Some chicken keepers say it’s okay to raise chickens on corn only. Some say never let your chickens directly peck corn on the cob. While some suggest; chill, chickens enjoy corn whichever way you give it to them!
So, what’s really the truth? Is corn healthy for chickens? Do they even like it? And if they do, can you let your chickens eat corn directly off the cob?
In this post, we’ve compiled authentic answers to all of these questions and everything else related to chickens, corn, and corn cobs. So, read ahead and get ready to embrace the truth!
Can chickens eat corn?
Yes! Chickens can eat both cooked and uncooked corn but in a moderate quantity.
Ideally, you should give no more than a handful or 20 grams of corn to a chicken in a day. Also, poultry enthusiasts recommend giving corn to chickens as a treat, once or twice a week. That’s because of corn’s nutritional value. Too much of it can lead to health issues instead of adding to your chicken’s diet.
Corn’s Nutritional Value
Generally, corn is rich in carbohydrates and low in proteins. It contains high amounts of fiber, vitamin B-6, and several important minerals.
Here’s a breakdown of nutrition in 90 grams of cooked corn:
Plus, corn is a rich source of iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, vitamin C, and vitamin B-6.
Given this, it’s evident that corn is a good source of instant energy for your chickens but it cannot substitute for their daily diet. It does not offer good amounts of proteins and fats, which are essential for growth and laying eggs.
Also, note that you can give corn to your chickens in a variety of forms (such as popcorn, cracked corn, deer corn, tinned sweet corn, etc.) Each of these offers varying quantities of carbs, protein, fiber, and other nutrients. But the general division is usually the same, meaning all corn types offer more carbs and calories than fats and proteins.
Can chickens eat corn on the cob?
So far, we’ve learned that chickens can eat all types of corn and it’s best to give them limited quantities of this energy-packed vegetable. But is there a specific way of giving corn to your chickens? Can they eat corn directly on the cob?
The answer is: yes, they can!
You can give raw corn to your chickens and they will peck the kernels directly off the cob. In this process, they may peck some of the cob’s surface too and that’s okay.
The cob mainly comprises cellulose, which is an indigestible fiber. So, although your chickens will not get any nutritional benefit from pecking on the cob, it doesn’t harm either. It makes the job easier for you as you do not have to separate the kernels and then give them to your birds.
There are some fun ways to feed corn on the cob to your flock too. And we’ll share that in a bit.
But for now, we need you to understand that it’s not a good idea to feed ‘cobs’ to your chickens. As mentioned earlier, they do not offer any significant nutrition and if the chickens peck and swallow big chunks of the cob, it could be a choking hazard.
On the upside, the occasional pecking of corn directly off the cob can help strengthen the beaks of your chicken. They enjoy the process too!
When should I give corn to my chickens?
Some poultry enthusiasts say it’s best to give corn to chickens during winter. That’s because corn is generally known as ‘hot’ food. This means that it may cause a rise in body temperature as the body digests it.
Why so? Well, that’s because corn comprises higher-than-usual quantities of carbs and fiber. So, your chicken’s stomach will need to do some extra work to digest it.
Summing up, you can give corn to your chicken all around the year. And it’s a good idea to give more quantities during winters as compared to summers.
How to feed corn to chickens?
Here comes the fun part! You can give corn to your chickens in a hundred different ways and they are all fine by chickens.
Chickens aren’t picky and they’d peck on almost anything that’s edible.
However, we highly recommend putting some extra thought into how you give corn to your chickens. Because it’s a treat and it should look like it!
Some fun ways to give corn on a cob to your chickens are as follows:
1. Hang the cobs
Drill a hole in the cob and pass a twine through the hole. Make sure the length of the twine is long enough to tie to two ends and hang the cob a few inches above the ground.
If you have a flock of chickens, make sure you hang multiple corn cobs at appropriate distances. 3-5 chickens can easily peck on one corn. Here’s a visualization of what it would look like:
Alternatively, you can hang the corn cobs horizontally on a corn holder like this:
2. Scatter the Corn Cobs
Another way to feed corn directly off the cob to your chickens is to scatter the corn cobs across their feeding area. Whether it’s within their coop or in an open space, place corn cobs ten steps apart.
The reason you need to keep that much distance between the corn cobs is that it ensures each chicken gets an equal share and consumes corn in moderation. If you place them too close, it may cause a chaotic situation and some chickens may not get any corn at all.
Here’s a clip to help you visualize this:
3. Hold the cob in your hands!
Last but not least, try holding the corn cob in your hands and feeding corn kernels to your chickens all by yourself! It’s a rewarding experience overall and can result in great bonding between you and your chickens. This is particularly true if you own backyard chickens because they have a friendly nature and appreciate people’s attention.
Here’s what it would look like:
3 Major Feeding Mistakes to Avoid
Now, let’s check out some mistakes that you must avoid when adding corn to your chicken’s diet:
1. Giving Corn Husks
Similar to corn cobs, corn husks are limited in nutrients. They mainly contain large quantities of fiber and small quantities of calories. So, although they can serve as great snacks for your chickens, they are not a substitute for an actual meal.
They are also not a substitute for the corn itself. In fact, the amounts of fiber in corn husks can be dangerous for your chickens if given in bulk.
Hence, avoid giving corn husks to your chickens with corn cobs. Even if you do, make sure the husks are cut into small pieces.
2. Giving Cobs in One Piece
If you choose to give corn cobs to your chickens (as feed), do not give them in one piece. When your birds peck on it, the cob will break and sometimes chickens can swallow big chunks of it. This can lead to choking or fatal issues in their digestive system.
Instead, consider chopping the cob into smaller pieces. If possible, ground the cobs like the regular chicken feed, mix it up with scratch grains, and then serve it to your pets. This, too, can serve as an excellent snack to counter your flock’s boredom.
3. Giving too much corn
We’ve mentioned this earlier but we’ll highlight it again: your chickens will love pecking on the cob. They’ll love the corn kernels!
But does that mean you give more than the recommended quantity? A big no!
That’s where several chicken farmers mess up. They give large quantities of corn grains to their flocks, thinking their chickens are different and absolutely loving the corn.
Do not give more than the recommended intake, particularly to egg-laying hens. And never consider replacing it with their essential meals. The chickens may stop laying eggs altogether!
How to store corn cobs for chicken?
By the rule of thumb, you should store chicken corn in a cool dry place. In wet conditions, corn cobs can develop mold and this makes them inedible for the chicken.
If you have to store corn cobs for a long time, it’s best to freeze whole corn. You can do this safely by boiling a pot of water, immersing raw corn in the water for three minutes, cooling the corn in an ice bath, and drying it completely. Next, place the dried corn in freezer bags and freeze until you plan to give it to your chickens.
Note that you must never add salt to the boiling water or the corn cob. It can prove to be deadly for your chickens.
Other ways to store corn cobs for chickens is to can or ferment them. Although both of these are lengthy and demanding processes, they work best for storing corn for extensive lengths of time, such as 6-8 months.