Corn is great for chickens, they love it. But what about popcorn? Can chickens eat popcorn? Should you be sharing your leftovers with them?
Chickens can eat popcorn, yes. It’s definitely a treat food though, and you should only give them unsalted without any additives or other flavorings. Just plain old popcorn.
Can Chickens Eat Popcorn Kernels?
Yes, they can eat the kernels. It’s much better to give them the popcorn after the kernel has exploded and turned into the larger, softer end product we know as popcorn.
But, as we know, some of the kernels don’t pop and there are always some mixed in with the popcorn. We don’t eat those, but chickens happily will.
You can use kernels in a scratch you’re giving your flock. Scratch is a treat food, it’s generally lower in protein anyway. They are really hard and don’t provide much in the way of nutritional content, but fine in small amounts.
Can Roosters Eat Popcorn?
Yes, roosters and hens eat the same foods. A laying hen will benefit from a little more calcium, and a growing pullet can use more protein. But generally speaking, adult hens and roosters can eat the same commercial feed and treats.
Is Popcorn a Healthy Snack?
Popcorn can be a healthy snack. When it’s air-popped and doesn’t have any sweeteners, flavorings, and additives, it’s a whole grain, high-fiber snack.
If you’ve ever eaten plain popcorn it’s pretty bland. The stuff you eat at the cinema is much tastier because it’s flavored, and it’s far from healthy.
Your best best is shop-bought popcorn. This way you can either make it yourself, which is a lot of fun. Or it may have already been popped but hasn’t had any flavorings added.
This way you can be sure what’s really in it. Plus, you can put some of the bland stuff aside for your chicks, and make yourself some of the sweet-tasting corn.
Can Chickens Eat Sweet Popcorn?
Well, they can, and a little shouldn’t hurt. But, the “sweet” part of sweet popcorn is referring to the sugar and butter that’s added to give it a glaze.
I shouldn’t need to tell you that sugar and butter are two ingredients chickens could do without.
You’re already treating your chickens when sharing plain unsalted popcorn with them. Giving them sweet is a step too far.
Something else to note is that dairy products such as butter can fuel flatulence for chickens. That might sound funny, but it’s really not.
What Does Salt Do to Chickens?
Salt is important to chickens. It helps promote a healthy immune system, aids muscle development, is important for laying hens, and more.
Chickens get enough salt from their feed and the other foods you give them though. You should never add salt to any foods you give them, and you should avoid giving them “salted” foods.
Too much salt can cause them some health issues. It can even cause kidney disease in the long-term and be fatal.
What Else Can Chickens Eat That We Do?
There are loads of other foods that chickens will happily eat, and some provide some important nutrition for them.
It’s easier to list the things they should avoid (which I will do below), some of the common human foods to share with your chicks include:
Grains - Commercial feeds contain a lot of grains. You can give them oats, barley, rye, wheat, and other grains to supplement their diet.
Fruits - Most fruits are fine. As long as they’re in date and good enough for you to eat, they are fine for your flock.
Vegetables - Most vegetables are also great for chickens. Be cautious of members of the nightshade family, green tomatoes, in particular, are bad.
Corn - As well as popcorn chickens can eat other types of corn.
Herbs - Herbs are great, and there are loads to choose from all offering different health and wellness properties.
What Should Chickens Not Eat?
I can’t include everything on this list, so don’t assume you can give your chickens anything that I don’t mention.
Don’t give them any of the foods on this list though, some are very toxic and potentially very harmful:
Coffee and Chocolate - Both of these contain theobromine and caffeine. Two compounds that are harmful to chickens, and most pets for that matter.
Green Potatoes and Tomatoes - This is where it gets complicated. Normal ripe potatoes and tomatoes are fine. Green ones are not, they’re part of the nightshade family and contain toxins solanine and chaconine, which are harmful to chicks.
Raw and Dried Beans - Dried beans or any beans that have not been cooked properly contain phytohaemagglutinin. A long word, and a toxin that’s potentially very toxic to your flock.
Avocado Seeds and Skin - The seed also called the pit along with the skin of avocado also contains toxins that are bad for chickens. The flesh is fine though.
Moldy Food - The toxins that spawn as the result of mold growing on food is also toxic. It’s not really a surprise, who wants to eat moldy foods!
Related content - Here's more about why coffee grounds are bad for chickens.
Now you know, next time you have some popcorn or the kernels that didn’t quite make it as popcorn you can feed some to your chickens.
Keep in mind that you should only be sharing unsalted and unsweetened popcorn and foods in general. Plus, these kinds of treats that are in addition to their commercial feed should not exceed 10% of their overall diet.
Chickens get all the nutrition they need for their formulated feed and fresh drinking water. It’s fun to mix it up and share other foods with them, just act responsibly when doing so.