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How to feed mangels to chickens

Harvesting mangelsWriting about mangels as chicken feed seems to be a popular sport.  I wish I could find more reports on whether the birds actually eat these huge fodder beets.

My experience with feeding tough, raw vegetables to chickens is a bit spotty.  If I cut a winter squash in half and make sure it lands flesh side up, the chickens do peck away at it, and they eventually seem to find thickly sliced sweet potatoes as well.  I've yet to see them eat carrots I toss in the coop, though.

Chicken pecked squashOne option for making root crops more enticing would be to cut up mangels, potatoes, and other homegrown fodder vegetables, then toss them in a pot of water on top of the wood stove when I damp it down for the night.  Possibly they would cook (rather than burn), and I'm positive our chickens would eat any of these foods when softened by heat.

Another recommendation I read involves grating mangels before feeding them to chickens.  Maybe if you have some kind of grain mill or large food processor, that technique would work, but I know for a fact I wouldn't manage to feed many mangels if I grated them by hand.  (I'm not so sure I'd even get around to cooking them.)

Mounting root vegetables on a board may help chickens eat them raw and whole.A third option I ran across consists of mounting a spike on the side of the chicken coop and impaling tough vegetables on it.  The sweet potato (or mangel) is held off the ground, so it catches the flock's eye and doesn't roll away as they peck at it.  This method sounds right up my alley, so I'm experimenting now with a sweet potato.  I'll let you know whether the tasty root goes down my chickens' gullets in a timely manner.

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Did your chickens eat the raw sweet potato you put up for them? Any more updates on feeding root veggies? I've got a few mangels in my garden I'm going to go give to my birds today.

Comment by j mid-morning Monday, August 1st, 2016
Unfortunately, our chickens weren't fans of the raw roots. I've since seen that Harvey Ussery uses a solar oven to cook roots for his chickens...but that starts feeling like a lot of work. I'll be curious to hear if you have better results than we did!
Comment by anna late Tuesday evening, August 2nd, 2016

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