Beets, or beetroot as they are also known, are usually a beautifully colored and vibrant purple. A root vegetable that is very versatile and served in many dishes. Beets are also recognized for their nutrition, laden with essential vitamins and minerals that go a long way to serving the health of those who consume them. But can chickens eat them and are they safe for these birds? Can they equally benefit? I spent some time researching the suitability, as well as risks, of offering chickens beets. I will be sharing what I managed to find here today.
So, can chickens eat beets? Chickens can eat beets; both the greens and the stalks are safe and nutritious for chickens. Beets can be fed either raw or cooked, and chickens typically enjoy eating them either way. However, your flock must have a mainstay of pellets which provide them with all the nutrients they need to obtain in their diet. Beets are a healthy snack, but should only be offered in addition to their staple food.
Beetroot is an excellent source of iron, fiber, Vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and folate (Vitamin B9) along with many others which we will soon look at.
As you can imagine with this nutrition, this vegetable has undeniable health benefits for human beings who regularly consume it.
They are known to lower blood pressure, increase energy levels, and improve blood flow.
Thankfully the same benefits are available to chickens if they are included in their diet.
Beetroot is delicious raw, as well as cooked and/or pickled; and chickens seem to like them however they are served and prepared.
This includes being offered whole or even halved ahead of time.
Chickens are typically not fussy; they will happily peck away at the vegetable however it is offered for them.
So, let us now take a closer look at some of the most commonly asked questions related to beets when they are included in a chicken’s diet.
We will be covering if they are healthy if the tops and leaves can be consumed and other similar health-promoting vegetables you may want to also include.
So be sure to keep on reading to get all the information you need!
Are Beets Healthy For Chickens?
Beetroot is exceptionally healthy for chickens. Generally speaking, whatever boosts human health should enhance the health of poultry birds. With just a few exceptions. This is typically the way of things when it comes to the nutrition of your flock.
Beets and beet juice are packed with many nutrients like iron, Vitamin C, potassium, manganese, fiber, and folate (Vitamin B9).
Below, you can see just how much nutrition and the number of vitamins and minerals are available, even in a small serving size:
Nutrition In Beets
|Of which sugars||(5.5 g)|
|Vitamin C||4.02 mg|
|Vitamin A||1.64 µg|
As you can see, beets consist of mostly water. Around 87% in fact, which helps keep your flock hydrated.
Equally, they are generally low in calories, provide energy in the form of carbohydrate,s and are low in fat. All good qualities for your birds.
Let’s now discuss these nutrients and how they support the health of your flock:
- Iron – This essential mineral transports oxygen in red blood cells. It also supports a healthy weight.
- Calcium – Which is essential for the production of healthy eggs and shells.
- Vitamin C – This antioxidant is essential for skin health and immune function. Chickens are tough and can handle harsh temperatures, but a diet rich in Vitamin C can help the immune system fight colds and cases of flu. This vitamin is essential for strong bones and bright feathers -beetroot fulfills all these needs because of the high levels of vitamin C.
- Potassium – This supports a healthy heart; a diet rich in potassium helps to lower blood pressure. It goes a long way to regulate blood sugar levels; potassium regulates water balance, the body requires fluid control to be healthy. It’s necessary for muscular contraction, and it improves the mineral density of bones. Potassium has numerous other health benefits.
- Manganese – This is an essential trace element for the body; it contributes to numerous bodily functions such as the metabolism of cholesterol, carbs, glucose, and amino acids. It plays a crucial role in reducing inflammation, blood clotting, and bone formation. It also helps maintain a healthy weight.
- Dietary fiber – Beets provide 2 to 3 grams of fiber in a 100-gram cup. Fiber supports a healthy digestive system, and it helps reduce many diseases. Beet leaves are full of fiber and rich in antioxidants.
- Vitamin A – Beets are full of Vitamin A, which helps maintain good vision, healthy skin, and it’s also vital for cell differentiation.
Beets are an excellent addition to the diet. But, there is one thing to note. Less is always more.
Just because beets are healthy for chickens does not mean that you should over-provide them.
Many chicken keepers report that this food, due in part due to the purple pigments in the vegetable along with the high water content, can lead to digestive upset in these birds.
If they are served in too high a quantity, or too often, you can expect a lot of mess. Teal-colored or hot pink poop is sometimes observed by keepers who have let their chickens gorge on beets.
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Can Chickens Eat Beet Tops And Leaves?
Chickens can indeed eat tops, leaves, and even stems. Most of us would only eat the root and discard the tops and leaves, but the leaves and tops are as nutritious as the root.
So instead of throwing those pieces away, offer them to your flock. In fact, one of the benefits and sometimes reasons for keeping chickens is to reduce food waste. Make the most of it!
Plus there are actual benefits to doing this…
Beet tops and leaves are very healthy and are a rich source of Vitamin K, iron, calcium, manganese, and copper, and they contain no fat or cholesterol.
The greens are high in fiber and full of antioxidants, as much as the tuberous root of the plant.
Not only can chickens eat the tops and leaves, but humans also can too, and they can be a tasty addition to many of the recipes we like.
How To Feed Chickens Beets?
Chickens can eat beets either raw or cooked, and this includes the leaves and stalks.
Chickens enjoy eating beets if they are sliced in half, but you can offer the root grated or chopped.
One of the cheapest kinds of livestock feed is beet pup – it’s typically shredded or in pellet form. Beet pulp can make your feed budget stretch as long as it’s not your chicken’s primary source of nutrition.
If you add beet pulp to water, it swells. You can prepare the pulp before feeding it to your flock at least 30 minutes in advance.
Combine one part of water for every pellet or shred allow the mixture to sit for a while until the water is absorbed.
Break it apart with a fork and serve it in feeding bowls, by all means, mix in other vegetable scraps. Make sure that you only make as much as your flock will eat to prevent fermentation.
Be careful not to substitute corn with beet pulp for laying hens, as it has been proven to decrease egg production.
Beet pulp won’t harm laying hens, but it doesn’t provide sufficient energy for ideal egg output.
Beet pulp can lower the cost of feed when mixing it in with your flock’s usual ration, especially during the winter when egg production is lower as well as other energy expenditures.
Beet pulp mixed with molasses and pelleted pulp tends to be preferred by chickens, and they do offer more energy.
Other Vegetables Healthy For Chickens
Many vegetables are safe and healthy to feed to your flock. Other and similarly related root vegetables to beets are also great -especially in the fall season when they are due for harvest.
Growing vegetables underground is ideal because they are the one crop that many wild animals cannot eat.
They are also protected from insect damage, and for this reason, are not commonly sprayed by farmers with insecticides or herbicides as a means to protect them.
If you plant seeds in spring, you can anticipate the emerging of a beautiful vegetable in late summer. this schedule tends to work well.
You can store many root vegetables, and they make ideal treats during the fall and winter. Or of course, you can purchase them in season and cost-effectively throughout the year from your local stores or even at farmers markets.
Let’s look at five excellent root vegetables to feed to your flock (and then the ones you will want to avoid:
The tops and greens are delicious and packed with essential vitamins and minerals that your flock will enjoy.
Chickens can eat carrots raw or cooked; however, raw carrots should be grated or chopped. The beta-carotene enhances the color of the egg yolks.
Parsnips can be eaten raw or cooked; however, raw parsnips should be grated or chopped to make them easier for your chickens to consume.
Sweet potatoes are not a member of the nightshade family, like the white potatoes, as many think, it’s a member of the morning glory family.
The toxin solanine is present in potatoes but thankfully not in sweet potatoes, so it’s perfectly safe for your flock to eat, along with the leaves.
Sweet potatoes are laden with vitamins and minerals that help keep your birds healthy.
Yes, chickens can indeed eat garlic; even though it is a member of the allium family. It contains just 1/15th of the toxins contained in onions.
Garlic has antibiotic properties, and it also helps to boost the immune system.
Chickens not only enjoy the vegetable but the leaves too.
Once again, radishes are easier to consume once grated or chopped first.
Root Vegetables To Avoid
Onions, along with other root vegetables in the allium family, contain a toxin that can kill red blood cells if offered in excess. Onions, while safe in small quantities, for the most part, should not be offered.
Overeating this toxin can cause anemia or jaundice in your flock.
Onions don’t include the same health benefits as garlic, so there are few positives gained by feeding onions to your chickens.
Red or White Potatoes
Potatoes are in the nightshade family, and the vines and leaves are harmful to chickens.
Also, the skins can contain high amounts of solanine, which is a toxin. The greener the color of the potatoes, the higher the toxin levels.
If you do feed potatoes to your chickens, make sure that it’s only in small quantities.
Beetroot is a delicious treat for your chickens, and every part is safe to eat; this includes the stems and the leaves.
Most people are unaware of the nutrition contained in the greens, but if they benefit the health of your chickens, they will benefit your health too.
In the greens are many minerals and vitamins that boost the immune system and have antioxidant and antibiotic properties.
If you grow beets with other root vegetables in the spring, you can expect beautiful, wholesome vegetables unaffected by things above ground.
Make sure that beets and other vegetables are not the mainstay of your flock’s diet. While they are no doubt nutritious; providing many beneficial vitamins and minerals; they do not cover all of a chicken’s needs and requirements.
The mainstay of your flock’s diet should be a complete pellet feed; which when properly formulated are balanced and nutritionally complete.
Make sure that you keep a note of the root vegetables, and other dangerous fruits and plants, you need to avoid feeding your flock.
Garlic is perfectly safe and highly nutritious to feed to chickens, but the rest of the allium family, such as onions and scallions, should be avoided.
The only downside to feeding beets is the potential mess, not to mention the hot pink poop which can cause worry.
But, so long as they are provided in moderation this should not be an issue.
Instead, you will enjoy watching your chickens relish every bit of the vegetable, and that makes it all worth it in the case you were to see it again at the other end!
Wondering what else chickens can eat? Check out my other chicken feeding guides below!
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.