can i feed chickens just corn?

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by Adrescher7, Jan 10, 2012.

  1. Adrescher7

    Adrescher7 Well-Known Member

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    Self explanatory title. I can get corn much cheaper then i can get chicken feed. What are your thoughts on feeding just corn? or mix the corn in with the feed to make it last longer or what? Thanks for all input
     
  2. oregon woodsmok

    oregon woodsmok Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sure. As long as you aren't hoping to get any eggs or much growth.
     

  3. Blue Blazes

    Blue Blazes New Member

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    I feed a layer pellet in the morning and cracked corn two times throughout the day. Basically a 50/50 mix. My birds are all healthy, lay very well etc.

    Corn isnt that high in protien, but most backyard birds arent production bred or managed to meet production standards and can manage quite well without the high dollar feeds. I do not ever recall feeding anything besides scraps and corn to our birds growing up....do not recall ever having health issues or loosing birds.
     
  4. chickenista

    chickenista Original recipe! Supporter

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    It is the protein that is going to be lacking with feeding just corn.
    They need a minimum of 16% protein to lay well.
    Corn is usually around 9%.

    If you use a 16% laying pellet but water it down with 9% only corn you are not going to be reaching that 16% that gives good eggs.

    Now... if you could provide a steady amount of high protein food to counter that.. like a pound or two of earthworms etc.. then you could feed more corn..
    but they would still need access to greens etc.. from either free ranging or you picking a 5 gallon bucket of weeds for them.
    They need the nutrients in the greens.
     
  5. Adrescher7

    Adrescher7 Well-Known Member

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    So, if i mix corn with greens that would pretty much be an all natural diet for free(for me at least) correct? if i am right with this assumption, what kind of greens would be best?
     
  6. Caprice Acres

    Caprice Acres AKA "mygoat" Staff Member Supporter

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    Even more important than the crude protein level of corn, is the fact that corn is woefully unbalenced in amino acids, particularly lysine. Unbalenced essential amino acids = NO PROTEIN can be made. Sure, birds will be able to recycle some spent body protein but not enough to meet requirements (hence the term, ESSENTIAL amino acids). If they're allowed to free range they will be able to get some of their AA's from bugs and what they find, but likely not all.

    Corn is essentially sugar, and not good for anything else really. It's a great PART of a diet, but is not a complete diet by any means. It's also short in a LOT (and I mean a lot) of vitamins and minerals. My chickens also do not enjoy 'greens' as much as I would hope except for the stuff they find on their own. When we feed 'greens' say as table scraps, they tend to ignore them. Just because you offer it does not mean it is eaten - and the diet that is eaten is the one you must evaluate, not the one offered. :)

    I would NOT breed chickens on a greens/corn diet. I would not raise (as in from chick-age) on a corn/greens diet. I would not expect 'good' growth, production, or feed efficiency on a corn/greens diet.
     
  7. Adrescher7

    Adrescher7 Well-Known Member

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    well I guess i have to rephrase my whole question, Is there anything i can grow or make find myself to feed my chickens? rather then buying the stuff they sell at stores, I prefer to know where my food comes from, and saving money is great too
     
  8. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member

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    Look at the ingredients on a sack of feed: can you grow those things?

    Chickens eat a diet that is very similar to ours. When the kids were little I gave the chickens the half eaten peanut butter sandwiches and half-eaten apples with their bought feed, and the eggs were very cheap and the birds were very healthy! That did not last, though. Teenagers waste very little food!
     
  9. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Stinging nettles, black oil sunflowers, small beans or peas, alfalfa or clover, amaranth, oats, milo, Indian corn, lots of stuff you can grow.
     
  10. FarmboyBill

    FarmboyBill Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Checking in my 1938 Morrison and Morrison book, Feeds and Feeding, for fattening boilers or other poultry, , MASH of 45lbs ground corn. 22.5 lbs wheat, ground, and 22.5ground oats. 10lbs skimmilk

    That being said. 95% of the time, we fed shelled corn only to our chickens. Once mom had 1000, but usually it ran from 2 doz to 50, and all we fed was shelled corn
     
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  11. chickenista

    chickenista Original recipe! Supporter

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    http://www.lionsgrip.com/chickens.html

    Here.
    Make sure to read all the topics covered including ways to produce more of what you feed to your birds.. worms, mealworms etc..
    as well as feed recipes etc..
    It is a very informative site that gives the reasons why your birds need certain things in their diets.
    I hope this helps. It can be done!
     
  12. birdman1

    birdman1 Well-Known Member

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    IF your birds are on pasture or free range in the barn yard corn can be the staple and they suplement thier diet with bugs weeds and worms.If your pushing them for max production or have them confined they need some comercial feed to do well or I'v heard of lots of home made feed mixes depending on what is available and sprouting the grain helps don't forget they need gravel for thier craw if confined to grind the corn
     
  13. akane

    akane Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Nothing except the most specialized of animals that you will rarely hear about and never see can survive on one food item alone. Most need a huge variety and an omnivore like a chicken is designed for some of the greatest variety of all animals. Think of feeding a human on one single food item and how fast that would cause problems. That's what you've got with a chicken. Think of feeding a human on 2 food types and ignoring the rest of the food pyramid (didn't they make that a plate recently?) and it's the same with a chicken. Variety is important for long term health and best production.

    Corn is horribly unbalanced and I prefer to keep it out of any animal's diet completely but it's hard to find chicken feed without corn. Any grain is a better choice with oats being one of the highest fat and there are several that meet or beat the protein in corn. Black oil sunflower seed well surpasses the kcals in corn requiring much less even though it costs more. On top of that they need the amino acids found in animal protein not just plant. Omnivore remember. Even humans can't survive as vegetarians without fortified foods or vitamin/mineral supplements and we have less issues with the amino acid limitations of just plant protein than animals like chickens. Sure you can keep them alive and you might get some eggs for awhile but without variety you aren't going to have a long productive experience with your animals.
     
  14. mommagoose_99

    mommagoose_99 Well-Known Member

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    NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!!!! Corn is not healthy for your chickens . They are omnivores they need variety in their diet. If you want eggs you need to feed a well balanced diet found in laying mash .If you feed less than 16% protein you will not get any eggs. If you feed all corn , which by the way is all contaminated with GMO Monsanto pollen your hens will be sickly and non productive. Why not feed your family all candy corn and see how thye look in a month.
    LInda
     
  15. PurpleToad

    PurpleToad Well-Known Member

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    Starting in early Dec, I started free feeding my birds, a mixture of 2/3 cracked corn and 1/3 whole oats. Then I also put out a couple scoops of a layer pellet. My birds have been free ranged since they where out of the brooder. Since I have started doing this, my egg production has gone up, and cost of feed down. Come spring when I get bugs and things growing, I will probably go back to feeding just the bare minimum and make them forage. Some of the increased production could be just the fact that my birds are older, but the production did go up during the shortest days of the year.
     
  16. unregistered168043

    unregistered168043 Guest

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    I've been on this question for over a year, ever since I got my birds. I've asked everyone from old farm folks, to online gurus, read books, talked to feed salesman, you name it!

    Here's what I come up with;

    Corn is OK during the spring, summer and early fall months when/if chickens have access to free foraging outdoors where they gobble up bugs, grass,and seeds all day long. The protein level is a bit too low for proper growth/health/laying during winter. Also there isn't enough calcium. Old timers have told me that all they ever fed was corn and a few scraps and their chickens have always done fine. Many feel that all these new concepts about chicken dietary needs are designed to get gullible newbies to buy expensive feed.

    I have fed only corn in summer and fall ( I grew most of it myself ) but now that winter has prevented their natural forage, I augment with commercial feed ( about 50% with 50% still corn ). I get lots of good large eggs and my birds are very healthy and robust. When they were growing I fed them commercial growing mash and allowed them to forage at 7 weeks.

    Come spring, when the bugs and grass come back, they're off the feed and back on corn and forage. I will be making an even greater effort to grow as much of their corn as I can. I'm not running a commercial egg operation, so I have no need to maximize egg production to an extreme degree. I use no artificial lighting, I free forage my chickens every day all day, and I grow as much of their feed as possible. At the end of the day I still have alot of eggs, and good healthy birds.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
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  17. Caprice Acres

    Caprice Acres AKA "mygoat" Staff Member Supporter

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    I actually do the opposite - I don't force my hens through the winter (no supplemental light/heat) so we feed half whole corn and half our custom grain mix. The birds need a bit higher energy anyways to maintain homeostasis below their thermoneutral zone anyways. Come spring, we cut out the corn and go back to just the custom mix.

    We would NOT do this if we expected them to produce thorugh the winter though. We collect 1x per day and most winters that means most eggs are frozen anyways so forcing them to lay would be a waste of time (and I'm NOT going to heat a coop, thank you very much, haha. :))
     
  18. mekasmom

    mekasmom Well-Known Member Supporter

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    That's me! I always fed table scraps and corn. I would also save egg shells, scrunch them up and feed them to the hens. You just have to make them scrunched up so they don't recognize what they are.
    I honestly think most of the animal dietary guidelines for most animals are simply made to sell feed.
     
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  19. pancho

    pancho Well-Known Member

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    Corn is great for keeping birds warm in the winter. Free ranging birds will eat more corn in the winter as it keeps them warmer than the softer feed. During summer they will naturally slow down on the corn.
    It isn't a complete diet but can be fed to free ranging birds.
     
  20. PurpleToad

    PurpleToad Well-Known Member

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    Since I started adding corn and oats to my birds diet, I will say that I also picked up a 50# bag of oyster shells to ensure they get enough calcium for the shells. Also I have started saving the shells from the eggs we eat to feed back to them. I also considered adding a poultry mineral block and for the most part cutting out the layer pellets completely. Haven't gone that route yet. Anyone else use the mineral blocks for their birds? How long does something like that last?