Can Chickens Eat Beet Tops

Can Chickens Eat Beet Tops?



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Well howdy folks, I’m Tanner Barnsley and I grew up on a small family farm in Kentucky raising chickens and growing our own vegetables.

Let me tell you a funny story about the time I tried giving our chickens some beet tops from the garden.

When I was 12 years old, I was out picking beets for my momma to cook up for dinner one sunny summer afternoon.

I trimmed off all the green leafy beet tops and wasn’t sure what to do with them, so I decided to toss them into the chicken coop as a special treat for our hens.

Those crazy chickens went nuts over the beet tops, fiercely pecking and scratching at them like kids in a candy store.

Within minutes, the coop looked like a beet juice massacre scene from a horror movie, with bright pink and red beet stains splattered all over the walls, roosts, and floor.

There were even a few chickens that were completely dyed pink from rubbing against the wet beet tops while devouring them.

My momma wasn’t too pleased when she saw the messy coop later that day.

So in summary, chickens definitely love eating beet tops, though it can get a little messy if you’re not careful!

Nutrition in Beet Tops

Can Chickens Eat Beet Tops

Beet tops are very nutritious for chickens, loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

The greens contain high levels of vitamin A for healthy eyes and egg production, vitamin C for immunity, and vitamin K for blood clotting.

Beet tops also provide minerals like potassium for nerve function, magnesium for enzyme production, and iron for oxygen circulation.

In fact, beet tops have more iron than the beet root itself – 6.7 mg per cup chopped!

That iron is important for chickens to produce healthy red blood cells and avoid anemia.

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The nutrients in beet tops support chickens’ immune systems and egg production by providing necessary vitamins and minerals.

Are Beet Tops Safe for Chickens?

Can Chickens Eat Beet Tops

Yes, beet tops are totally safe and healthy for chickens to eat.

Both the green leaves and the red stems of beet tops are edible for chickens.

One thing to note is that beet tops, like spinach, contain oxalic acid, which can bind to calcium in a chicken’s diet.

As long as you feed beet tops in moderation as part of a balanced diet, the oxalic acid won’t cause problems.

Avoid feeding chickens large amounts of beet tops every single day.

But offering beet tops as an occasional treat or supplemental feed is perfectly safe.

Ways to Feed Beet Tops to Chickens

Can Chickens Eat Beet Tops

Here are some tips for feeding beet tops to your flock:

Chop beet tops into smaller, bite-sized pieces so chickens can eat them more easily.

Mix the chopped beet tops directly into chickens’ regular feed to add beneficial nutrition.

You can also offer chopped beet tops in a separate dish free choice as a supplemental treat.

Hang whole beet tops or bundles in the coop for chickens to nibble on and play with.

Add some chopped beet tops to a homemade treat mix or scratch grains for extra excitement.

Compost excess beet tops you don’t feed and then feed the beet-enriched compost to chickens for added gut health from probiotics.

Watch for Messy Feedings

The only potential downside of feeding beet tops is that chickens can make a big sticky, stained mess while excitedly gobbling them up.

Chickens’ feet and beaks will become stained bright red as they stomp through piles of beet tops.

Try feeding chickens beet tops outside of the coop in the run when possible to contain the mess.

You can also limit portions to just a handful per chicken to reduce wasted greens and staining.

Spreading out beet tops in a long trough rather than a piled heap can help control the chaos too.

Despite the mess, the nutritional benefits of beet tops make them a great supplement for chickens!

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I hope these tips help you use beet tops to give your flock a nutritious superfood boost!

Let me know if you have any other questions about feeding chickens garden extras.

Chickens Go Crazy for the Sweet Taste

Chickens go absolutely bonkers for beet tops because of their slightly sweet, earthy taste.

Beet tops contain sugars like glucose, fructose, and sucrose that chickens find delicious.

The sweet flavor makes beet tops an enticing treat that chickens just can’t resist.

Once chickens get a taste, they scratch and peck excitedly to get as much of those sweet greens as they can.

It’s funny to watch normally mild-mannered chickens turn into ravenous beet-crazed dinosaurs!

You can use small amounts of beet tops to persuade reluctant chickens to try new feeds or approach their coop.

The sweet taste and bright colors also stimulate chickens’ appetites, getting them eagerly awaiting mealtime.

But don’t let chickens fill up on too many sugary beet tops or they may refuse their regular feed.

Beet Tops Provide Variety in Diet

Rotating various fresh treats like beet tops provides healthy dietary variety for chickens.

Chickens can easily get bored of eating the same dry feed day after day.

Adding beet tops or other garden greens mixes up texture and flavors.

Diverse foods also introduce more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants into chickens’ diets.

The variation keeps chickens’ digestive systems healthy and gives them nutritional balance.

Rotating treats like beet tops, swiss chard, kale, and other veggie scraps prevents chickens from developing food sensitivities too.

Make sure not to switch up chickens’ diet too drastically though, as sudden large changes can upset their digestion.

Gradually transition beet tops as a supplementary feed for best results.

How to Store Leftover Beet Tops

Don’t let leftover beet tops go to waste – here are some storage tips:

Chop and freeze excess beet tops in freezer bags for up to 6 months.

Blanch greens first for a minute in boiling water if freezing large batches.

Dehydrate excess beet tops in a food dehydrator or low oven until crispy.

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Crumble the dried beet chips over feed or store in an airtight container.

Refrigerate fresh chopped beet tops in a produce bag for up to 5 days.

Pickle beet tops as a fun treat by packing in brine for 3 weeks in jars.

Juice extra beet tops and freeze concentrated juice in ice cube trays.

Mix a thawed beet top juice cube into feed or water for added nutrients.

Watch for Evidence of Health Issues

Monitor chickens closely after feeding beet tops to watch for any potential health issues.

Allergic reactions are rare but look for signs like facial swelling or diarrhea.

Stop feeding beet tops immediately if you notice any concerns.

Too much oxalic acid can potentially cause calcium deficiency long-term.

Check for weak bones, tremors, or slow growth as possible signs.

Bright red beet-stained egg yolks can indicate a harmless pigment change.

But reddish streaking in egg whites may signal disease like infectious bronchitis.

Contact a vet if eggs look abnormal after feeding beet tops.

Growing Beets Just for Chickens

Consider planting extra beets in your garden solely to use the tops for chickens.

Beets are easy to grow from seed in prepared garden beds or containers.

Plant beet seeds 1/2 inch deep, 2 inches apart in rows at least 12 inches apart.

Thin seedlings when they sprout to 4 inches between plants.

Harvest beets when roots size up after 50-70 days, trimming off the nutritious tops.

Beets prefer cooler weather and tolerate frost.

Plant crops in early spring and fall for best growth.

Popular beet varieties like Bull’s Blood, Detroit Dark Red, and Golden produce abundant leafy tops.

Let some beets bloom and go to seed, then collect seeds for future plantings.

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