Cornbread is fine for chickens in moderation, and I’m certain your flock will go crazy for it. Some people even make a more chicken-friendly cornbread with less sugar and salt, it’s super easy and just as nutritious.
Is Cornbread Healthy for Chickens?
Cornbread is one of the most well-known and versatile foods, especially in Southern cooking.
It’s no secret that chickens love cornmeal and it provides some great nutrition for them, so feeding them leftover cornbread is a no-brainer.
The good news is that it’s relatively healthy for them too. Cornbread is a good source of fiber, it contains a wide range of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and contains all 10 of the essential amino acids.
Typical ingredients for cornbread (according to my favorite Betty Crocker recipe) include:
- Baking powder
None of these ingredients are toxic or harmful to chickens, so it’s safe to feed your flock leftover cornbread.
At the same time, this isn’t ideal nutrition for them either. Chickens have some specific dietary requirements, most of which are easily met by feeding them a quality commercial feed.
As long as your flock is getting about 90% of their diet from their feed, you can feed them treats such as cornbread, fruits, vegetables, and over leftovers.
It’s actually a good deal of fun watching chickens gobble up other foods, and a good way to bond with them – so I do recommend giving them safe and delicious treats like cornbread.
Related – Can chickens eat cornmeal?
How to Make a More Chicken-Friendly Cornbread
If you chickens love cornbread (I’ve never met a chicken that doesn’t), and you feel like whipping something up in the kitchen – why not make some cornbread that’s even better for them.
All you need is:
- 1 cup of cornmeal
- 1 cup of whole flour
- 2 cups of milk
- 8 teaspoons of baking powder
- 2 eggs
- ½ a cup of olive oil
Mix up all the ingredients and pour the mixture into two baking dishes. Place them in a preheated, around 425 F should do, and bake for around 20-25 minutes or until you can see it’s cooked.
You can always tell when bread or cakes are cooked by sticking a knife in and seeing if it comes out clean.
Some Foods Chickens Should Not Eat
Chickens love cornbread, and most foods, but there are some foods that are known to cause chicken’s health issues.
Some of which may come as a surprise!
Here is a list of some of the common foods that pose a health risk to chickens. Avoid giving these to your flock:
Green Potatoes and Tomatoes – I often see it said that potatoes and tomatoes are harmful to chickens. It’s actually only when these foods are green, however.
Unripe tomatoes and potatoes that have turned green due to sunlight exposure are producing a toxin called solanine to deter bugs from eating them. This toxin is also harmful to chickens – and us for that matter.
Raw Beans – A lot of beans, such as broad beans, kidney beans, and soybeans are high in lectins, a compound that is toxic – even fatal – to chickens (and us). Only give your chooks beans that have been properly cooked as this destroys the toxin.
Chocolate – Chickens – and this applies to most pets – can’t metabolize compounds found in chocolate called theobromine and caffeine. This can cause vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, and some serious discomfort.
Tea and Coffee – Most teas and coffee also contain caffeine, and coffee contains theobromine. So, it’ll come as no surprise that these are also toxic to chooks.
Salty Foods – Too much salt can be very harmful to chickens. It’s recommended that 2% of dietary salt is the maximum amount they should be consuming.
Avocado Skin – The flesh of an avocado is fine, but the skin and pit contain a fungicidal toxin called persin. This toxin can cause respiratory distress, weakness, and some other health issues.
Moldy Foods – When leaving foods out or giving your chickens food that’s past its best, be very careful not to let them come into contact with mold spores. Mold is toxic – which isn’t really a surprise – and will cause some stomach upset.
Other Healthy Treats to Feed Your Chickens
It’s a lot easier to list what chickens can eat, as most foods are fine and chickens are notorious for not being picky!
Here are some of the foods I recommend giving to your chickens (in moderation) if you want to add some variety to their diet:
Vegetables – Most vegetables are fine and provide chicks with some great nutrition. As long as they’re fresh, they’re going to be good for your chickens. Some of the best are broccoli, kale, carrots, squashes.
Fruits – Fruits also contain a wide range of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other good stuff. It’s worth double-checking, but most are fine for chickens. Mine destroy melons, apples, figs, and bananas to mention just a few.
Grains – Grains are a staple in most commercial chicken feed and scratch mixes as they provide energy and good nutrition. Try feeding your flock some quinoa, wheat, corn, oats and cereals.
There are few foods more iconic to American history than cornbread, and it’s perfectly fine to feed it to your chickens in moderation.
I also covered loads of other foods that are and aren’t OK for chickens. Hopefully, this article has helped put your mind at ease and helped you find more tasty treats for your chooks.
Image credits – Photos by Jan Baborák and Pablo Lancaster Jones on Unsplash
Cornbread – BettyCrocker.com