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Cracked Corn For Chickens – Why and How?

When asking yourself how to take care of chickens, one thing you need to learn about is cracked corn for chickens.

If you have chickens, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of cracked corn. You may even be wondering what is cracked corn and why would your chickens need to eat it? Today we’re going to discuss cracked corn for chickens – why they need it and how to feed it.

What makes cracked corn different than regular commercial feed? Is buying something like this worth the cost or can I just use their regular food? Cracked corn does not contain enough nutrients to provide your birds with a balanced diet.

You won’t want to replace a chicken’s regular chicken feed with this type of chicken scratch. However, in certain circumstances, cracked whole corn for chickens can be extremely beneficial.

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chickens eating a pile of cracked corn for chickens

What Is Cracked Corn For Chickens?

Cracked corn is oftentimes referred to as scratch, scratch grains, scratch feed, or chicken scratch. It is a type of feed used for chickens that contain larger, harder corn kernels. These kernels are sometimes broken into smaller pieces so that the chickens can eat them without much difficulty.

Sometimes store-bought birdseed will contain a small amount of corn in addition to other seeds (such as sunflower seeds).

The point of giving cracked corn to chickens is usually to provide the chickens with something that keeps them busy.

However, sometimes adding corn to your chickens’ feed will provide them with other benefits as well. The specific benefits you will be looking for will be determined by where you live, how you keep your chickens, and the time of year it is.

Is It Okay To Feed Chickens Cracked Corn?

Yes. In fact, certain situations will arise that will make it very necessary to feed your chickens a supply of scratch or cracked whole corn

Some examples of these situations include, solving boredom, pecking issues, and providing your chickens extra warmth and energy during a cold snap.

Raise ducks? Ever wondered can ducks eat cracked corn? Well yes, they can too!

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When Should You Feed Your Chickens Cracked Whole Corn?

Cracked whole corn does not contain enough nutrients to replace a chicken’s regular feed. If you make homemade chicken feed, you might consider adding cracked corn to the mixture, or you might just supplement their store bought chicken feed with a little extra scratch.

There are certain circumstances when it is a good idea to feed cracked corn to your chickens. These circumstances include:

  • Entertainment – Scratch or cracked corn makes a great activity for bored birds. Feed your chickens a little bit of corn when you need them to stop participating in other troublesome behaviors such as pecking, egg-eating, or pestering your garden. This entertainment value also works for you, the chicken owner. It is a ton of fun to watch chickens go crazy for a little bit of scratch!
  • Warmth – if you live in a particularly cold weather area, cracked corn is a great way to provide your chickens with a little extra warmth that doesn’t require electricity. Whole corn contains a lot of carbohydrates. The energy required to burn and digest these carbohydrates warms up your chickens’ little bodies and helps them stay comfortable in an otherwise chilly situation.

    For this reason, those who live in a particularly warmer climate should avoid feeding their chickens cracked corn.
  • Boredom – Chickens are naturally curious. They love to investigate things that they find laying around or in the ground near them. Birds living in a chicken coop with an enclosed run will most likely not have as much access to soil, but you can sprinkle some cracked corn inside their run for them to discover.

While cracked corn may not be ideal for all chicken owners, there are many situations where adding corn to your chickens’ run or coop can reap a lot of benefits.

How To Feed Cracked Corn To Chickens

The best way to feed your chickens cracked corn is by giving it to them as a treat. That means not feeding your chickens chicken scratch every day, rather, only when you want to keep them occupied or give them something fun and tasty to eat.

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You can easily give your backyard chickens some scratch or cracked whole corn by tossing a few handfuls into their run or coop. Or if you have free-range chickens, just go ahead and throw some in their area. 

Try to spread it out rather than dumping it in a pile. Feeding corn in this way will encourage chickens to use their natural scratching abilities to find all the scrumptious pieces without sacrificing digestibility.

Some chicken owners make their own homemade chicken feed and prefer to add a little bit of corn to their homemade feed. This is acceptable, so long as you keep the ratios proper so the chickens are still getting the other nutrients they need.

If you live in a cold climate, you can also mix cracked corn into their regular feed to help provide them with extra warmth and energy. You can even feed crushed corn for chickens if you want to mix it into their feed, soak it, or keep them super entertained with a crushed corn scratch fest!

Read also – Tips and Tricks to Fermenting Chicken Feed

Note – you can feed cracked whole corn or scratch to other backyard birds such as turkeys, quail, guinea fowl, and so on. Just follow the same guidelines as outlined in this article. 

zoomed in picture of cracked corn for chicknes

Where To Buy Cracked Corn Or Chicken Scratch

Cracked corn is easy to come by! Your local feed store is likely to have plenty of options, especially during the fall and winter months. Or you can order a bag of cracked corn from Amazon if you don’t want to head down to the feed store yourself.

Can I Make My Own Cracked Corn?

Would you rather make your own cracked corn? Great! Making cracked corn for your backyard chickens is surprisingly easy to do – especially if you already grow your own corn.

All you need to do to make homemade cracked corn are some dry, whole corn kernels (removed from the corn cob) and a heavy object with which to crush them.

On that note, cracked corn vs whole corn? No real difference beyond size! Leave whole, crack, or smoosh to a fine powder corn dust! It will all work as corn animal feed. This is a delicious and affordable way to offer your birds a crude protein, both as part of their complete feed or as a supplemental feed.

You can buy dry corn kernels from your local feed store, or you can gather them from your local cornfield. If you don’t have a cornfield of your own, you might consider asking a local farmer if you can come collect the old corn kernels after they’re done harvesting their corn stalks.

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Now all you need to do is crack your corn! There are several ways in which to do this.

You could put your corn kernels in a bowl and crack or crush them with a heavy rock or stone.

You could put your corns between two pieces of wax paper and apply pressure with a rolling pin or something similar. You could also whack your corn kernels with a wooden mallet.

Even a hammer or a can of food could help you crack your corn kernels. Just be careful not to shatter them into little pieces or damage the surface you are working on.

Once you’ve cracked all of your kernels, throw them in a bag or bucket and seal it shut. Store your corn in a place where rodents, critters, and other pests won’t be able to get to it. 

And there you have it – now that you know how to feed chickens cracked corn and why it can be a good thing to do, you’re one step closer to making the best chicken food plan for your flock! Your chickens will thank you!

Do you have other ways to crack corn? Or reasons cracked corn is good for chickens?

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Charlene has been dabbling in and learning about the homesteading lifestyle for almost 20 years. She recently started a real-world homestead with her extended family and is excited to share 20+ years of knowledge and experience with the world!

While she certainly doesn't know everything about homesteading and is learning more every day, she is excited to learn and grow along with YOU!

Charlene blogs about about homesteading at

Share the wisdom!


Wednesday 2nd of August 2023

I learned something. I know nothing about chickens, so thanks for the info!

Appreciate you sharing this at the Homestead Blog shop 454, and congrats on being featured!


Cara ~ Vintage Style Gal

Sunday 30th of July 2023

A friend of mine has chickens and she tells some interesting stories about them. I will have to share this with her. I am not sure if she gives them cracked corn to keep them busy, but I am betting it may help her. She has one hen that will not let her gather eggs and seems to lock down the rest of the hens.