Chickens are a popular breeding animal in both rural and urban areas. And because they are omnivores, they tend to eat almost everything edible. So, naturally, when you have leftover popcorn from movie nights, you may want to feed it to your chickens as well!
However, you may be surprised to learn that not everything is healthy for chickens – in fact, some foods may be poisonous to them. So, stay tuned to find out more about healthy chicken treats as we answer the question, “Can chickens eat popcorn?”
Is it Safe to Feed Chickens Popcorn?
The short answer is yes and no.
Without a doubt, chickens enjoy eating a wide variety of edible foods, including popcorn! But first, there are a few things you should know before feeding your chickens any kind of popcorn.
Not all kinds of popcorn are good for chickens. During movie nights, you can eat flavored popcorn that contains sugar, salt, butter, and chocolate, among other things. However, if you want to give your chickens popcorn, make sure the popcorn does not contain any of the additives that are commonly found in popcorn.
This means you should avoid store-bought popcorn with flavoring additives. Instead, feed the chickens plain, air-popped popcorn that you have made yourself. It should NOT contain any of the flavorings commonly found in popcorn, such as sugar, salt, cheese, or oil, among other flavors. So what can chickens eat and not eat?
If you’re wondering if other birds can eat popcorn, we got you covered.
Can Chickens Eat Unpopped Popcorn (Kernels)?
Additionally, you may find kernels in your popcorn that are unpopped and difficult to chew. Make sure to remove all of the kernels before feeding the popcorn to your chickens. This is because the kernels can cause choking and are generally more difficult to digest.
Can Chicks Eat Popcorn?
Chicks are in a very vulnerable stage of development. They require a healthy, sufficient diet to obtain all of the nutrients they require. Moreover, chicks have a sensitive digestive system that may not digest the kernels in popcorn. The popcorn may also be too large and pose a choking hazard to the young ones.
If you’re considering feeding popcorn to your chicks, make sure to start with their starter feed at least until the sixth week. Once they’re old enough, you can give them popcorn as a treat.
Can Chickens Eat Popcorn Seeds?
They certainly can! However, popcorn seeds contain fewer nutrients than dried corn or chicken feed, so feeding them to your chickens should be done as a treat rather than as a full meal.
Can Chickens Eat Buttered Popcorn?
Another often asked question is, “Can chickens eat buttered corn?” The answer is no. The only popcorn safe to feed to chickens is plain and air-popped. Any popcorn that contains flavorings, including butter, is unhealthy for chickens to eat.
The reason for this is that butter is a dairy product. Chickens typically have difficulty processing dairy products, resulting in gas that causes bloating and diarrhea. You may also never feed salted or sweetened popcorn to your chickens which may cause kidney disease, weight gain, and lesser egg production.
Is Popcorn Healthy for Chickens?
You may be wondering whether popcorn is a healthy treat for chickens now that we’ve established that it’s safe to feed it to them. Well, not exactly.
Popcorn is high in fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A, E, and K, all of which are beneficial to chickens. While the fiber in popcorn is beneficial to chickens, they don’t require that much fiber to be fed popcorn on a regular basis.
Magnesium, on the other hand, offers more benefits to chickens because it strengthens their bones and helps with carbohydrate digestion. Vitamins A, E, and K help with muscle strength and blood clotting. So, yes, popcorn has some value in keeping chickens healthy.
However, these nutrients are only a small portion of what chickens require. Popcorn alone is not nearly enough to keep chickens healthy. So make sure to only feed your chickens popcorn in moderation, say once a week. Since popcorn should never be your chicken’s main source of nutrition, you should stick to chicken feed and only give them popcorn as a treat.
What Should You Feed Chickens?
Aside from chicken feed, you can feed your chickens a variety of foods. They frequently prefer dried corn, which has more nutritional value. You could also try one of these treats:
- Cooked and unsalted beans
- Peeled or scraped vegetables
- Whole grains, such as oats or cereals
- Cooked protein, such as meat, fish, or eggs
- Chopped fruits, such as bananas, melons, and berries, among others.
What Should You Not Feed Chickens?
We mentioned that not everything is good for chickens to eat. Any flavored popcorn should not be fed to chickens. This includes salted, sweetened, or buttered popcorn. Here are some of the things you shouldn’t feed chickens.
- Uncooked beans or rice are indigestible and may pose a choking hazard.
- Chocolate, which contains a lot of sugar, which can lead to weight gain, obesity, and decreased egg production.
- Green or sprouted potatoes contain a toxin called solanine that is harmful to the chicken’s nervous system.
- Salty processed foods, such as potato chips – Too much sodium from salt may cause kidney disease. The salt in chicken feed is sufficient to maintain a healthy thyroid gland.
How to Feed Chickens Popcorn
Since chickens should only eat plain, air-popped, homemade popcorn, you can make your own using a popcorn machine or a skillet. Make sure to use organic popcorn. There is also no need to add any oils, butter, or flavorings. These are harmful to your chickens!
Your popcorn should be ready in a matter of minutes. Allow them to cool before you feed them to your chickens in a couple of handfuls once or twice a week. Remember that this is only a treat, so keep your portions small!
Are There Other Benefits to Feeding Chicken Popcorn?
While popcorn is not a staple diet for chickens, they do enjoy eating it. Besides being fun treats for them to enjoy, they also provide them with another important benefit: entertainment.
When you feed your chickens popcorn, they will become excited about the change in their diet. This frequently has a calming effect on them.
You may have noticed your chickens fighting, feather plucking, or being overly noisy, all of which are signs of stress. They may also be laying fewer or no eggs. Popcorn treats help to calm them down, relieve stress, and keep them happy!
Sue’s favorite pastime? Watching a good movie with a giant tub of popcorn by her side. Her friends and family know that if they want to get her something, popcorn is always a safe bet. Sue has an adventurous spirit and loves to travel exploring new places – she’s been to more than 40 countries!