i know they can eat popcorn ....but

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by kentucky jay, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. kentucky jay

    kentucky jay Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 16, 2010
    can chickens eat un-popped popcorn kernels ?
  2. flakey chick

    flakey chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 3, 2007
    I expect that they if one did, it would act like just another pebble in its gizzard. I don't think they would get any nutritional value out of it, but it's not like it would explode in their belly or anything like that.
  3. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    The pigeon grain mix I use as a "scratch" has popcorn in it my bird do just fine on it...
    In short un-popped popcorn is 12% Protein - 69.7% Carbohydrates - 11% Water - 2% Fiber - 5.2% Fat

    Last edited: Jan 3, 2011
  4. nczookeeper

    nczookeeper Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 30, 2010
    I'm far from an expert - BUT the vet who does acupuncture on my dog (the person who got me into backyard chickens) was telling me a couple weeks ago that she lost a chicken due to a liver disease that came from corn consumption - and added that she only gave them corn as treats, just a handful here and there. [​IMG]

    After hearing that, I might give mine a handful of popcorn a week between the four of them, but I, personally, am too scared to chance loosing any of them on what's supposed to be a treat.

    Mine like green beans, uncooked oatmeal and were loving this 'Happy Hen Treat' I bought from one of the chicken catalogs. . .it was pricey. The ingredients were black sunflower seeds, sunflower kernels, oats and dried rasins. . .so I bought a big bag of black sunflower seeds, already had oatmeal, and some rasins and made my own for a fraction of the cost. I toss them some Timothy hay - which they like to nibble on, and the store had some with marigolds and cranberry in it for small animals - so after checking about the cranberry, I bought that and they went crazy over it. Just a handful a day - to give them something more to pick around as the ground is pretty frozen in the morning.

    As I mentioned, I'm no expert - just be careful with the corn.
  5. Chicken.Lytle

    Chicken.Lytle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 19, 2010
    Montgomery County, TX
    I am also not an expert.

    I assume the question is really whether a chicken can safely swallow an unpopped kernel. After all, unpopped popcorn is ... corn. Knowing the kinds of yard scraps my chickens swallow whole, I believe unpopped kernels can be eaten, depending on the size of the bird. If not, do a chicken Heimlich .
  6. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

    Aug 13, 2007
    North/Central Florida
    Yes, they can eat it, but unpopped popcorn is as about as hard as it gets for a grain so even with good grit it's not something I'd give them large quantities of. A little in the scratch is fine.
  7. bawkbawkbawk

    bawkbawkbawk Chillin' With My Peeps

    Eating corn kills chickens? I would want to see more info on that - my understanding is that chickens have been eating corn since time immemorial. Are you sure there wasn't something else going on with the disease process in that bird?
  8. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    Maybe that chicken was getting too much corn.

    Lots of parrots like soaked unpopped popcorn kernals, too. It softens it, as it swells with water. Mmm...
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2011
  9. nczookeeper

    nczookeeper Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 30, 2010
    Quote:I'm just telling you she had the poor hen (young) checked and was told it was dieing of fatty liver disease - due to corn consumption. While reports online state in small amounts when not a sole food - corn is 'excellent' - her hen died from just getting a handful each day and shared with other hens.

    Maybe her bird had some kind of genetic thing that left it more vulnerable. . .I bought my hens from the same hatchery and they are all very healthy. . .I won't take a chance - but everyone is welcome to do as they wish - just passing on what I was told. Since this person IS a vet and it was her hen that she raised since a chick, I'm certain she didn't get her facts screwed up.

    Causes for Fatty Liver Hemorrhagic Syndrome
    This problem is commonly referred to as Fatty Liver Hemorrhagic Syndrome. It results when large amounts of fat is deposited in the hen's liver and abdomen. The liver becomes soft and easily damaged and is more prone to bleeding. The liver contains many blood vessels that rupture easily during egg laying, resulting in massive bleeding and death.

    When laying hens are fed diets containing high levels of dietary energy the hens tend to deposit excess energy as fat deposits in their bodies, especially the liver. The problem is more common when feeds containing high levels of corn or other high energy ingredients is fed. Therefore, it is not advisable to feed chopped corn as the sole feedstuff to laying hens.

    The condition is most often seen in birds that appear to be healthy and in a state of high egg production. Non-laying hens will not eat as much of the high-energy feed and therefore are not affected as much as high producing hens.

    The problem can be prevented by feeding complete layer diets that contain the proper amounts of all nutrients. Corn is an excellent ingredient for poultry diets, but should not be fed as the only feed for hens. Therefore, do not feed corn as the only feed or in combination with complete feeds.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2011
  10. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    Sound like to me that either the person that checked the bird, or your vet is giving half the story.

    Condition that affects only hens, primarily caged layers, it is thought to be an excessive calorie intake, but it may also be related to exposure to the mycotoxin aflatoxin, calcium deficiency and stress. An incorrect protein: energy balance may be to blame. Some strains of laying hen appear to be more susceptible. Birds within a flock that are most affected tend to be the higher producing hens. Fatty liver syndrome has been seen in conjunction with cage layer fatigue.

    Fatty liver syndrome is a condition that affects only hens, primarily caged layers. It is a metabolic or nutritional disease and is characterised by general obesity with an enlarged, fatty liver that becomes soft and easily damaged. Mortality rates vary with death often caused by internal haemorrhage due to rupture of the liver.

    What causes fatty liver syndrome?
    The principal cause is thought to be an excessive calorie intake, but it may also be related to exposure to the mycotoxin aflatoxin, calcium deficiency and stress. An incorrect protein: energy balance may be to blame. Some strains of laying hen appear to be more susceptible. Birds within a flock that are most affected tend to be the higher producing hens. Fatty liver syndrome has been seen in conjunction with cage layer fatigue.

    Prevention and treatment of fatty liver syndrome.
    he principal causes of fatty liver syndrome are related to feed ingredient quality or inappropriate feed formulation. Unless caused by aflatoxin or calcium deficiency, the main treatment for this condition is to reduce the amount of dietary energy consumed. If a complete layer ration is being fed, addition of vitamins can be of benefit. However, control of body fat is the only successful remedy for this condition and is best accomplished by regulation and reduction of total energy intake. If aflatoxin is involved, the contaminated feed must be replaced. If a calcium deficiency is suspected, adding large particle calcium to the diet is recommended, as this allows the hen to select an increased calcium intake without over-consuming the energy component of the diet. Some farmers add choline chloride to feed as a treatment, effects are variable however.

    Poultry Health Handbook 4th Ed, 1994. L. D. Schwartz, Pennsylvania State University.

    And here is another

    Fatty liver syndrome was first described in the 1950s as excessive fat in the liver associated with varying degress of hemorrhage. The condition is almost universally confined to caged birds fed high-energy diets, and is most often seen in summer months. The liver is usually enlarged, yellow or putty colored, and very friable. The abdominal cavity contains large amounts of fat. Fatty liver syndrome without excessive body fat is thought to be associated with mycotoxins (eg, aflatoxins) in feed. See mycotoxicoses, Mycotoxicoses: Introduction . The affected birds may also have pale combs. The ovary is usually active and the metabolic and physical stress associated with oviposition may be factors that induce the fatal hemorrhage, although mortality generally is <5%.
    Because fatty liver syndrome seems to occur only when birds are in a positive energy balance, the monitoring of body weight is a good diagnostic tool. Through force-feeding techniques, it has been shown that fatty liver syndrome is caused by an oversupply of energy rather than by an excess of any specific nutrient, such as fat or carbohydrate. The condition can be induced experimentally in layers and even male birds by the administration of estrogen, reinforcing the concept that it occurs more frequently in high-producing birds that presumably are producing estrogen from very active ovaries.
    The condition is easy to recognize at necropsy due to the liver hemorrhage and also the fact that the liver is often enlarged and engorged with fat. This makes the liver friable, and it is difficult to remove each lobe in one piece. The pale yellow color of the liver, while characteristic, is not always specific to this condition. Normal layers fed appreciable quantities of yellow corn will also have a yellow liver. Also, liver color may be indicative of dietary xanthophylls rather than fatty liver syndrome, because the condition can be induced by force-feeding semi-purified diets devoid of pigment; these birds lack the characteristic yellow liver. Birds with fatty liver syndrome have 40-70% fat in the liver dry matter. In many studies, the degree of fatty liver syndrome is described via a liver hemorrhage score, which is usually based on a scale from 1-5, in which 1 = no hemorrhage, 2 = 1-5 hemorrhages, 3 = 6-15 hemorrhages, 4 = 16-25 hemorrhages, and 5 = >25 hemorrhages, including a massive, usually fatal, hemorrhage.
    Attempts have been made to prevent or treat the condition through diet modification. Substituting carbohydrate with supplemental fat, while not increasing the energy content of the dietary, seems to be beneficial. Presumably such modification means that the liver needs to synthesize less fat for yolk. Replacement of corn with other cereals, such as wheat and barley, is often beneficial. However, this substitution may involve a reduction in dietary energy level or may necessitate the use of additional fat to maintain isoenergetic conditions, and these 2 factors are known to influence fatty liver syndrome. The syndrome has reportedly been reduced through the use of various byproduct feeds such as distiller’s grains and solubles, fish meal, and alfalfa meal. Although the mode of action is unclear, unintentional supplementation of selenium may be involved. Addition of 6% oat hulls to the feed has been successful at times. Fatty liver syndrome is best prevented by not allowing an excessive positive energy balance in older birds. Body weight can be monitored and when potential problems are seen, remedial action taken to limit energy intake through the use of lower energy diets and/or change in feed management. A wide energy:protein ratio in the diet will aggravate fatty liver syndrome. On farms with history of fatty liver syndrome, the diet should be supplemented with 0.3 ppm selenium, up to 100 IU vitamin E/kg diet, and appropriate levels of an antioxidant such as ethoxyquin.


    Last edited: Jan 3, 2011

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