So, Can Chickens Eat Corn Husks?

If you own chickens, you already know that they totally live up to their classification as omnivores. It seems like chickens will eat anything and everything, including some things that can really surprise you.

a chicken eating corn husks
a chicken eating corn husks

From the exotic to the gross and the borderline inedible, chickens can make use of all kinds of foods to get the calories and nutrition they need.

How about something like corn husks? Can chickens eat corn husks?

Yes, chickens may eat corn husks safely in limited quantities, and they can drive calories and a little bit of nutrition from them. However, corn husks are nowhere near nutritionally complete, and chickens that fill up on them will be missing out on vital nutrients from other foods.

In short, if you want to ensure that you use up every part of a corn cob or just give your chickens something to nibble on to stave off boredom, corn husks might be able to do the trick.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about giving corn husks to your chickens.

What are Corn Husks?

Corn husks are the protective leaves that surround an ear of corn. They are inedible for humans, as they are tough and quite fibrous.

However, some animals, including chickens, can eat them without issue. While people may not think of corn husks as food, they actually do contain a small amount of calories and nutrients.

Health Benefits of Corn Husks for Chickens

While corn husks don’t provide a ton of nutrition, they can be a good way to add some extra calories to your chicken’s diet, which can be helpful if you have chickens that are molting or going through a growth spurt.

Corn husks are about 3% protein and 4% fiber, as well as containing small amounts of vitamins and minerals.

Corn husks also offer some health benefits beyond just calories and fiber.

For example, they can help reduce boredom in chickens that are kept in smaller spaces, like chicken coops. Nibbling on corn husks can also help chickens keep their beaks clean and healthy.

In short, though it is nowhere close to a good nutritional supplement, chickens can still eat them safely.

Can Chickens Eat Corn Husks Raw?

Yes, they can, though they will likely need to be chopped up into fine pieces first. Serving corn husks raw to your chickens is perfectly safe, and they will be able to extract maximum if still meager nutrition from them this way.

corn husks in plastic crate
corn husks in plastic crate

Can Chickens Eat Corn Husks Cooked?

Yes, and cooking corn husks will make them significantly more palatable for your chickens.

If you cook corn husks before giving them to your chickens, they may be much more likely to actually eat them but what little nutrients are present in the husk will be degraded.

Beware of Pesticide on Grocery-bought Corn

One thing you must be aware of before serving corn husks to your chickens is the presence of pesticides.

Modern corn farming relies heavily on the use of pesticides, which can be dangerous for chickens if ingested in high enough quantities. You can depend on these pesticides being on any commercial corn you’d find in a grocery store.

These pesticides are supposed to be safe but are in actuality linked to all kinds of health issues in people and animals, including chickens.

Pesticide consumption has been linked to developmental issues, cancer, and even death in chickens. Worse yet, they have a way of slowly accumulating in tissues over time with repeated exposure.

So, if you’re going to give your chickens corn husks off of corn you bought at the store, be sure that they are coming from an organic and certified pesticide-free source to avoid these dangers.

Alternatively you can thoroughly wash or soak the husks to remove as much of the residues as you can.

How Often Can Chickens Have Corn Husks?

Chickens can have corn husks every week if you’d like, but only in small quantities, and they shouldn’t make up the entirety of their diet.

As we’ve established, corn husks are highly deficient nutritionally, and don’t have anything near enough vitamins and minerals that chickens need to stay healthy.

For this reason, they should only be used a boredom-busting snack or a way to reduce waste.

A good rule of thumb is to give your chickens a small portion of chopped corn husks whenever they need something to occupy them until their next meal.

Preparing Corn Husks for Your Flock

Proper preparation of corn husks is important if you want your chickens to enjoy them. They can eat them raw, but they will struggle to tear off small pieces that are easy to swallow without the risk of choking.

If you are serving your birds raw husks, it is best to chop them up into small pieces using scissors or a food processor.

Cooked corn husks can be simply boiled in water for a few minutes until soft, then chopped up with a knife and served to your chickens. You can also mix in the pieces to bulk up other foods and help your chickens get “more” from less.

Can Baby Chicks Have Corn Husks, Too?

Yes, baby chicks can have corn husks, but you’ll need to be careful. Corn husks are very hard for chicks to eat, and they may choke on them if they’re not properly prepared.

If you want to give your chicks corn husks, make sure to chop them up into tiny pieces or cook them until soft first.

You should also avoid giving your chicks too much corn husk, as it can easily lead to digestive issues.

Of course, you should also wait for chicks to grow up a bit first so they can handle them, around 6 weeks old.

While corn husks are technically safe for chicks to eat, again, they are not a nutritious food and should only be given in very small quantities infrequently as a treat.

Chicks should be living pretty much entirely on starter feed for the beginning phases of their life; their nutritional requirements are pretty steep, and corn husks simply do not provide enough of what they need.

Leave a Comment