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Chickens enjoy snacking on many of the same foods as we do, with the vast majority of chicken foods containing dried corn for some easy-to-digest grain.
With this in mind, many people wonder whether popcorn is a safe snack to feed chickens. But, is consuming popcorn beneficial to them, or can it prove problematic for their health?
In this guide, we’ll take an in-depth look at whether popcorn is a safe and healthy treat for chickens to enjoy as part of their regular diet. What’s more, we’ll also look to answer a few of the frequently asked questions related to the popular snack.
Is Popcorn A Safe Treat For Chickens?
Chickens can eat popcorn safely, and generally enjoy eating the popular snack. However, popcorn should only ever be consumed as a treat, and in moderation. In other words, it should never be used to replace their regular healthy feed as this would disrupt a well-balanced diet.
Furthermore, the popcorn you give chickens has to be unflavored and plain. It can’t be salted, nor can it be drowned in either butter or sugar as this can lead to a number of problematic health issues.
For example, if you’re feeding your chickens a commercial diet, they should already be getting all the salt they need. Giving them an excessive amount of salt can result in kidney disease. Likewise, butter is similarly bad for chickens as it can cause them gas.
With all this in mind, you need to be careful if you use store-bought pre-popped popcorn as almost every brand of popcorn will contain some kind of flavoring or seasoning on it.
This is why, unless you can find the right brand with a minimal amount of additives, it’s always best if you pop the corn yourself so you know it’s completely safe.
The final consideration is to give the popcorn plenty of time to cool down before you serve it to your hungry chickens. This is because the center of popcorn can remain hot for some time after cooking, and the last thing you want is to have your chickens burning themselves.
Is It Healthy?
Yes, popcorn is a relatively healthy snack as it’s low in calories and is packed full of fiber and magnesium. Moreover, organic popcorn, which is becoming increasingly more popular, is high in vitamins A, E, and K, making it a great whole-grain snack to give your chickens.
Just keep in mind that, as is the case with any treat, popcorn shouldn’t take up more than 10% of your chickens’ daily caloric intake. Any more than 10% and you need to quickly start reducing the amount you give them.
As a general rule, a couple of handfuls of popcorn for a group of chickens is a sensible amount. You can do this a couple of times a week to provide them with a well-earned treat.
What About Unpopped Popcorn?
Whenever you make a large batch of popcorn, you’ll always be left with a number of unpopped kernels. The problem with kernels when feeding them to chickens is that they’re a massive choking hazard because of how tough they are. Most chickens should eventually be able to break them down, but they do pose a significant risk.
Unpopped kernels are much tougher than dried corn of any kind due to the fact that they result from water escaping from the inside of popcorn instead of building up to burst (as most kernels do).
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Best Way to Cook Popcorn For Chickens?
As mentioned earlier, most popcorn brands add a fair amount of sugar, salt, and other additives which ideally should be kept away from chickens. With this in mind, the best thing you can do is pop your own corn for your chickens.
Fortunately, this is incredibly quick and easy to do. Simply purchase some plain popcorn kernels, use either a popcorn ‘popper’ machine or a stovetop popper to cook the popcorn, then cool and serve.
Are There Any Other Treats Chickens Can Enjoy?
Yes, there are a number of healthy treats that chickens can enjoy as a snack. For example, they can safely consume cooked pasta, rice, or grits, as well as oatmeal and any other form of dried corn.
Furthermore, chickens can enjoy lots of different fruits, including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, peeled bananas, and apple chunks. Even if these fruits are a little overripe and squishy, it’s generally safe for chickens to eat them – just make sure there isn’t any mould.
Finally, chickens are omnivores which means that you can give them leftover meat cuts (so long as they’re unseasoned). For example, giving them bugs and worms that you find in the garden is a great way to add some protein into their diet.
Can Baby Chickens Eat Popcorn?
When giving baby chickens treats you need to be especially careful. In fact, chicks raised in a brooder shouldn’t have any treats until they’re much older and following a healthy, well-balanced diet.
For chicks to properly digest popcorn and kernels, they’d also need grit. This is because they’re still in a sensitive stage where they require all the best vitamins and minerals for growth. Feeding them too many treats can have a detrimental effect on their health.
With this in mind, it’s probably safer to give chicks some nutritious bugs and herbs as a snack instead.