Chickens can eat many of the same foods as we do. And most chicken foods contain some dried corn for a little easy to digest grain. This might lead you to wonder about popcorn. If you make too much popcorn for movie night, you might become tempted to give your chickens a little. But is it safe? Can chickens eat popcorn? Let’s take a look.
Is Popcorn The Same As Dried Corn?
Contrary to popular belief, popcorn and dried corn are two different things. You can’t take kernels of any corn and make popcorn. There are six different types of corn, and popcorn is its own unique variety. Many chicken feeds will have some sort of corn mixed into it.
Chicken feed corn is usually yellow dent corn that is best fed during the winter when foraging is scarce. Popcorn kernels don’t have the same nutritional value as yellow dent corn. Popcorn is the lowest in sugar and is considered a whole grain with other essential nutrients.
But no matter what, corn is not a regular diet for your chickens and considered a treat. Corn of all kinds are high in fat and can cause obesity.
Can Chickens Eat Popped Popcorn?
Yes, your chickens will love to have a popcorn treat now and then. They will love the change of texture, and might even play with it some. You don’t want to give popcorn every day to your chickens, though, and there are certain types that you shouldn’t give.
You shouldn’t feed butter, salt, flavorings, or sweeteners to your chickens. Plain air-popped popcorn is the only type that you should give your chickens. So if your favorite popcorn is movie butter popcorn, you will need a different kind for your flock. Here are a few reasons your chickens need plain popcorn.
Why No Butter?
Butter is a dairy product that can cause gas in your chickens. The gas is the result of not being able to process the milk used to make butter. If your chickens have too much dairy, it could also cause bloating and diarrhea. Eventually, it will lead to lethargy and dehydration. So no movie butter popcorn for them.
Why No Salt?
Your chickens need salt for a healthy thyroid and to keep hydrated. If you are feeding your chickens a commercial diet, then they are already getting all of the salt they need. Giving your chickens too much salt could cause kidney disease.
The kidney’s function is to filter our blood, and the waste is expelled in urine. A chicken’s kidneys can’t filter the salt out, and the build-up will cause kidney failure or even death. Whatever treats you give your chickens, it should always be salt-free.
Why No Flavorings Or Sweeteners?
Because sugar is not suitable for us, it’s also not healthy for chickens. And since flavorings are usually filled with sweeteners, we have combined them here. Chickens who are fed a lot of sugar become obese and have a drop in egg production.
Every once in a while might not harm your chickens, but it could cause pickiness. Once they realize how sweet something can be, they might not eat it any other way.
Is Popcorn A Healthy Snack?
Popcorn is low in calories and is high in fiber and magnesium. Organic popcorn is also high in vitamins A, E, and K. If you are looking for a whole-grain snack to give your chickens, popcorn is a great option. It is also a light snack for your chickens if you want them to eat more of their regular food.
As long as your flock’s treat doesn’t make up more than 10% of their diet, popcorn is a great choice. Suppose you have a family movie night once a week and set aside plain popcorn for your chickens that is fine. They will enjoy the snack and different textures happily.
How To Make Healthy Popcorn
You have likely made store-bought popcorn without a hitch. These small microwavable pouches filled with buttery flavor packed popcorn can be delicious for you. But you want to steer clear of these pouches for your chickens.
Even bags labeled as plain have oils and flavorings inside them to make them taste better. Not to mention the preservatives that most popcorn companies add to their products.
Instead, you will want to make an organic air-popped popcorn. After it has been air-popped, you can set aside some for your chickens, and then flavor your own.
There are a few things you will need.
- A popcorn machine. We love the Hot Air Popcorn Machine.
- Organic popcorn, like Franklin’s Gourmet Popcorn, which is USDA organic
While you can make air-popped popcorn in a skillet, we find it easier to make it in a machine. You can make larger quantities in the Hot Air Popcorn Machine than in a skillet. And it’s so easy to use.
To use a popcorn machine, just set a bowl under the spout and add the Franklin’s Gourmet Popcorn. There should be instructions for how many cups of dry kernels make in popped popcorn.
There is no need for oils or butter to make air-popped classic popcorn. In minutes you will have a healthy snack for you and your flock. Don’t forget to let it cool completely before serving it up.
You can give popcorn to your flock once or twice a week, but not a lot. A couple of handfuls for your entire flock should be enough. It will disappear fast, but don’t let their squawking lead you to giving more. Remember that it is a treat and not a whole meal.
Can Chickens Eat Popcorn Seeds?
Popcorn seeds are the same as any corn seed. But, popcorn seeds are lower in sugar than any other corn type. If you grow your own popcorn, fresh off the cobb popcorn can be a healthy and nutritious snack.
Fresh popcorn is also high in protein and has a moderate amount of healthy carbs. And since it is soft before being dried, it is easily digestible. But it should still only be an occasional treat and not make up their entire food source.
Growing your popcorn also gives you an advantage in making your chicken’s boredom busters. You can hang a cob or two from some twine for your flock to peck at. Or you can give the entire cob to your hens to pick at and roll around. Corn cobs of any variety can be great fun for a chicken.
Can Chickens Eat Unpopped Popcorn?
After making a large batch of popcorn, it never fails that there are several kernels left. But can chickens eat popcorn kernels? Kernels are a tricky thing because they are tough. Unpopped kernels result from water escaping from the inside of popcorn instead of building up to burst. That means that unpopped kernels are harder than dried corn of any kind.
If you give the kernels to your chicken, their gizzard can eventually break it down. But it does pose some risk. Some chickens can choke on these hard kernels, but others have no problem using them as grit.
And in some cases, chickens don’t have enough grit to break down these hard kernels. In those cases, your chicken might have a hard time passing the undigested corn. If you have a smaller than average chicken, it probably isn’t a good idea to try.
Besides, chickens love to eat the popped corn more. So why give them something that they don’t care for?
Can Roosters Eat Popcorn Too?
So we have answered the question, Can chickens eat popcorn? But what about roosters? There isn’t a lot of things that your hens will eat that roosters won’t.
Your Roosters will love to eat a popcorn treat with their flocks. So you don’t have to worry about trying to separate your roos and hens for their popcorn treats. And they will appreciate it in any way that a hen would whether it be on the cob, fresh, or popped.
Can Baby Chickens Have Popcorn?
Giving baby chicks treats at all is a tricky balance. Chicks raised in a brooder shouldn’t have treats until they are older and eating a healthy diet. But chicks that are being raised by the mother could already be showing them how to eat treats. But for chicks to digest the popcorn and kernels, they would also need grit.
Chicks are in a sensitive stage where they need all the best vitamins and nutrients for growth. It is easy to give too many treats and harm your chicks. And in the case of popcorn, it could be challenging to eat.
Some popcorn could be too large for the chicks to eat and pose a choking hazard. It is best to give them nutritious bugs and herbs as a snack instead.
Can chickens eat popcorn? Yes, and they love it! While it might not be the best treat regularly, it does make eating fun. Your chickens will love the change in texture and having a little variety to their diets. If they are close enough to the house, they might even start getting excited to hear the air popper making their treats.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!