Why won't my chickens eat corn??

rod5591

Songster
Oct 15, 2017
244
262
176
Cookeville TN
I have a mixed flock of 30 hens, 1 Rooster and 2 cockerels. I feed them layers feed, growers feed, scratch grains, and kitchen scraps.

The kitchen scraps vary and can be stale bread, uneaten rice, old chicken and tuna salad, chopped vegetables, etc. The amounts vary according to what a household of 2 will produce. Of all the food, the chickens seem to like the kitchen scraps best, I mean they come running when its offered!

I notice that all the birds will pass over any cracked corn or whole corn. I mean, it just lies on the ground uneaten.

I thought chickens liked corn? Why won't mine eat corn?
 

U_Stormcrow

Free Ranging
Jun 7, 2020
4,628
13,500
536
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
Corn is a low cost, low nutritional value feed source (mostly energy in the form of carbs and fats) used to bulk out feed mixes. The question is, if you are already feeding scratch and kitchen scraps, why you would want to try and get them to eat more corn, placing their diet even further out of nutritional balance???

For the typical backyard owner, of the typical backyard flock, following typical backyard management practices, I recommend All Flock/Flock Raiser, all their lives, with free choice oyster shell in a seperate dish, and not more than a reasonable amount of kitchen scraps. "Reasonable", as a family of two, with a flock of thirty+, is a term you are very unlikely to exceed.

/edit apologies for tone. When I first read your post, I assumed you meant you were feeding whole/cracked corn in addition - and that the chickens weren't eating that. But after reading NatJ's response, I agree that is the better interpretiation - that your chickens aren't eating the whole/cracked corn component of the scratch, which is far less concerning, and thus rendering the tone of my initial response rather "over the top".

My error.
 
Last edited:

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
8,147
16,988
706
USA
I notice that all the birds will pass over any cracked corn or whole corn. I mean, it just lies on the ground uneaten.
Is this in the scratch grains? They eat other things and leave the corn?

I thought chickens liked corn? Why won't mine eat corn?
Chickens can have odd preferences. Many chickens are happy to eat corn, but apparently yours have decided not to bother. Corn is a fine source of calories, but pretty low in protein and in most vitamins and minerals, so your chickens might be healthier if they do skip it.

If you leave whole corn on the ground, it can sprout, and sometimes chickens like to eat the young corn seedlings. Cracked corn won't sprout, so it just sits there until something eats it (chickens, wild birds, mice, worms, bacteria, etc.)
 

LaFleche

Meadow Devil
9 Years
Sep 22, 2012
7,287
26,751
932
Germany
Depending on your climate and your storing conditions, cracked corn becomes moldy and stale quite quickly. So maybe check it carefully if that is the case.
Also, there are different types of corn, of which some are not of their preference and will be left to rott.
 

rod5591

Songster
Oct 15, 2017
244
262
176
Cookeville TN
Is this in the scratch grains? They eat other things and leave the corn?


Chickens can have odd preferences. Many chickens are happy to eat corn, but apparently yours have decided not to bother. Corn is a fine source of calories, but pretty low in protein and in most vitamins and minerals, so your chickens might be healthier if they do skip it.

If you leave whole corn on the ground, it can sprout, and sometimes chickens like to eat the young corn seedlings. Cracked corn won't sprout, so it just sits there until something eats it (chickens, wild birds, mice, worms, bacteria, etc.)
Yes, the cracked corn is in the scratch grains bag. they eat the other grains and leave the cracked corn. But I've also tried whole corn, which is the lease expensive feed I can get. The only ones who will eat that are my two cockerels. I've also tried whole oats, without much success. We also give them oyster shell. I am just wondering about the whole corn because I've read post on here saying they only feed their chickens who corn in winter.

My birds are healthy and lay OK but I want to reduce the cost of feeding them if I can.
 

rod5591

Songster
Oct 15, 2017
244
262
176
Cookeville TN
Corn is a low cost, low nutritional value feed source (mostly energy in the form of carbs and fats) used to bulk out feed mixes. The question is, if you are already feeding scratch and kitchen scraps, why you would want to try and get them to eat more corn, placing their diet even further out of nutritional balance???

For the typical backyard owner, of the typical backyard flock, following typical backyard management practices, I recommend All Flock/Flock Raiser, all their lives, with free choice oyster shell in a seperate dish, and not more than a reasonable amount of kitchen scraps. "Reasonable", as a family of two, with a flock of thirty+, is a term you are very unlikely to exceed.

/edit apologies for tone. When I first read your post, I assumed you meant you were feeding whole/cracked corn in addition - and that the chickens weren't eating that. But after reading NatJ's response, I agree that is the better interpretiation - that your chickens aren't eating the whole/cracked corn component of the scratch, which is far less concerning, and thus rendering the tone of my initial response rather "over the top".

My error.
Your tone was fine! Thanks for taking the time to respond!
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
8,147
16,988
706
USA
Yes, the cracked corn is in the scratch grains bag. they eat the other grains and leave the cracked corn. But I've also tried whole corn, which is the lease expensive feed I can get. The only ones who will eat that are my two cockerels. I've also tried whole oats, without much success. We also give them oyster shell. I am just wondering about the whole corn because I've read post on here saying they only feed their chickens who corn in winter.

My birds are healthy and lay OK but I want to reduce the cost of feeding them if I can.

Corn is a pretty cheap feed, but it is not even close to a complete feed for chickens.

They might eat more of it in the winter, when they need more energy to stay warm, but they might not.

I agree that it's nice to reduce the cost of feeding chickens, but you don't want to cause nutritional deficiences, so it probably is best if they mostly eat the complete feed (layer feed and/or grower feed).

If they are leaving the corn, you might save money by skipping the scratch entirely. The scratch is probably cheaper per pound than the complete feed, but when they ignore the corn they are wasting some of the pounds you paid for, so it might be cheaper overall to just buy a little more of the complete feed. (Of course you would use up your current bag, but maybe not buy more.)
 

U_Stormcrow

Free Ranging
Jun 7, 2020
4,628
13,500
536
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
The easiest way to reduce feed costs, I've found, is to find a local mill producing quality fresh feed. Next, though much less certain, is to produce a poylcultural pasture where your chickens can graze on whatever they think they need, with no single feed so abundant that they can gorge. I do this myself, and save a bit on my feed costs - maybe 35% in late summer/early fall, and dropping to just 15% or so in winter. This is my (incomplete) thread on what I'm populating my pasture with - we are in differing USDA hardiness zones, it won't mostly be applicable to you. The key, I believe, is to make sure multiple plants of differing types are coming into season at all times.

While this greatly oversimplifies the case, my readings into poultry feed and nutrition suggest that most balanced feeds are based on a grain, perhaps a second grain, a legume, a seed, and (frequently) an animal/insect protein. Soy is so close in profile to many animal sources that it makes a regular stand in for "meat" as part of all "green" feeds.

Still experimenting to figure out what works best for me. Your answers will likely be similar in theory, but differ in specifics.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom