Effects of feeding corn to chickens?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by harryg6167, Dec 3, 2009.

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  1. harryg6167

    harryg6167 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 20, 2009
    Asking this out of curiosity. I had read some other topics about feeding different types of feed
    and such and the subject of feeding corn arose. Some say feed as a treat only, and some feed it as
    a main part of their chickens diet. Some say it will cause problems in the long run.
    I was wondering what type of problems will it cause? Personally, I have never had any
    problems myself in feeding a pretty good amount of corn to all of my chickens. I do wait a month-2 months before feeding it
    to my baby chicks though.
    I but a mixture of feeds. I will buy some sacked feed from our local feed mill and at times I
    have them mix me my own recipe of feed. Either way corn is a main ingredient in my feed.
    Have been doing this for the past 25 years now with no problems, very good egg production, and
    with no health problems.
    I guess what I am wanting to know, if you had any problems feeding lots of
    corn, what was it so I will know what to look for. (In case I ever have problems) THANKS!
  2. Lazy J Farms Feed & Hay

    Lazy J Farms Feed & Hay Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feeding high levels of corn outside of a properly formulated complete feed will casue several issues:

    Hens will become fat
    Egg production will fall due to imbalances between energy and Amino Acids; plus the hens will not be consuming enough Essential Amino Acids for production.

    Corn is an energy source in livestock rations, the amino acid balance is incorrect for monogastrics which necessitates the addition of a proper protein source when making complete feeds.

    Use the corn as a 'treat' but don't over do the supplementation.

  3. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Do your chickens free range Harry??? If so, maybe they've been getting enough protein/nutrients from bugs/greens, etc. since they've done well for you this long on what you've been giving them??? I guess it's like dog food/cat food; they used to get whatever was on hand, leftovers, etc. Now everything is formulated for optimum health... Many would say if your birds seem happy and healthy, why change something that's not broken???
  4. harryg6167

    harryg6167 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 20, 2009
    Yes, my hens and roosters all free range also and go back to their pens at night to roost.
    Also, as the weather gets hotter here I do back off some on the amount of corn,but corn is and has always been
    the bulk of grain in our feeds. In our colder months (which seem few and very far between in South Louisiana) I up the corn amount some.
    The way my chickens all run around, they don't walk anywhere they go they probably need the extra energy
    the corn provides or I would have skinny hens then and who wants a too skinny hen if you go to bake or
    make dumplings out of it?
    Hey thanks to both of you, Jim, and teachirusl for your comments.
    I think I will go with the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" route for now and if
    we ever have problems I know where to look for the solution.
  5. KatyTheChickenLady

    KatyTheChickenLady Bird of A Different Feather

    Dec 20, 2008
    Boise, Idaho
    I always wondered this too. it seems that in the "old" school reading I have done that corn was the primary feed for chickens - but that they were also free ranging all day. I was thinking that perhaps the formulated feeds came about when they started looking for higher production from caged birds. I am probably all wrong, but that is the conclusion I came to based on nothing but my mental fumblings.
    Basicly, if you take a perfect formulated diet and add anything to it (such as high protien bugs and worms), you've messed it up right? So if you lower the protien by feeding corn, and then potentially raise it by allowing free ranging . . . you get a semblance of balance?
  6. GrannySue

    GrannySue Chillin' With My Peeps

    My chickens and ducks get 1/2 scratch and 1/2 laying pellets plus free choice oyster shell. And they all free range from dawn to dusk, year round.
    I know someone who feeds all her birds (chickens, geese, peacocks, deer*) just wheat, once the little ones are out of the brooder. She gets perfect eggs from her chickens.

    *Yes, I know deer aren't exactly birds, LOL, but they're freeloaders who wait for her to feed them as well.
  7. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    Quote:Right... Lets say you feed A 16% protein feed and you mix it half and half with corn (around 8% protein) you will then be feeding a 12% protein feed.
    The "old time" chicken people fed a lot of corn because it was/ is cheap and a easy "feed" to get not because it was good for the bird..

  8. destiny_56085

    destiny_56085 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2009
    Sleepy Eye, MN
    If you have a certain purpose for your birds.... For example if you want the maximum egg production, weight gain for butchering, feather condition for showing, etc then you should be concerned about their diet. If you have just a few backyard birds that you really aren't concerned about then go the cheapest route to keep them alive.

    Feathers, muscle tissue, vital organs, etc are all made out of protein. Those amino acids are the building blocks. Carbohydrates are energy sources. Fats have multiple roles as energy sources and for maintaining body function too. Here would be a similar situation in a human perspective.... Corn is to chickens is like M&M's are to me. Cheap... Love eating them.... Easy to find.... Both are great sources of carbohyrates (energy) but have very little protein. If I ate a diet of mostly M&M's, would my chances of getting fat increase....highly! IF I ate mainly M&M's would I be in any condition to run a marathon....probably not! Would you feed your growing kids nothing but M&M's? Now I know alot of people that don't regard their birds in the same aspect as their kids. There are alot of other people that rely on their birds for a living though.

    Corn does have its purpose. In winter, birds need a little extra energy to produce body heat. I know its probably not a huge issue in the southern states. When temps did to 20 below 0 up here in MN, alot of us feed corn to simply keep the birds alive. We sacrifice egg production, weight gain, etc by doing so.

    I will add another disadvantage to feeding corn. If you have exhition birds that are white, alot of corn in the diet will turn their feathers a yellowish color. This is not something that a bath will help. It also plays a role in skin color. We showed Ayelsbury ducks this year. The judge told us that he could tell that we fed our ducks some corn. He told us the secret to keeping that pinkish/white bills and skin is to supplement with oats or wheat along with starter mash and keep them away from any corn.
  9. PaulaJoAnne

    PaulaJoAnne Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 30, 2009
    My problem with feeding corn today, is that it is very hard, and expensive, to find Organic corn.
    Commercial feed/grains are made up of genetically modified corn and soy.
    That is a huge problem for me, and quite honestly, it should be for everyone else.

    If I could get my hands on organic corn at a decent price, I would give them a little bit as a treat.
    As it is, we feed them local organic barley with wild fishmeal, along with some sunflower seeds to up the protein a bit more and some alfalfa pellets.
    During the summer, we will drop the alfalfa and sunflower seeds, as they will be back to free ranging.
  10. halo

    halo Got The Blues

    Nov 22, 2007
    My Coop
    I confess I feed a lot of corn, its cheap, and they love it. But they also free range, and have a layer feed available to them. I figure they know whats best for themselves. They lay eggs, lots of them, shells are great, and they look good themselves and are very healthy.
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