Is Cracked Corn Good for Chickens?

Cracked corn has been a long time staple in the diet of chickens. It’s affordable and easily accessible but is cracked corn good for chickens? chickens do like it. but chickens need a well-balanced diet of proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamins. Cracked corn doesn’t provide all of the necessary nutrients chickens need to stay healthy.

Cracked corn is good for chickens when adequately balanced with other nutrients. It’s not meant to be the sole source of essential vitamins and minerals for chickens. Cracked corn is, and should be, part of a chicken’s everyday diet as a supplementary snack to other, more nutritious foods. 

Nutrition can affect the behavior of chickens, as well as the quality of the eggs your hens lay. If you’re interested in more on cracked corn in your chickens’ diets, stick around. For more on feeding your chickens cracked corn, keep reading. 

Should You Feed Chickens Cracked Corn?

Cracked corn is an excellent snack for your chickens and gives them something to nibble on throughout the day.  However, it’s not the only food that should be fed to your poultry. There are several factors to consider when feeding your chickens.

Free Range Chickens and Cracked Corn

Free-range chickens need their food to be a good energy source for all of the roaming they do. Cracked corn is high in carbs, but it has very little protein and does not contain all the necessary vitamins. If you have free-range chickens, you should only give them a little bit of crack corn as a treat. 

The chickens will be gaining many of their needs themselves from the soil, as well as bugs. Chickens will also eat plants, so making sure your chickens have access to lots of leafy green veggie plants is another way to ensure they’re getting various healthy foods, instead of just cracked corn.

Are your chickens struggling to put on weight? Learn how to give your chickens the best life in my article.

Cracked Corn Is A Affordable Option

Having a larger flock is harder to keep fed than just a few chickens. Cracked is an affordable chicken feed, and it’s easy to distribute. While cracked corn is okay for the chickens to eat, there are a few issues with giving it to a larger flock. 

Does one chicken hog most of the corn? Are some chickens less interested? 

The fun thing about chickens is that each of them has their own personality. However, if you have many chickens, it can take more time to learn what type of food they like. 

If a whole flock of chickens is not free-ranging, some chickens can get to all of the cracked corn and finish it off before the others even have a chance to get hungry. The pecking order comes into play when it comes to chickens eating and mealtimes, to understand why your chickens are fighting and how to stop it see my post.

Too much-cracked corn is not suitable for the chickens, so those eating more than their fair share can have adverse health effects. 

Why Happens If Chickens Eat Too Much Corn

  • Thin or nonexistent eggshells
  • Low-quality eggs
  • Laying fewer eggs
  • Feathers falling out
  • Chicken disease

Consider separating large groups when feeding them cracked corn, or use it as a treat instead of a major meal component. 

Are Your Chickens Primarily Used for Eggs?

Egg layers are going to need more protein than other chickens. A diet consisting exclusively of cracked corn will leave the chickens lacking in the protein department. 

Not only will the egg production go down, but chickens who are protein deficient will begin plucking at each other’s feathers.  Ensuring that your chickens are getting enough protein along with cracked corn will prevent any of this from happening before it becomes an issue.

The Best Way to Feed Cracked Corn to Chickens 

Cracked corn is such an inexpensive and convenient food source for chickens, as long as it’s done correctly. To avoid some of the issues we discussed, consider implementing some of these strategies when feeding cracked corn to your chickens. 

Do your chickens have an insulated coop? Learn how to keep a warm flock in my article.

Use Cracked Corn To Train Your Chickens

Chickens aren’t only useful for laying eggs, but they’re also fun as pets. Do you want to teach your chickens to speak or shake? You can also teach your chicken to come to you at the sound of your voice. This can be a useful method for rounding up your chickens after several ours of roaming free. 

For cracked corn to be an effective treat, you have to make the cracked corn a novelty. It has to be a new and exciting treat, not a regular part of mealtime. Hand it out to your chickens as a reward when they follow the commands you’ve given. For 20 ways to keep your chicken entertained check outmy post.

When you want to flock to race for the coop, yell a common phrase while shaking your bag of cracked corn. Reward the chickens’ stellar behavior with a nice scattering of cracked corn. Just remember to deliver the cracked corn within seconds of the behavior, or else the purpose of the treatment will be forgotten.

Using Cracked Corn as Scratch Feed 

Scratch feed makes chickens scratch the ground. So when you sprinkle the corn around the yard, the chickens will dig and scratch to get it. Scratch feed becomes an activity and a snack, all in one.

Also, scratch feeding serves a healthy purpose. Since chickens don’t have teeth, they swallow small pebbles called grit to digest their food. When they’re digging around for cracked corn, they’ll ingest some of the necessary digestive aids… a.k.a. rocks. 

Grit is even more important for chicks as they need it to digest their food, learn how to provide your chics grit in my article.

If your chickens are already keen on the idea of cracked corn being a special treat, they’ll be more inclined to get excited when they realize it’s right under their feet. Even though it’ll take a little work to get the cracked corn, they’ll still be motivated to do so. 

If your chickens don’t get much free-range time, then you’ll want to provide extra grit to them. Your local livestock and farm supply store should have this in stock or get these protein-packed natural grubs from Amazon. Some have suggested using crushed oyster shells, but others state that these are a bit soft to be proper grits. 

Crushed gravel can be used, and this is usually a natural resource that’s found in most dirt. If your chickens are in an area that doesn’t have a lot of dirt or grit, you may need to import some as ground cover, before you lay down the scratch feed.

If your chickens are in a coop and used to the same area, they can become bored. This can lead to not enough grit. Scratch feed can keep chickens entertained and encouraged to find the cracked corn, then eating the grit is just a bonus. 

Feeding Chickens Cracked Corn in the Winter to Keep them Warm 

Eating cracked corn helps chicken produce heat to stay warm. Some people find it helpful to give their chickens cracked corn in the cold weather for increased energy, therefore providing a little extra heat. 

Whether this will matter for you depends on your situation. If you have an enclosed coop and a well-built heating system, this will be a minor issue. However, if you’re chickens live a little more on the wild side, then you could consider incorporating a little more cracked corn into their diet. Again, moderation is key. 

To avoid your chickens becoming too cold in the winter see the best ways to insulate your chicken’s coop and keep a warm flock in my post.

Keeping your cracked corn storage area clean helps prevent unwanted pests from getting a free meal. It will also keep critters from catching on to the fact that there’s a food source nearby.

Final Thoughts

Cracked corn is good for chickens, as long as it’s used as a supplementary food and not the sole source of nutrition. Although, there is such a thing as too much-cracked corn. Making sure that chickens have access to other foods that provide more protein and other nutrients ensures that they stay healthy.

Can a chicken drink too much water? Learn all facts in my post.

Dane McManis

Dane started learning about farming while volunteering on a farm. Now he and his wife raise chickens, pigs, and ducks on their small farm with their two little girls.

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