Even though they can’t dig them up on their own a lot of the time, most root vegetables are good eating for chickens, but there are some exceptions.
No matter what sort of produce you are planning on giving to your chickens, it’s always best to double-check and make sure it is safe for them to consume.
Chickens can eat most things, but there are a couple of surprises you don’t want to find out about! Let’s look at radishes…Can chickens eat radishes and are they safe?
Yes, radishes are safe for chickens to eat. Notably, every part of the plant is safe and nutritious for chickens, including the stem and leaves.
Radishes are only a reasonably popular salad veggie for human consumption, at least in the united states, but they are a staple elsewhere in the world, and they are increasingly popular thanks to a resurgence in at-home gardening.
Radishes are very easy to grow, and if you want to grow organic produce supplement your birds’ diet, you can do a lot worse than radishes.
I’ll tell you everything you need to know below…
What Benefits Do Radishes Have for Chickens?
Radishes have some genuine health benefits for chickens, and one of the most important being their antioxidants that can help boost immune system response and protect chickens from various diseases, along with neutralizing free radicals that can cause cellular damage.
The other vitamins and minerals present in radishes can do everything from enhancing circulatory health and the production of red blood cells to improving bone growth and the overall health of connective tissue.
Something else to keep in mind is that radishes are also surprisingly hydrating for chickens, and combined with the vitamins can help them beat heat stress on warm days and keep their electrolytes in balance.
Radishes are not among the most nutritious garden vegetables, but they are still good for chickens and you shouldn’t skip on them if you have them, especially if you want to give your chickens some variety in their diet.
Radish Nutritional Info
Radishes are definitely good for chickens, but compared to many other vegetables and green vegetables in particular they tend to be a little sparse on vitamins and minerals, and have relatively little in the way of carbohydrates, and next to no fat or protein.
But looking at the vitamins we see a decent assortment, including several of the B complex vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and B6 plus a good shot of folate which is always important in a chicken’s diet.
Sadly, the very best vitamin that radishes have to offer, vitamin C, is not as crucial for chicken’s dietary needs as it is for people because chickens make their own vitamin C.
Moving on to the minerals, and we see mostly equal amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.
For people, they are adequately healthy but somewhat lackluster, but in these amounts, they still offer a good shot of nutrition for chickens.
Are Radishes Safe for Chickens Raw?
Yes, raw radishes are totally safe for chickens but they are quite dense, or at least many cultivars are dense, and this can make it challenging for some chickens to eat them.
Are Radish Stems Safe for Chickens?
Yes, radish stems are safe for chickens and don’t contain anything that will hurt them. Chickens that may or may not eat the stems, but if they do you can surely let them.
Are Radish Leaves Safe for Chickens?
Yes, they can! Radish leaves, or greens are tougher than they look, and that is likely to turn off some chickens, but for birds that do show an interest in them you should absolutely serve these leaves to them. They are nutritious like the root of the plant.
Can You Cook Radishes to Give Them to Chickens?
Yes, you can cook and serve radishes if you want to and this is overall the best way to feed them to your flock.
Unfortunately, cooking will reduce the vitamins and minerals present in the radish, and they don’t have an awful lot to start with.
However, softening this otherwise tough root veggie will make it much more appealing to your flock. It won’t do any good if they don’t eat it!
Are Radishes Still Safe for Baby Chicks?
Yes, radishes are safe for chicks, but you have to wait until they get a little older before you feed them for the first time. Once they’re about 4 weeks old, it is okay to let them try very tiny portions of cooked radish…
A couple of things you should keep in mind…
First and foremost, chicks have very sensitive stomachs and overall are truly delicate little things. As such, there’s a good case to be made for letting them subsist entirely on their starter feed for the first weeks of their life.
Second, radishes are quite hard, very hard for chicks to eat, and this will necessitate that you cook them in order to soften them.
Cooking will also make them soft in addition to moist, and soft, moist foods pose a significant choking risk for baby chicks, so keep an eye on them.
How Frequently Can Radishes be Fed to Chickens?
Radishes are a decent healthy supplement to the diet of your chickens, but they must not ever be a majority component.
They aren’t nutritionally complete, and because they are a high moisture food, this has a tendency to cause crop problems or diarrhea for chickens that eat too many of them.
Generally speaking, fully 90% of a chicken’s calories should come from their feed, with the remainder being made up of wholesome, healthy foods – of which radishes are only a small part!
If you feed your chickens a couple of small servings of radishes once or perhaps twice a week, that is more than enough.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Radishes to Your Flock?
As mentioned above, cooking radishes is likely the most effective way to serve them to your chickens even though this depletes the already somewhat meager nutrients…
Boiling or roasting is an effective way to soften up the radishes, and you should only cook them enough to make them easier for your chickens to eat.
Depending on the habits of your birds, you can slice up the radishes, cube them, or even mash them and mix them in with other foods to make an interesting meal for them.
Try to Only Feed Radishes to Chickens if They’re Pesticide-Free
If you’re going to serve radishes to your chickens, do your best to only give them ones that you know are pesticide-free. Often, this means growing them yourself or getting them from a trusted neighbor or local grower.
All commercial crops, including radishes, are heavily treated with pesticides until they reach the point of sale at the grocery, and even if you wash them or peel them these pesticide residues will remain.
Although trace amounts might not be obviously and immediately harmful, they can build up in the tissues of your chickens over time, and eventually cause devastating health problems.
You can reduce and potentially eliminate this risk with commercial radishes by purchasing organic and certified pesticide-free varieties.
Radishes are Safe, But Only Safe By Themselves: No People Food!
However much you enjoy radishes, in a salad with dressing or as a casserole with ground beef and all the seasonings and spices, you shouldn’t share these dishes with your chickens. Chickens can eat radishes safely, and they enjoy them, but only when they are plain.
If you serve chickens any “people foods” that have milk, butter, oil, salt, seasonings, and any other sorts of ingredients like that in them it can cause significant and potentially even fatal health problems.
For instance, salt poisoning is exactly what it sounds like, an extreme intake of salt that can easily kill a chicken.
Don’t risk it, and only give your chickens plain radishes whether they are cooked or raw.
Tim is a farm boy with vast experience on homesteads, and with survival and prepping. He lives a self-reliant lifestyle along with his aging mother in a quiet and very conservative little town in Ohio. He teaches folks about security, prepping and self-sufficiency not just through his witty writing, but also in person.