Can Chickens Eat Whole Corn? And More Corn Questions Answered.

can chickens eat whole corn
Can chickens eat whole corn? – Yes they can!

Can chickens eat whole corn? Yes, chickens can eat whole corn! Whether it’s off the cob, dried corn, raw corn or cracked corn, they are able to eat all types of corn. We consulted expert poultry opinions and the conclusion is that chickens can enjoy 11% of corn in their daily diet. Just make sure you supplement the rest of their diet with other high quality feed as well.

Your chickens will love eating corn. Not only is it an easy food to prepare and give them but it’s also nutritious and easy to source.

We will discuss different types of corn and their benefits for your chickens further down in this article so read on to find out more!

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Can Chickens Eat Whole Corn? Lets Talk About Whole Corn vs Cracked Corn

Should you give your chicken whole corn kernels or cracked corn kernels? Many chicken owners opt for giving cracked corn to their chickens due to it being smaller in sizing and easier to peck at.

Cracked corn kernels have been dried then crushed into smaller pieces. Cracked corn is often preferred due to the pieces being smaller and a lot easier for the chickens to pick up with their beak. Cracked corn kernels are also easier to digest than whole corn kernels.

So cracked corn sounds pretty good right? Not so fast, the downside to cracked corn is that during the processing of it the cracked corn loses some of its nutritional value. Whole corn on the other hand whether fresh or dried has retained more of its nutritional value over cracked corn.

So for convenience go with cracked corn but for a higher nutritional value, use the whole corn. We feed our chickens this high quality organic cracked corn.

Can Chickens Eat Whole Corn Off the Cob?

Yes, chickens will happily eat corn off the cob. They are able to eat it off the cob either cooked or raw. It will be easier for them to peck at cooked though. 

Something you could do with corn on the cob is make it a stimulating eating experience for your chickens by hanging the corn on a piece of string. The chickens will have fun pecking at it and it will be a bit of a challenge for them to eat the corn while slightly swinging.

You could remove the green corn husks on the corn cob or take them off. The chickens are likely to not eat the husks due to their texture and lack of nutrients.

can chickens eat whole corn
Corn off the cob is healthy and nutritious for chickens

Health and Nutritional Benefits of Chickens Eating Corn

Corn is a common ingredient in commercial chicken feed, usually one of the top two ingredients so you will be pleased to know that corn kernels are very nutritious and healthy for your chickens and there are several benefits when incorporating them into your chicken’s diet. 

Corn also contains a decent amount of protein, carbohydrates and fibre to keep your chickens energy up for all that foraging and laying! 

The nutritional profile of one cob of corn is shown below:

  • Calories: 90
  • Protein: 3 grams (g)
  • Fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 19 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Sugars: 5 g
  • Vitamin C: 3.6 milligrams (mg)

Is Corn a Warming Food?

Corn is a high-energy food that can help maintain your chickens body temperature.

If you are concerned about your chickens getting enough calories in winter to maintain their body fat and stay warm, then adding some whole corn (whether raw, cooked or dried) to their diet will help them achieve enough energy and body warmth to see out the winter months. 

Just keep in mind that you must add other sources of protein as well. Corn is largely a carbohydrate and your regular feed likely has corn already listed as the first ingredient. Adding a variety of other kitchen scraps and meal worms will diversify their nutritional resources and keep them in optimal health. 

So yes, feeding corn to your chickens provides the fuel for them to generate high energy and additional body fat to ‘warm up’ during the winter months!

Can Chickens Easily Digest Whole Corn?

Whole corn kernels have an outer shell, known as the “pericarp”. This outer shell tends to survive the digestion process in humans and may even come out in faeces undigested.

Some chicken owners think that this digestion issue applies to chickens too. 

Its true that chickens don’t have teeth to crush the corn kernels, however they have a unique organ known as the “gizzard”. This is basically a stomach mill that grinds up the food with strong muscles and crushes the food to a slurry. The outer kernel shell – the ‘pericap’, gets ground up in this process.  

Due to this digestive process, chickens are capable of eating just about anything including grit, gravel and dirt without suffering from any negative side effects. Grit is actually an important part of a chickens diet to aid in their unique digestive process. We use these fantastic grit products for our girls.

Can Baby Chickens Eat Corn?

Chicks can start eating corn kernels at the age of 3 or 4 months old. Before this age the baby chickens may struggle to digest the corn. The baby chickens are not yet consuming the amount of grit needed to break it down.

can chickens eat corn
Young baby chicks should not eat whole corn

How Much Corn Can Chickens Eat?

Corn is best to be treated like a treat food. This study recommended giving corn as no more than 11% of your chickens diet. Both poultry enthusiasts and veterinarians agree that corn is a supplemental food, as it does not provide the same nutritional quality as a high quality and diversified chicken feed. We use these fantastic feeds for our flock.

In Summary…

Can chickens eat whole corn? Yes, chickens can eat all kinds of corn, including whole corn, cracked corn, raw corn and cooked corn and of course corn on the cob. 

Corn is also relatively cheap and easy to find food, so many chicken owners regularly feed their chickens corn. 

Feel free to feed your chickens corn, it’s a nutritious and accessible food that your chickens will love!

Chicken Care Shopping List

Are you looking for a shopping list of everything you need when caring for your precious flock? We have put together an easy reference of items for your convenience. 

Wondering if chickens can eat onion? Read on here!

References

Nutritional profile of corn – https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/corn-health-benefits

Corn study – https://www.animbiosci.org/journal/view.php?number=18819

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AUTHOR

The team at My Chicken Guide are chicken enthusiasts! We grew up tending to our family chickens and still maintain our passion for chicken care to this day! Our head writer is a qualified Environmental Scientist and our team has over 20 years experience in raising and caring for chickens.