Corn is probably the single most important grain in the world. At least it is if you look around at the foods and other products we buy and use every day.
Corn or corn by-products are in it nearly everything, certainly in most foods in one form or another and it is even playing an increasingly important role in the production of fuel and plastics.
Of course, we know that many of our animals also eat corn, but can our chickens? Is corn safe for chickens?
Yes, corn is safe for chickens so long as it is fed to them sparingly. Corn hass protein and important vitamins and minerals that chickens need, and is a great source of energy. However, it is high in sugar and calories which can be problematic if fed in excess.
This shouldn’t be a surprise to most of us because chickens are naturally able to eat many kinds of grains with no ill effects.
However, just because corn is safe and even nutritious doesn’t mean they should be eating it all the time.
Letting your chickens get too much corn could make them fat, or result in worse health problems. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about giving corn to your chickens below.
What Benefits Does Corn Have for Chickens?
Corn has several important benefits for chickens, aside from just being a ready source of energy and a little protein.
The vitamins and minerals present in corn can boost immune system function, enhance a variety of cellular and metabolic processes, enhance organ health, stimulate feathering in response to injury or just during the usual yearly molt and much more.
Corn also contains minerals in particular that are vital for skeletal and connective tissue growth, and this can be especially critical if a bird is injured or if they are just entering a growth spurt. In any case, corn is wholesome and healthy for chickens.
Corn Nutritional Info
Corn is surprisingly nutritious with a good assortment of macro and micronutrients, and looking at the micronutrients we see it has many things that chickens need.
Concerning the vitamins, we find a little bit of vitamin A and several B complex vitamins, including thymine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B6, and even folate.
The mineral content is also varied and fairly impressive, with good amounts of magnesium and phosphorus, and still respectable amounts of manganese, potassium, zinc, and iron.
Chickens need all of these resources to stay healthy, so you’ll be glad to know that corn can provide it for them!
Is Corn Safe for Chickens Raw?
Yes, it is. Fresh corn is ideal for chickens since it offers the perfect combination of easy-to-eat and the best possible nutrition.
Cooking it will reduce its minerals and vitamin levels, and for some like vitamin A and iron, it only has a little to begin with. Fresh, raw corn is best for chickens.
Can You Cook Corn to Give it To Chickens?
Yes, you can. Cooked corn is still safe for chickens, and can give them some of the nutrition they need, just like raw corn does.
However, it’s best to avoid cooking if possible as this will reduce some of the vitamin and mineral content, particularly of those nutrients that are heat-sensitive.
But for some types of corn, like field corn for instance, cooking is going to make it much softer and easier to eat for chickens, so you should consider it if your birds seem picky about it.
Is Canned Corn Safe for Chickens?
Not really. Canned corn, and specialty types like creamed corn in particular, are overloaded with salt, sugar and other ingredients that are bad for chickens.
For this reason, most should be avoided at all costs, as it can make the chickens very sick.
Is Dried Corn Safe for Chickens?
Possibly. Dried corn is extremely hard and difficult for chickens to digest. Since chickens don’t chew their food with their beaks, this increases the chances that they could choke on it.
Other, bigger issues like crop impaction cannot be ruled out, either.
Dried corn can be made safer for their consumption, however, by grinding it into small pieces or soaking it to make it a little softer.
Corn is an Especially Good Feed for Cold Weather
Corn has special uses for feeding your chickens in cold weather. Any food that can help keep animals warm in cold weather is often referred to as a “warming feed” since digestion helps to generate body heat and provide more energy for future digestion.
Corn is especially good for this as it contains a lot of carbs and protein, both of which are needed to help chickens stay warm in cold weather.
Giving your flock a little extra corn to snack on when the weather is bitter might be all you need to do to keep your chickens toasty and happy.
Is Corn Still Safe for Chicks?
Yes, corn is safe for chicks. But like many foods that adult chickens enjoy you are advised to let them grow up a little bit before you give it to them the first time.
Around 4 weeks old is plenty, and this will allow the sensitive digestive systems of chicks time to grow and prepare for new foods besides their usual feed.
However, corn is a bit tougher to digest than other grains, and contains a fair bit of moisture, two elements that can cause trouble for chicks.
If you notice any issues like loose stools or other problems, discontinue and then keep an eye on them to make sure they get better.
How Frequently Can Corn be Fed to Chickens?
Corn is a great supplemental menu item for chickens, but it should not be a major component of their diet.
Because of this, small servings of corn twice or, perhaps, three times a week are more than adequate. Too much corn can lead to weight gain and poor nutrition if it is not balanced properly with other foods.
Under no circumstances should you fail to portion out the corn for your chickens. If you leave a bucket load of corn out where they can get it they will always eat way too much!
Measure out careful portions before you put them in their feeder or scatter it for them.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Corn to Your Flock?
As mentioned above, raw and cooked are both acceptable. You can scatter it on the ground for them to pick out and chase after, or toss it in their feeder as a special treat.
Placing a few separate bowls or trays is also an option. If cooking, drain off as much moisture as you can and be sure it is cool before serving it to your chickens.
Only Feed Corn to Chickens if it is Pesticide Free
If you aren’t growing corn yourself or buying it from a trusted source, be wary of pesticides and other chemicals on commercial, store-bought stuff.
Corn is one of the most heavily sprayed crops, and small farms may still use unsafe pesticides that could be harmful to your flock.
Husking and washing aren’t enough to remove all residues, and these can build up in the bodies of chickens slowly with repeated feedings.
With enough time, there might be serious health consequences. Avoid this by only buying organic or pesticide-free corn from recognized vendors.
Corn Is Safe, But Only Safe By Itself: No People Food!
As I alluded to above, you should never give corn to your flock if it has been prepared with any ingredients they shouldn’t have, or used as an ingredient in a dish they can’t eat.
This means that you should not give them chips, corn syrup or any other human food made with sweeteners, salt, butter, oils or anything else that is bad for chickens.
These things can cause serious health problems in chickens and should be avoided at all costs. Your birds will love fresh, plain corn just fine, trust me.
Don’t Leave Corn Lying Around the Run or Coop
Chickens aren’t the only animals that like corn. Turns out lots of other creatures do, too. Pests and known predators of chickens like raccoons, possums, mice, and rats will always be on the lookout for an easy meal.
Leaving corn lying around can draw these animals to your run or coop and subsequently threaten the safety of your flock. To stop this, always make sure that the bulk of leftover corn is picked up and discarded.
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.
Find out more about Tim and the rest of the crew here.