If you own chickens, you know by now that they can and will try to eat pretty much everything they can reach.
There is a lot that chickens can eat, but a long list of things they can’t, including a lot of junk food that people enjoy.
But not all junk food, as it turns out, is bad for chickens. How about popcorn? Can chickens eat popcorn?
Yes, chickens may eat popped popcorn safely so long as it is plain, but in moderation. Flavorings and seasonings should be avoided, as should unpopped popcorn kernels which may be too difficult for some chickens to digest.
In fact, many chickens seem to really enjoy eating popcorn. If you want to give your chickens a treat that will entertain them, give them a little energy and also some vitamins and minerals, you can do a lot worse than popcorn. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know.
Nutritional Profile of Popcorn
Popcorn often gets a bad rap as pure junk food, but this is only because of the tendency to load it down with butter, artificial flavorings, and other stuff that is just plain bad for you.
Playing popcorn is actually surprisingly decent. It contains lots of carbs, sure, but it has a fair amount of B complex vitamins and a surprisingly good array of minerals, including copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, and a bunch of zinc and selenium.
It even contains a little potassium to round things out and plain popcorn does not contain any sodium.
Health Benefits of Popcorn for Chickens
The primary benefits of popcorn for chickens are as a source of quick energy, but they will definitely make good use of the B complex vitamins and even better use of the minerals.
Copper and iron are fundamentally important for the creation of new blood cells and circulatory system health, magnesium is used to further strengthen bones and also to metabolize carbohydrates.
Meanwhile the fiber present in popcorn, which is substantial, can promote healthy digestion and solid stools so long as they do not eat it in excess.
Can Chickens Eat Popcorn Kernels?
The jury is out on whether or not chickens can safely eat unpopped popcorn kernels. Compared to other raw kernels of corn, popcorn kernels are quite hard, very dense, and comparatively difficult to digest.
Some keepers believe that popcorn kernels are a choking hazard for chickens and others assert that they are too hard to digest.
Still, plenty of keepers report that their own chickens have no problem eating and digesting popcorn kernels so long as they give them a little bit of extra grit to cope.
If you are in doubt, do not serve unpopped kernels of popcorn to your chickens, and make sure you remove on popcorns from the popped ones before serving.
Can Chickens Eat Popcorn Cooked?
Yes, chickens can eat popped popcorn and this is the ideal way to serve it to them.
The light and fluffy structure of pop popcorn is easy to break down into bite-size pieces and many chickens seem to get a lot of enjoyment out of rounding them up and eating them.
As mentioned above, just make sure to remove any unpopped kernels prior to serving if you don’t want your chickens to try eating them too.
Can Chickens Eat Flavored Popcorn?
No, chickens should never be served flavored popcorn of any kind. Grocery store-purchased flavored popcorns are invariably loaded down with preservatives, artificial ingredients, extra salt, and all kinds of junk that you definitely don’t want your chickens eating under any circumstances.
Stick to serving your chickens plain popcorn only.
Never Feed Popcorn to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
For further clarity, even if you are preparing plain and unadulterated popcorn kernels yourself for your chickens you should not add any flavorings like salt, sugar, butter, cheese, or anything of the sort.
At best, your chickens will be getting way too many calories which will promote weight gain. At worst, it could make them very sick or lead to dangerous and deadly conditions like fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome or salt poisoning.
Once more, chickens should be served plain and unsalted, unbuttered popcorn only!
How Often Can Chickens Have Popcorn?
Chicken’s going to have popcorn occasionally, a couple of times a week as a treat.
The basis of a chicken’s diet should be primarily chicken feed, anywhere from 80% to 90% of their total calorie intake depending on their breed and other specifics.
However, the remaining 20% to 10% of their food may be made up of supplemental items and treats, including popcorn.
Preparing Popcorn for Your Flock
You probably already know how best to prepare popcorn for your flock. Simply pop and serve, and you can scatter it, put it out in a bowl or give it to them and any other way that makes sense for you and their living arrangement.
Can Baby Chicks Have Popcorn, Too?
Yes, chicks may have popcorn but you’ll want to wait for them to get a little bit older before you start supplementing their chicken feed with treats and other foods.
Once they are about 6 weeks of age you may let them nibble on a few popped kernels of popcorn, but keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t choke or suffer any digestive problems.
It is worth mentioning that you should never serve unpopped popcorn kernels to chicks, as they won’t have any chance of digesting them even if they can swallow them.
Make Sure to Clean Up any Uneaten Popcorn
Although popcorn seem so light and airy that will basically turn to dust and blow away if left to sit this is not the case, and as it goes stale it can attract other pests, namely insects and rodents.
Although your chickens will happily eat any insects that they can catch, mice, rats, raccoons and the like will definitely pose problems for your flock.
They might be drawn by the popcorn you left out, but they will stay because they are able to kill chicks, steal eggs, or even take a bite out of full-grown chickens from time to time.
Always clean up after your chickens are done eating the popcorn to reduce the likelihood that these pests will show up and cause problems for you.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.