Should Chickens eat popcorn? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

OK, I am new to this chicken thing (I have 6 R/R) and was wondering what would be good for chickens to eat. Right now I am feeding them ONLY "grower/finisher" pellets 15% protein. Soon to be giving them "layer" pellets. And giving them water via rabbit bottles. I see posts of people feeding them just about anything under the sun. Will a diverse diet help them to lay better/more.

Thanks Andy

-- Andy in MD (, January 02, 2002


Well, the layer pellets are meant for those who don't want to have to figure out a balanced diet, and/or who keep the chickens confined so that they can't go outside to scratch around. I'm just saying that it is a complete diet by itself. When they are allowed outside they do eat less of the layer feed, because they prefer to eat greens and bugs, worms, whatever they find. Of course in winter, they don't find much, so eat more layer. They do eat almost everything. Ours don't eat onions, orange or grapefruit peels, but almost anything else edible, they eat. In my experience the feeding of scraps may actually lower the egg production a little. Probably because it is a change of diet, and the scraps that are fed are not the same all the time, thereby changing their diet frequently. We do always save any food scraps for them, it's something we don't get uptight about.

-- Dianne Wood (, January 02, 2002.

I feed our chickens left over popped corn all the time. They love it and it's fun to hear the crunch-crunch as they eat it.

-- Nancy (, January 02, 2002.

Andy, In the winter in areas where the weather kills most green stuff and the insects hibernate(like Kansas), the hens lay more with laying pellets. I still feed mine scraps and yes, popcorn since they enjoy it so much. I am not certain if it does anything to egg production but it makes them happy. I have never heard of watering chickens with a rabbit bottle waterer. My chickens like to put their beaks down in the water to drink. Are you sure they are getting enough water doing that?? Remember that egg production takes lots of water as well as feed. Have fun and enjoy those big brown eggs, RIReds are one of my favorite layers. karen

-- Karen in Kansas (, January 02, 2002.

Thanks for your advice. I was concerned they would not get enough water as well. I have two large 32 or 40oz (can't remember which) water bottles that by the time I get home from work are 3/4 empty. They had a regular gravity waterer, but it was always full of chicken stuff and always leaking (big mess :-( ) I have seen them pecking at the bottles and seem quite content with the amount they are getting.

Thanks again :-)


-- Andy in MD (, January 02, 2002.

Hi Andy. The company where my husband works has a commercial style corn popper and on special days, someone pops corn for the employees. Just before Christmas they did this and I put in my request for the leftovers and unpopped kernels. It was probably enough to fill 2-3 5 gallon buckets. I portioned it out over several days and the chickens loved it. Small quantities of such goodies don't usually change the overall balance of their rations and I would be feeding them a little scratch feed anyway.

-- (, January 02, 2002.

Here in Western NY, we have snow snow snow and temp hasn't gotten out of the 20s in over a week. We water our chickens with a black rubber bucket made from recycled materials. I think rubber tires. Purchased at the feed store for about $8. We fill it with water and set it in the center of the coop. It does get ice skimmed on the top and the chickens can peck through that. When the temp has been really bitter (-20F) the bucket has frozen solid at night, but not during the day. The good thing about this bucket is that it is very flexible. It won't split or have the bottom buckle when frozen. You can literally kick the snot out of the bucket and it won't break. We tip it upside down and jump on it to get the ice out. We've hit it with a sledgehammer too, it doesn't break. Now after I've said all this, I'm sure someone will post how their's broke:) It's very important that the chickens have water during the day. We bring the water bucket in the house at night during the winter.

Popcorns no problem. We feed noodles, vegetables, fruits, bread, cereals, but ALWAYS provide their laying mash.

-- Charleen in WNY (, January 02, 2002.


Sounds like a good idea, but I do not think I really want to "Kick the bucket" hahahaha.

Thanks again Andy

-- Andy from MD (, January 02, 2002.

I've wondered if unpopped popcorn would be harmful to feed or not. But I would be watchful of feeding raw rice. It does expand a lot and has been known to kill wild birds that have eaten too much (like when rice is thrown at weddings in the past but many now use bird seed). Some raw rice is okay to feed, just watch you don't give too much. If in doubt, either don't feed any or soak it before feeding (a few hours to over night). A diverse diet won't help them to lay any better then a commertial feed, but will help you on your feed bill (scraps, extra or overripe garden produce, any free produce you can get like display pumpkins after Holloween, etc...).


-- animalfarms (, January 02, 2002.

Hi Andy, yes, chickens can safely eat just about anything, they are truely omnivorous creatures!

But you are going to seriously compromise their egg laying capability if you continue to offer water by "rabbit bottle" only, chickens that are of laying age consume lots and lits of water, after all, that's what eggs mostly are, water! Come summertime and high heat and humidity, you could adversely affect their health as well, chickens cool themselves by panting, which disperses lots of water, which they need to replace quickly and easily, which they cannot do drinking from a "rabbit bottle". You could kill them quickly and not even realise they are dehydrated.

Offer free choice water in an open topped, wide and low container that they can stand flatfooted next to and dip their beaks comfortably in the water. A large dish pan type container is perfect, and easy to keep clean and knock the ice out of in the winter as well.

And yes, the more diverse type diet the better for their health, just be sure to offer the laying ration free choice as well, let them choose what they want to eat.

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (, January 02, 2002.

I have read about the onion,and certain mints but not about the orange or grapefruit peals-why not? What about bannana skins. This has been my first raising of chickens for many years and though during the summer etc they were in a " egg mobile" or a moveable pen I always thought I had to give them only the mesh or scratch and thus didn't give my kitchen or garden leftovers until I was educated from you all about what little compose machines the chickens were. My concern is that since I have been hit hard with the coons and weasel the ones I have left are getting very spoiled and may not want to share come spring when the new ones arrive. Thanks again Lenny

-- darlene (, January 02, 2002.

I can't even get the piggies to eat grapefruit, orange, or bannana skins. On the other hand, they'll fight to the death for lobster leftovers! (We're in Maine). Those veggie (fruit?) leftovers go to the compost pile. Chickens will sometimes eat onion or garlic parts, but don't give them. You'll get some powerfully flavored eggs if they do! I feed layer pellets free choice, but free range every day, and in winter they eat a lot more layer than in summer, when they eat almost none. GL!

-- Brad (, January 02, 2002.

After reading some of the posts expressing concern on you using rabbit water bottles, i went back & read your follow up post. You're right, traditional waterers can be messy, filled with litter; know exactly what you mean. Thought i would tell you what i've done to keep the water clean, just in case you decide to do away with the rabbit bottles.

I use a large plastic waterer with the red base & set it upon some bricks, then short pieces of wood. In short, i'm stacking wood & bricks to become a little platform (you'll have to experiment on how high your "platform" needs to be so litter is no longer thrown up in there). I then get an old glass telephone insulator & set it on top of the waterer so the chickens don't sit up there & poop in the water. Another idea is to tape a funnel on top. the idea is set something that comes to a point that makes it impossible for the birds to roost there. :-)

-- Buk Buk (, January 02, 2002.

I think people worry too much about FRESH water and constantly available. We keep an ice cream bucket of water on a raised stand so they can't scratch stuff into it. In winter it freezes after a couple hours inthe coop here in the mountains. I take a gallon milk jug of quite qarm water out each morning, turn the ice cream bucket upside down outside and pour a small trickle of hot water on the bottom: the ice instantly falls out, and I add the rest of the warm water. They all drink their fill of water while it is warm. I also keep a large dish of snow in the coop all the time(they seem to prefer it to the water!) Have done this for many years, no drop in egg production and healthy birds. Have you noticed in the summer that they usually prefer to drink from a yucky puddle rather than the clean water? I have. Have a neighbor who sells lots of eggs--He has an old pail under a heat lamp for his chickens. He never empties it-- just adds water . Looks black and I hate to think what it contains but the chickens don't seem to mind. Chickens are chickens-- sometimes we start to think of them and treat them as people!!! another point of view. Tomas in bc

-- Tomas (, January 02, 2002.

The reason to keep clean water available for laying hens is the salmonella danger, chickens that are exposed to salmonella can show no outward symptoms, yet pass it freely in their eggs. You are all familar with the lovely results, stomach upset, vomiting, cramping and diarrhea, also known as "The 24 hour flu", which does not really exist, it is salmonella poisoning!

Cruddy water is a good way to ensure that salmonella have a nice place to live too near your chickens.

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (, January 02, 2002.

i find that putting my water feeder up on a wooden hand made "pallet" keeps the waterer off the ground enough, does not get "ucky" and stays clean, and it wont freeze to the ground,

-- pat b (, January 02, 2002.

Don't feed them popcorn in the extreme hot summer time or you will end up with popcorn chicken! "Arh, arh, arh, arh, that one just kills me everytime".

-- r.h. in okla. (, January 02, 2002.

If you have fed them only commercial mash, you should first provide grit before introducing larger, harder morsels such as grains. Chickens store grit in their crop and use it to masticate their food. Commercial mash will contain a source of calcium such as ground limestone or oyster shell, but that is not usable as grit (which is silicon based: tiny bits of granite is best).

You can either purchase and supplement grit to your birds (free choice in a bowl) or let them get it natually as they free range in the springtime. My new flock is indoors and I've been giving them commcercial grit and play sand.

I'm having a bit of trouble locating an economical source of grit. The store bought stuff, especially when shipped, offends my sense of thrift (after all, I'm paying for essentially a bag of ground rocks). I'd give them a daily shovelfull of soil to pick over but the ground is frozen. Perhaps Don would be so kind as to send up some of that high-test Australian summer sunshine.


-- Mark in West Central Ohio (, January 02, 2002.

Mark, the feed store iny your area ought to have 50 pound bags of granite grit, it goes for 8 dollars a 50 pound bag, sometimes a Quality Farm and Fleet store will offer it in bulk to just get what you need just as cheaply. Granite grit lasts a VERY long time when you have a small farm flock of birds, like years. Put out only a small amount as needed.

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (, January 03, 2002.

RE: the waterer. I also put my waterer up on a block of wood so it is about five inches off the ground. When I fill the waterer, I always start by pouring water on the outside and the lip at the bottom and letting to clean it--then fill. Technically, my chickens could go a few days without my going out there to add water, but I like to clean the waterer every day.

RE grit: I read someone here say they dumped creek sand every so often into their chicken coop for grit.

Brad: It makes me cry to think that your chickens eat lobster leftovers when I have none here down south. (sigh)

RE leftovers: I give just about all leftovers but notice they really chase one another over meat. I also give them the milk and cheese and cottage cheese/cream cheese that has gone bad (really bad, because I cook with it somehow). That is really great because a) it's protein and b) the bacteria in the sour milk/cheese is good bacteria for their gut. I read that many people put vinegar in the water of all their animals because it helps the pH of the gut and bacteria etc... I believe that because the more yogurt I eat, the healthier my stomach is too! Just some thoughts.

-- Ann Markson (, January 03, 2002.

Ann, speaking of good things for their gut, have you ever given your chickens some plain yogurt? You would think i have a cupful of squirming worms when they see i've brought them yogurt; they all can't get a taste fast enough. Giddy pandemonium for sure! absolutly hilarious to watch them slirp it up!

-- Buk Buk (, January 03, 2002.

Ha! It's rare that yogurt goes THAT bad in this house. I'll eat it way past due date then will use in baking. So really the only time they get their treat is if it's fruit and yogurt together that's gone bad. And yes!! they just love it. Just like sour milk.

-- Ann Markson (, January 03, 2002.

You can feed chickens any grain to include unpopped popcorn and raw white rice in any quantity you want to feed them but there are some considerations.

The first is that unpopped popcorn is a mighty hard grain. To get the most energy from the grain (corn's greatest use) they ought to have a hard grit to grind it with. They can make do without it though if there's any sort of sand around because that's exactly what mine do. Don't ask me why but poultry grit in my area of North Florida just doesn't seem to exist at the feed and seed stores. Most of the store clerks look at me like I'm odd when I ask about it though I did find one that carries pigeon grit. Hard (like granite) grit can make things easier for your hens but it's not absolutely essential. I feed mine whole grains and have for years and have never fed them anything harder than oyster shell to grind it with. I prefer to have the corn cracked when I feed it but they eat whole kernel corn right along with the other grains.

Another consideration is what you're trying to get from your birds. If you've got to make your money perform as efficiently as possible then keep scratch grains for a treat and rely mostly on the layer feed. Egg production requires a lot of protein and grains aren't really good in that department. If the birds are extensively free-ranged and can scratch a lot of insects and the like then grains can occupy a larger place in your feed bill because it will be carbohydrates that will be the diet limiting factor in that case. Grains are rich in carbs. Unfortunately, even here in North Florida insects are kind of thin on the ground in January so if I want to keep egg production up I have to make sure they get a good layer feed.

Grains alone are not a complete feed and processed grains like white rice (polished rice) are even worse. White rice isn't directly dangerous to birds unless it begins to constitute a large enough portion of their diet to throw them into serious malnutrition. One of the most common grains in wild bird seed is millet and it will swell a good deal more than white rice will when soaked in water or boiled. Millet is also the favorite grain of my hens and they'll eat it before anything else.

It may be hard to come by at this time of year but the one thing I have found to improve my hens eggs is green feed like green grass, clover, many kinds of weeds, collards, kale, cabbage and so on. I give mine all they want and they scarf it right up. Layer feed is complete in and of itself but egg yolks just don't color up as well on it as well as they do on fresh green feed and I seem to get slightly more eggs when they've got access to it. If you keep giving your birds free choice to the layer feed then they'll probably not eat more than 5, maybe 10% of their diet in green feed which is where they should be.


-- Alan (, January 04, 2002.

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