Is popcorn okay?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by hennotrooster, Dec 12, 2012.

  1. hennotrooster

    hennotrooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My father in law says that it is okay to feed popcorn to my hens, is it. I have and they love it but I worry about them getting plugged up with it can this happen? I chop all the food I give them into small pieces and he laughs at me and says he never seen anyone do this. My hens will stand and look at the veggies if they are not cut into small pieces.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    I assume you are talking about popcorn that is already popped? A silly question maybe but I try not to assume. If it is not popped, it is no different than regular corn, which they grind up in their gizzard.

    My only real concern would be with the salt if you have a lot of salt on it. Unsalted would not be a problem. Chickens like many birds not associated with the seas can have problems with excessive salt.

    You have two concerns with the size of food they eat, impacted crop or impacted gizzard. Both of these can be caused by long strands of food like long pieces of grass becoming balled up so it cannot leave those organs. Remember there is a huge difference in what can happen and what will happen each and every time. Don't panic over nothing. Some people on this forum are good at doing just that.

    When chickens graze on living plants, they bite off small pieces. They will occasionally get a long strand but most are smaller in size. This is practically never a problem with grazing chickens. It's when they eat lots of long strands from cut grass or plants that it is more likely to be a problem and even then, it generally is not. Lack of grit in the gizzard can contribute to an impacted gizzard. That's why they need grit when they are eating certain foods.

    But back to popcorn. It is not in long strands. It will not get balled up and cause a blockage. They can handle it. I believe in moderation so I suggest you don't give them huge tubs of it at a time, but that is more of feeding them a more balanced diet than worries about a blockage.

    I'll mention that I've found plum pits in chickens’ gizzards when I process them for the freezer. They eat things that size and can handle it.

    Chickens are creatures of habit and extremely cautious about anything new. If they are used to getting food chopped up into tiny pieces, they don't know how to handle other things. Maybe this story will help explain it.

    A few years ago I gathered a pretty good sized cup of corn ear worms when preparing the corn from my garden for canning. I dumped those caterpillars near a bunch of free ranging 10 week old chicks. The bravest of those chicks would slowly approach those worms, carefully and cautiously creeping closer and closer. Then suddenly, one of those worms would wiggle. Run away! Run away! Quick! Quick!!!!

    Then they would very carefully start to approach again. A wiggle! Run away! Run away!

    Finally one got close enough and grabbed a caterpillar. Within just a few seconds that pile of caterpillars was gone.
     
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  3. hennotrooster

    hennotrooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well I am one of the ones that panic. I pop the corn myself and put our a handful for each one I have 6. They get plenty of greens and herbs along with their pellets plus some scratch and what ever bugs and reptiles the find on their hunts during the day. Loved your caterpillar story one of my girls won't eat large grubs she wants only the small ones thinner than a pencil. You mentioned grit is this something I need to provide? I give them oyster shells and they are always pecking at the ground. Thanks for the tips.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    If they have access to the ground, they are getting grit.
     
  5. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's not going to hurt them one bit, either popped or unpopped, but it's my understanding that whole corn kernels will mostly go right through a chickens digestive system without being digested--that is why people normally feed "cracked corn" not whole corn.
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    I'm not sure I totally go for that one. You might try it out. Feed some chickens whole kernel corn and see what comes out the other end. I really doubt you are going to see many whole kernels of corn. The gizzard takes care of that. They will peck through their poop so you need to look pretty quickly after they do their business for this experiment to be valid. Otherwise they'll find it and eat any that pass through.

    It's not totally off base though. I've read a study where chickens digest ground cornmeal better than whole corn. But whole kernel corn ranks real high on that digestibility by poultry compared to many other grains like wheat and oats. That's because of the percentage fiber. Whole kernel corn is digested really well too.

    I think one of the main reasons a lot of people use cracked corn instead of whole kernel is just that it is available. Some animals do digest it a lot better if it is cracked so you can buy it cracked. That's true for chickens too but for chickens that difference is pretty minor. If you are feeding huge quantities commercially that difference would be noticeable, but for us with just a few chickens, there's not enough difference to even think about.

    And as you say, whole corn won't hurt them a bit.
     
  7. hennotrooster

    hennotrooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for all the advice. They do love their pop corn no salt or butter.
     

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