Turnips are another versatile and popular root vegetable that is enjoyed all around the world, either as an ingredient or as a side dish in its own right.
Chickens may eat many vegetables, including many root vegetables, but can they eat turnips?
Yes, chickens may eat turnips and turnip greens. Turnips are a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin B5, potassium and phosphorus. Raw turnips might be too difficult for chickens to eat, and gentle cooking can help make them more palatable.
Whether you like the bracing taste of turnips or think they are just a bit too bland for everyday use, your chickens can get quite a bit of nutrition from them.
However, you’ll have to know how to best prepare them if you want the best results for your flock.
This article will tell you everything you need to know.
Nutritional Profile of Turnips
Turnips are tasty and versatile, but also highly nutritious. Turnips contain an extraordinary amount of vitamin K, huge amounts of vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin C, and folate.
It also contain a fair amount of B complex vitamins and vitamin E.
Concerning minerals, they don’t quite have the standout lineup that they do with vitamins but there is still much to celebrate, including ample amounts of calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Also worth mentioning is that turnips do have a fair bit of sodium, so keep that in mind if your chickens are already getting sodium elsewhere in their diet.
Turnips also contain mostly water by weight, hovering around 93% by mass on average.
Health Benefits of Turnips for Chickens
Turnips are a healthy supplemental menu item for your chickens.
The massive amount of vitamin K together with calcium is essential for metabolic processes that shore up bone density and bone health.
The rest of the vitamins including most of the B vitamins play important roles when it comes to managing metabolism and also promoting liver health by eliminating free radicals.
Can Chickens Eat Turnips Raw?
Yes, chickens may eat turnips raw, though all but the most determined or strongest birds will probably struggle with them.
Turnips are dense and tough when uncooked, and though the ideal way to serve any vegetable for maximizing health benefits is raw, turnips might benefit from some gentle cooking.
Can Chickens Eat Turnip Greens?
Yes, chickens may eat turnip greens, and are highly likely to.
Though turnip greens are a love it or leave it prospect for people, chickens rarely have such qualms about them and they are highly nutritious like the root.
Can Chickens Eat Turnips Cooked?
Yes they can, and this is probably the best way to serve turnips to chickens if you want to ensure that they have an easy time eating.
If chickens have to struggle too much to ingest raw turnips, they are likely to just forget about them and move on.
Never Feed Turnips to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
On the subject of cooking turnips, make sure you never serve turnips to your chickens if they have been prepared with any harmful ingredients that they shouldn’t eat.
Things like salt, sugar, butter, oils, and so forth should never be part of a chicken’s diet.
If you are lucky, ingesting those ingredients is only going to lead to diarrhea, high blood pressure, and weight gain, but there is a possibility that they could cause far more serious conditions like salt poisoning, sour crop or fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome.
You might love your turnips prepared with some salt, pepper, and butter but you’ll want to keep those all for yourself.
Beware of Pesticide on Grocery-bought Turnips
If you are purchasing turnips from the grocery store in order to feed them to your chickens, you’ll want to take pains to thoroughly wash them, including the greens.
Sadly, most commercial produce is heavily treated with pesticides and other chemicals for a long time before it ever makes it to grocery store bins.
These pesticides can be bad for people but worse for chickens and have a tendency to build up in their tissues over time with repeated feedings.
Make sure you thoroughly wash or soak turnips to further remove any traces of these pesticides, and try to purchase organic turnips for the purpose when you can.
How Often Can Chickens Have Turnips?
Turnips are a healthy and nutritious option for your chickens, but that doesn’t mean they should be eating them every day.
Generally, you can serve turnips once or twice a week as part of a well-rounded diet.
About 10% of a chicken’s total calorie intake should be made up of supplemental, wholesome foods and treats, and turnips should be part of that 10%.
You might serve turnips by themselves or prepare them with a variety of other vegetables in order to give your chickens interesting meal options while also rounding out their nutrition.
Preparing Turnips for Your Flock
As I mentioned above turnips are pretty hard for chickens to ingest when they are raw, and they will benefit from some gentle cooking to soften them slightly prior to serving.
However, the longer and hotter you cook a turnip the more nutrients it will lose in the form of vitamins and minerals.
Boiling or roasting is probably your best bets, and once that is done you should consider roughly mashing them or even grating them if you want to make them easy for your flock to eat.
Divvy up the mashed or grated turnips into bowls or trays and then set them around your chicken run or enclosure so every bird has a chance to get some.
Can Baby Chicks Have Turnips, Too?
Yes, chicks can have turnips but there is basically no way that they’ll be able to eat them raw.
Furthermore, you should wait until your chicks are about 6 weeks old before introducing turnips to their diet as a rare treat.
Like adult chickens, chicks should be subsisting primarily on chicken feed, and in particular an early life starter feed that is just for them.
You’ll need to cook the turnips well, let them cool and preferably mash them so that chicks can take tiny bites easily.
Make sure to keep an eye on the chicks after feeding them turnips for the first time to make sure it doesn’t disagree with them.
Diarrhea is always a possibility when introducing any novel food.
Make Sure to Clean Up After Serving Turnips to Your Chickens
Turnips might seem a pretty bland and plain as far as vegetables go, and they are, but you should still clean up after your chickens are done with them.
Any leftover greens or bits of flesh lying around will quickly begin to rot, and if your chickens come back around to steal a bite later this now spoiled turnip could make them very sick.
Also keep in mind that other animals in the area, particularly rodents, raccoons, and possums, will be attracted to this fresh food that is left out, and any of them can spell major trouble for your flock.
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.