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Do chickens eat radish greens? May 26, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in chickens, gardening, wit and wisdom.
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An alert reader just came on our blog, Poor Richard’s Almanac, with this query. The answer is yes.

Our friend Ben and Silence Dogood were out yesterday visiting Mennonite farm stands and Jim Weaver’s Meadow View Farm out in Bowers, PA with our black German Shepherd puppy Shiloh, and Silence found a long white radish at one farm stand that she just couldn’t resist. (Not that we don’t already have French Breakfast, Easter Egg, and Cherry Red radishes in the fridge, but for the devout radish lover, the lure of an unknown radish is admittedly hard to ignore.)

After walking Shiloh in the Bowers community park, where she had a quite comical encounter with another mostly-black puppy (both had a splotch of white on their chests) the size of a hotdog—thank God, Shiloh was quiet and gentle with him—we meandered back to our cottage home, Hawk’s Haven. At which point, Silence removed the massive growth of prickly, muddy radish foliage prior to washing the white radishes (4-6″ long and, it turns out, quite good) and storing them with our radish stash in the fridge. Trying to have as little contact with the radish foliage as possible, Silence gingerly handed it over to our friend Ben to take out to our chickens.

Which I did, and of course they loved it. Our friend Ben rejoiced that the chickens were enjoying such a rich source of nutrients, sort of a free bonus for our $1 bunch of radishes. And as always, it feels good to know that our kitchen scraps are making healthy chickens and incredible eggs. 

So, dear reader, by all means give your radish greens to your chickens. And any other greens, for that matter. The only greens we don’t give our chickens are onion, garlic, chives and other allium (onion family) greens, which might give the eggs an off-flavor. Otherwise, all bets are on! Your chickens will thank you.


1. Curmudgeon - May 26, 2009

I recently found a recipe for pesto made from radish leaves. We’ve got plenty of nice young tender radish leaves right now. Hey are there any new pics of bat puppy????

Tender young radish leaves are also great in salads, as opposed to spiky old radish leaves (ouch!!!). And yes, the little fruit bat has a new set of photos, only one of which managed to show up in its entirety when e-mailed but it is a classic. Thanks for reminding me to get a move on in terms of new pics—she’s bigger every day! Meanwhile, I’ll see if I can’t send you the latest and greatest.

2. jgh - May 27, 2009

I hope to have chickens one day, Ben and am looking at coops and runs for them now for next year! But one thing I never considered was which vegetables they’d eat and how to protect them. If I let them out to range around for short periods, do I have to worry about them foraging in the vegetable beds and uprooting things? Or are they too weak/dumb for that activity and have to be be fed by us? I havested my first radish yesterday — it looked like a jellybean. Maybe I jumped the gun.

Good for you, Jen! But no, chickens are anything but dumb (unless they’re super-specialized and/or factory farmed). I’d never let a chicken out among my vegetables; doubtless it would forage for treats just like you would. In fact, if you’d ever seen what a few chickens can do to a piece of lawn, you’d never let them out anywhere you didn’t want bare ground! As for your jellybean radish, urk. Maybe you could replant it and check again in a couple of weeks?!

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