickens?
Once a week, maybe, in limited amounts. Corn husks are safe for chickens, but that doesn’t mean they can eat them all the time or whenever they want.
Even though the corn husks aren’t specifically harmful, chickens that eat too many of them are basically filling up on empty food that offers very little in the way of nutrition.
Set another way, a chicken that is eating corn husks isn’t going to eat nice fresh produce or highly nutritious feed.
So in a way, even though they are wholesome corn husks are basically junk food and should be fed accordingly. Giving your flock a small number of corn husks to nibble on once a week at most is as much as you should do.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Corn Husks to Your Flock?
If you’re serving raw corn husks to your chickens, chop them up into smaller pieces first. Only large and strong chickens will easily be able to tear off small pieces from whole husks.
If you’re cooking the husks you can boil them until they soften, a process that usually only takes a few minutes. Drain them, let them cool, and then chop them up into small pieces as before.
If you are cooking the corn husks it might be worthwhile to mix them in with other foods that your chickens are eating to make them a little bit more interesting or just to bulk up the mixture, whatever it is.
Be Careful of Pesticides on Store-Bought Corn
One more thing you’ll need to be aware of with corn husks specifically pertains to husks taken off of grocery-purchased whole ears of corn.
Pretty much all of our modern produce is heavily treated with pesticides and other chemicals, but I am sad to report that corn is one of the most continually bombarded.
These pesticides do keep insects off of the corn until it makes it to market, that’s true, but they also start absorbing into all parts of the corn including the husk.
Peeling off the outer layer and washing is not enough to remove, and if your chickens eat enough of these husks or any other foods with these pesticides on them, over time their health could start to suffer.
For this reason, it’s generally a good idea to grow the corn yourself if you can’t get it from a trusted, organic supplier. At the very least, try to purchase organic corn on the cob at the grocery if that’s your only option.
Tim is a farm boy with vast experience on homesteads, and with survival and prepping. He lives a self-reliant lifestyle along with his aging mother in a quiet and very conservative little town in Ohio. He teaches folks about security, prepping and self-sufficiency not just through his witty writing, but also in person.