Once upon a time, I worked at a movie theater and we used to save all of our popcorn at the end of the night in huge 30 gallon trash bags. A friend, who ran a farm and non-profit horse rescue, would come by, pick it up, and use it as a supplementary feed for some of their animals. That got me to asking him, can chickens eat popcorn? I didn't know back then.
Keep on reading if you want to find out whether or not chickens can enjoy popcorn or not!
Can Chickens Eat Popcorn?
Obviously, yes, chickens can eat popcorn. Many chicken feeds are corn based so it's safe to assume your chickens can safely eat the popped version of corn, as well. However, unlike my friend, you should probably skip the movie theater popcorn and go for something a little healthier.
Is popcorn safe for chickens to eat?
In general, yes, popcorn is safe for chickens, both hens and roosters, to eat. The particular reason movie theater popcorn, and many store bought popcorns, can be bad for your chickens is because they are, at a minimum, cooked in oil. To add on to that, many have added salt, butter, sugar, and other additive, natural and artificial, that chickens just should not eat.
Baby chickens are a different story. Chicks should not be given popcorn. Popcorn has so few helpful nutrients that it just isn't worth feeding to them. It's also difficult for them to digest properly.
So, while it is not a top choice to feed to keep your chickens healthy, it is fine as occasional treat.
Need some help keeping your chickens health and care taken care of? Check out the Organized Chicken Keeper for an easy to follow system.
Can chickens eat popcorn with salt?
No, chickens cannot eat popcorn with salt. The amount of sodium in salted popcorn can cause an imbalance in the chicken's dietary health.
So, what does salt do to chickens? Not much, just excess salt can lead to thyroid issues, kidney disease, weak legs and muscles, dehydration, excess thirst, and can possibly be fatal (we left out the convulsions and leaking fluids).
So, maybe we just don't give our chickens extra salt. They get what they need on their own.
Can chickens eat buttered popcorn?
No, similar to salt, butter can throw off a chickens balance of nutrients. Butter is high in fat and, as a dairy product, is not digestible by chickens. Too much can lead to digestive issues, diarhea, and potentially dehydration.
Can chickens eat popcorn kernals?
Chickens can absolutely eat popcorn kernals. They may have a rough time since popcorn seeds are much harder than the dried corn they may be used to.
Can chickens eat sweet or flavored popcorn?
There are a ton of different types of popcorn sold in bags like chips, microwaveable bags, decorative Christmas tins, etc. Wouldn't you chickens love to try a cheese flavor like white cheddar? Or maybe a sweet popcorn like caramel or kettle corn?
NO! Don't do it! Many of those additional flavorings can be harmful to your chickens; especially sugar. Chickens can actually form a sort of addiction if they have too much sugar which can cause them to stop eating enough of their proper feed.
It's best to keep sweets and things with unnatural, or artificial, flavoring in them away from chickens.
Can chickens eat microwave popcorn?
Microwave popcorn follows the same rules as any other type of popcorn we have discussed today. Make sure it does not have extra oil, salt, butter, or other additives. If it's just plain popcorn kernals, they should be fine. However, if you want to make sure they are getting the healthiest popcorn you can feed them, you can try making it yourself.
Is popcorn a healthy snack at all?
Popcorn is less a healthy snack and more not an unhealthy one, if that makes sense. It's mostly just a bunch of empty calories. Now, to be fair, popcorn has zero cholesterol and does have good nutrients, some in high amounts, like:
- Carbohydrates: give chickens energy
- Vitamin B6: healthy blood vessels, eye/vision health, nervous system , immune system
- Vitamin C: joint, cellular, and immune health; collagen synthesis
- Calcium: bones and egg shell strength
- Fiber: only small amounts or they can become constipated, get a blockage, etc; enery, growth, and digestive health, reduce cholesterol, controls blood sugar, digestive health
- Folate (B Vitamin): folate deficiency; helps blood formation; healthy feathers & size
- Vitamin K: blood clotting, bone metabolism
- Magnesium: bone strength and development, cellular metabolism, heart health, muscle function
- Manganese: bone development, immune system, breaks down carbs, cholesterol, and amino acids; controls blood sugar
- Potassium: temperature control; hydration & electrolyte regulation, metabolism; heart health/heart disease preventative
- Protein: muscle growth and development
The table below, courtesy of the USDA FoodData Center, is the nutritional value of 1 cup (28.35 g) of air-popped popcorn.
|Carbohydrate, by difference||10.3||g|
|Fiber, total dietary||1.87||g|
|Sugars, total including NLEA||4.66||g|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||8.14||mg|
|Vitamin A, IU||2.2||IU|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone)||0.44||µg|
How to make "healthy" popcorn
If you want to avoid all of the additives that come with store bought popcorn, the best route is to get an airpopper, a container of popcorn kernals, and make it yourself. Plus, it's cheaper in the long run.
As you can see, chickens can eat popcorn. It is best to give them plain popcorn without salt, butter or other additives. And, it is also best to make sure that they don't eat too much popcorn as it is just mostly empty calories.
Bottom line, be safe, and be conscious of what and how much you feed to your chickens.
If you need more help with taking care of your chickens, check out The Organized Chicken Keeper for a complete system for managing their health through keeping their supplies stocked and coop clean.