It turns out that most root vegetables are safe and healthy for chickens to eat, but not all of them are, and it pays to be certain before feeding anything, even an all-natural veggie, to your chickens. How about radishes? Can chickens eat radishes?
Yes, chickens can eat radishes. Every part of a radish is safe for them to consume, including the flesh, stem, seeds, and leaves. They are highly nutritious, hydrating and an all-around excellent addition to the diet of your chickens, having plenty of folate and B complex vitamins.
These crunchy, peppery cruciform root vegetables might draw strong opinions from people, but most chickens seem to enjoy them, particularly when they are cooked to soften them up a little bit.
However you might feel about them, we will tell you everything you need to know and the rest of this article.
Nutritional Profile of Radishes
Radishes are a nutritious, wholesome, and low-calorie option for supplementing the diet of your chickens.
Radishes contain only a few carbohydrates, almost no fat, and very little protein, but what they do have is an abundance of water. Specifically, they are 95% water by weight.
|Total lipid (fat)||0.1 g|
|Sugars, total including NLEA||1.86 g|
|Calcium, Ca||25 mg|
|Iron, Fe||0.34 mg|
|Magnesium, Mg||10 mg|
|Phosphorus, P||20 mg|
|Potassium, K||233 mg|
|Sodium, Na||39 mg|
|Zinc, Zn||0.28 mg|
|Copper, Cu||0.05 mg|
|Selenium, Se||0.6 µg|
|Vitamin C||14.8 mg|
|Vitamin B-6||0.071 mg|
|Folate, total||25 µg|
|Folate, food||25 µg|
|Folate, DFE||25 µg|
|Choline, total||6.5 mg|
|Carotene, beta||4 µg|
|Lutein + zeaxanthin||10 µg|
|Vitamin K||1.3 µg|
|Fatty acids, total saturated||0.032 g|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated||0.017 g|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||0.048 g|
Radish is also contained several essential vitamins and minerals, though they are not considered to be a nutritional powerhouse.
Radishes contain a good amount of vitamin C, significant folate, and most of the B complex vitamins.
Concerning minerals, they have a fairly good amount of zinc, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, iron, and calcium.
Health Benefits of Radishes for Chickens
Radishes might not be the most nutritious vegetable out there, but they are nothing that you or your chickens should reject out of hand.
Perhaps most importantly, radishes are a supplemental food item that can help chickens stay hydrated on hot, dry days.
Other than this, the B vitamins and natural antioxidants present in radishes will help your chickens maintain their energy levels and stay disease-free.
A little shot of most of the major minerals that chickens need never hurts, and radishes will help improve the health of your chicken’s bones, connective tissue, cardiovascular system, and organs.
Can Chickens Eat Radishes Raw?
Yes, chickens may eat radishes raw, although the peppery, bracing flavor and density of the flesh might turn off smaller or weaker birds. However, there is nothing in any part of a raw radish that will harm a chicken.
Can Chickens Eat Radish Leaves?
Yes, the tough, leafy top of a radish is completely safe for chickens to eat and also contains an assortment of vitamins and minerals.
Once again, this seems to be a love it or leave it option for the average chicken, but you can definitely toss it out there to them and see if they’ll gobble it up.
Can Chickens Eat Radish Seeds?
They sure can. Radish seeds are healthy and nutritious, and most chickens will eat them assuming they like the flesh of the radish itself.
As always, keep an eye on smaller birds and make sure they don’t have any difficulties swallowing the seeds.
Can Chickens Eat Radish Stems?
The stems, like all other parts of the radish, are completely safe for chickens to eat. If your chickens want to eat the stem, you can let them.
Can Chickens Eat Radishes Cooked?
Yes, chickens may eat cooked radishes and this is probably the best way to prepare them for your chickens.
Cooking softens the tougher flesh of the radish and also reduces the intensity of that peppery, mustard-like flavor that might turn off your birds.
Never Feed Radishes to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
But since we are talking about cooking, you must make certain that you never give your chickens any radishes prepared with harmful ingredients that they shouldn’t eat.
Though eating nothing but a cooked radish sounds fairly horrible to most people, you should not attempt to improve the flavor for your chickens.
Things like salt, sugar, butter, oil, and other seasonings and ingredients will prove harmful to the health of your chickens either in the short or the long term.
Your chickens might only be facing weight gain, diarrhea, and an upset stomach or they could be facing a potentially lethal condition like sodium poisoning or fatty liver syndrome.
You’re not doing your chickens any favor by serving them any of the above ingredients, so don’t cook your radishes with anything else if you’re going to serve them to your birds.
Beware of Pesticide on Grocery-bought Radishes
One thing you should keep in mind if purchasing radishes from the grocery store with the purpose of giving them to your flock is the presence of pesticides.
Sadly, pretty much every single piece of produce it is destined for consumer purchase and consumption is heavily treated with pesticides at all stages of growth.
Though our produce, including our radishes, are supposed to be thoroughly washed before they make their way to us some residues often remain.
These pesticide residues are bad for people but can prove to be terrible for your chickens, so you must thoroughly wash any radishes that you buy from the store prior to serving them to the flock.
How Often Can Chickens Have Radishes?
Radishes are healthy, wholesome, and low calorie but nonetheless chickens should not eat them all the time.
Radishes fall firmly into the supplemental part of a chicken’s diet, and they should along with other produce make up only about 10% of a chicken’s total calorie intake.
Most of their calories should come from their chicken feed which is nutritionally complete for any given stage of life that they are in.
Caution: Eating Too Many Radishes Might Affect the Taste of Chicken Eggs
One thing to keep in mind if you plan on serving radishes to laying hens is that regular consumption of radishes might begin to negatively affect the taste of the eggs they lay.
This is because the volatile compounds that radishes contain, the same ones that produce that bracing, mustard-like taste, can be passed on, or their byproducts passed on, to the eggs that hens lay.
Now, this might be a problem for you or it might not but it is something to be aware of before you start tossing radishes out to your flock.
Preparing Radishes for Your Flock
You have several options for preparing radishes for your chickens. If cooking, roasting, or boiling them prior to chunking or mashing is one good option that will make them easy for your chickens to eat.
However, if you are serving them raw try cutting them up into small, bite-sized pieces that your chickens can swallow whole
Can Baby Chicks Have Radishes, Too?
Yes, chicks can have radishes starting at about 3 weeks of age. Radishes are pretty easy for chickens to digest, but chicks have particularly sensitive constitutions and need a little time to grow even before they eat “easy” veggies like radishes.
Your best bet for serving radishes to chicks is to cook them until they are soft enough that they can take tiny bites from them without the risk of choking or working too hard to eat them.
Remember, just like adult chickens chicks should be subsisting primarily on early life or starter chicken feed with supplemental foods, even wholesome ones like vegetables, given only rarely as a tiny fraction of their diet.
Make Sure You Clean Up After Serving Radishes to Your Flock
One more thing to keep in mind. You should clean up all of the leftover radishes, greens and bits after serving them to your flock.
Fresh produce, fruit and veggie alike, begin to rot and spoil quickly after it’s been left out.
When this happens it is bound to attract pests, or worse, your chickens might come back around to Peck at a moldy, rotting piece of radish and can get sick if they eat it.
Moving and cleaning up after your birds once they are done with the radishes.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.