Chickens enjoy snacking every once in a while. There are a number of tasty treats that you can give to your chickens but what about popcorn? Is this safe to feed and will it be beneficial to them if you do so? I decided to conduct some research into the topic which I would like to present to you here today.
So, can chickens eat popcorn? Chickens can eat popcorn and they generally really enjoy it. However, popcorn should be given as a treat and in moderation. It should never replace or displace their regular healthy feed.
We love to spoil our pets and providing treats is a great way to do so. Imagine having to eat the same foods every day. Although many animals do perfectly well doing this, it can be nice to offer your pets something a little special every once in a while. Your animals like it too.
Of course, they can’t eat the exact same things as us, but certain foods prove to be great treats. Popcorn is one of them.
Let us now explore the topic further by looking at how to feed popcorn, how much they can eat along with some other considerations.
How To Feed Popcorn To Your Chickens
You should only give your chicken popped popcorn. They prefer it all puffed up and cannot physically break down the kernels (which are hard and small. Chickens also require unflavored and plain popcorn; it cannot be drowned in butter, sugar or even salted.
This means that you will have to be careful if you want to use store-bought pre-popped popcorn. And while unsalted popcorn may sound a little boring to us, it is actually a perfect treat for a hungry chicken.
The problem is, almost every brand of microwaveable or pre-bagged popcorn will have some kind of seasoning or flavoring on it.
For the most part, even brands that market their popcorn as being “plain” or “unflavored” may sometimes have additives and flavoring so just be careful.
For the most part, unless you can find the right brand, it is always best for you to pop your corn yourself so you know it is perfectly safe.
Also, you’ll want to make sure that you give the popcorn time to cool before you serve it. It can remain a little hot at the center for some time, and this can be dangerous for the chicken to swallow as they risk burning themselves.
How Much Popcorn Can A Chicken Eat?
Popcorn is not really packed full of nutrients, so it should be provided in moderation and as a snack to chickens. Much like it is a snack for us humans.
A couple of handfuls for a group of chickens is the amount you should be looking to provide, 1-2 times per week.
This is something to have just as a little bit of a treat every once in a while and it should never displace their natural and healthy diet.
It is very important that you realize this is in no way a substitute for feed. They will suffer from malnutrition if you attempt to do this.
An ounce of popcorn has about 110 calories – 12 of which are from fat. An ounce provides 1.3 grams of total fat, 0.2 grams of saturated fat, and 2 milligrams of sodium (even when unsalted). Popcorn also has 0.2 grams of sugar and about 3.7 grams of protein.
There are minimal nutrients, vitamins and minerals in popcorn too.
In other words, it is really that nutritionally rich and should not be relied upon to do so.
So while popcorn serves as a nice snack every now and again, it should never become a staple in the diet of a human/chicken.
Other Healthy Treats For Chickens
Popcorn isn’t the only treat that chickens can enjoy and appreciate as a snack.
In general, they can enjoy most grains (that are again, unsalted and have no additives like butter).
Cooked, they can have some rice, pasta, or grits. They can also have oatmeal and any form or dried corn (which you may sometimes see mixed in certain feeds. They can also enjoy bread every once in a while.
They can also enjoy a lot of different fruits. Strawberries, blueberries, melons, peeled bananas, apple chunks, raspberries. Even if they are a little overripe and squishy, it is generally safe and enjoyable for them to snack on so long as there is no mold. This is the same for most vegetables as well.
Seeds, such as those from sunflowers or pumpkins, are also a tasty treat they will enjoy. They will also enjoy any bean you have but stick to cooked beans as well. Remember all of this needs to be unsalted and unseasoned.
Finally, it might feel a bit disturbing, but chickens are omnivores. This means that you can give them some (unseasoned) leftover meat cuts. Giving them worms that you find in the garden is also a great way to offer them protein.
How To Cook Popcorn For Your Chickens
A lot of popcorn brands that you will come across add a lot of sugar, salt and other additives which should not be fed to chickens.
As such, the best thing you can do is pop your own corn for your chickens. Its cheap, quick and easy to do.
Here are the three simple steps to do this.
- Purchase Some Plain Popcorn Kernels
- Use A Popcorn ‘Popper’ Machine or Stovetop Popper to cook/puff the popcorn
- Cool and serve.
Purchasing Popcorn Kernels
You can buy a number of natural and reputable brands of popcorn kernels on Amazon for rather cheap. Consider that the same popcorn that you feed your chickens is also safe for you to consume as well.
The good news is that a lot of the kernel brands on Amazon, like those above, are GMO-free and some are organic.
Using a Popcorn Popper Machine
Popcorn popper machines are affordable, easy to store and can puff up popcorn in a matter of minutes. There are a lot of different styles and options available depending on your preference and how often you are looking to cook some up.
Vintage Popcorn Cart – If this is going to be a regular affair, you may want to consider investing in a standing popcorn popper. These vintage machines will not only stir some nostalgia, but you will also be able to pop a lot and regularly. As opposed to being limited to a small serving size at a time, you can get a lot of popcorn made all at once for a whole flock of hungry chickens (or hungry humans).
Hot Air Poppers – There are also more cost-effective and space-effective devices you can use instead. Simple, plug in poppers will not produce the same volume as those standing popcorn machines, but they can still get a lot cooked in a short amount of time, Simply put it near a spare outlet and get to popping directly into a bowl. They monitor the heat of the popcorn too, and prevent burning. You can simply turn on and leave which makes them very user-friendly and ideal for children.
They are really low maintenance and don’t require you to constantly watch out for them the whole time which I think is a real plus. On top of that, they are compact and safe for a younger person to set up because it really is as easy as plugging something into a wall and dumping kernels at the top.
Stovetop Poppers – If outlets are a problem, stovetop poppers are another good option.
Stovetop poppers are not as child-friendly, but they are very effective. Remember that you must watch the kernels to prevent burning. They are generally easier to clean too. It is as easy as cleaning any other pot that you would use for the stove.
Microwavable Poppers – If you have a microwave, and are looking for the easiest option, there are also a microwave poppers on the market too. This will really limit you on size, but if you only need to cook a small amount at a time, it is ideal. Consider this an even easier method of cleaning as it is pure silicone.
Chickens can eat popcorn safely, and they tend to really enjoy it when you do. Due to its lack of nutritional value, it should be served infrequently as a treat.
That being said, it can be a great and nice way to offer variety and improve the general happiness and well-being of your birds.
Just be careful with store-bought brands as a lot of them contain harmful levels of sugar, fat, salt and other additives. For the most part, it is best to pop your own kernels and let them cool before you serve them.
Thankfully there are some great brands you can get on Amazon along with some convenient and affordable poppers to produce popcorn cost-effectively and easily over time.