Fresh Corn for Hens

It’s snowing. Again. Despite shoveling, the hens’ outdoor space has been reduced to a modest rectangle, enclosed by four-foot walls of white. Less space and dreary days can instigate pecking and feather picking amongst the girls. I’ve been proactive, trying to stave off the cabin fever that leads to bad habits.

Chickens are hard-wired to move about and forage all day. Don’t be tempted, during the cold of winter, to give them a big bowl of warm treats in the morning. They’ll gorge and then stand around. Instead, give them something interesting to do that will keep them busy for hours.

Every day, the students in Ms. Sibilia’s classroom in Florida, watch my animals. They’ve been vicariously enjoying the snow, (and asking excellent questions about the science of weather – these are model students who think!) The class decided that the critters needed a special winter treat. With great generosity, they pooled their resources and sent me a check to “help feed the animals.” With their gift in hand, I went right out to the market. I was thinking of buying a pumpkin, or maybe a big bunch of kale, but what I found was a truly special food for the hens. I only buy locally raised corn on the cob, and this time of year even imported corn is usually unavailable, but I guess that down in Georgia, someone still had a store of fresh ears. I bought four.

I have

 in the coops that I use to provide treats to the Girls. The Big Barn has enough room to have one hanging from a chain. It takes effort to peck at the corn. A challenge is mentally and physically good for all animals.

hens and corn


I don’t recommend feeding quantities of hard, dried scratch corn to your flock. It’s too high in carbohydrates, without useful protein and minerals. But, fresh corn is another story. It’s more water than concentrated calories, and the suet feeder prevents guzzling it down too quickly. The corn distracted and engaged the hens all day. If you don’t have fresh corn cobs, the packaged frozen ears will do (I’d defrost before putting them out.)



The goats ate the husks – one of their very favorite treats.

goat eating corn


Pip says All done. Thank you, Ms. Sibilia’s class!

all done


  1. Now, is that ‘fresh’ corn, as in corn that hasn’t dried on the husk? Also, do you know if it is field corn or sweet corn?

    • I can tell that you are from the South – fresh field corn is not sold up here – it’s considered strictly animal feed. What I found was sweet corn from Georgia. No idea how long it was in cold storage, but with new hybrids, it stays oddly sweet for ages.

      • You are correct! I’m from south Mississippi and we have been eating fresh field corn for many generations. It is best cut off the cob with a portion of sugar added to it with a little bacon grease. Looking at the pictures you provided, it ‘did’ look like sweet corn, which we can still get at our grocery stores, but I wanted to be sure.

        • My husband is from the south, and I’ve had simmered field corn when visiting family. Delicious. Bacon grease makes it better, of course!

          • My grandfather was from Poplar Bluff Missouri (in that part of the state they consider it the south) and one of his favorite dishes was “shaved” field corn just like you described but he liked to add a can of cream corn to it. Good!

            Terry bacon grease make everything better. ;-)

  2. Thankyou, will thaw some to give girls to try. With Pip and Caper nothing goes to waste, see Phoebe’s is enjoying snow as usual. Hope spring is not to far away, think positive thoughts, lol.

  3. love the idea of the suet holder for the corn, unfortunatly mine is buried under 2 feet of snow, ill pick up another one today

  4. *sigh* The only way I’ll eat corn is fresh. I ‘intensely dislike’ canned and frozen. Oh, how I wish for summer! But that danged rodent saw his shadow, so 6 more weeks of winter. (Actually, he’s only right about 39% of the time and random chance is 33%. :D ) I envy your ladies their treats! AND – how are you getting corn and we aren’t? You’re farther north than us! Harumph! :D

  5. Terry our main problem is rain, it can last for days or weeks a time. One way I ‘ve found of keeping girls happy is we constructed a second large covered area and last autumn I bagged up lots of dried leaves and when we have a bout of rain I empty a bag in a heap and sprinkle a handful of poultry tonic seed on top keeps them occupied for hours and leaves don’t get wet..Happy girls happy me.

    • Sorry forgot to ask do you ever suffer from red mite or do the very cold winters see them off??

    • Brilliant solution. Yes, we have mites over here. I’ve never had the problem in my coop, but it does exist even in cold climes.

  6. What a great group of students, and a very special teacher! Oh about the corn…..big bowl, fresh tomatoes and Kentucky Wonder beans…of course cooked with bacon…..and a big hunk of cornbread!

  7. I have some fresh/frozen corn I need to get rid of. Might as well use them to train the chickens to follow. I already have them come running when I call out “Hey, Chickens!”. They know I have a treat for ’em when I call.

    • One of my and, my grand daughter’s, Hen Cam videos if the one of Terry calling in her chickens from free ranging! :)

  8. One of my favorite hencam videos too, Is Terry calling girls an watching them come running makes me laugh out loud.