Can chickens eat rutabaga, swedes and turnips?

2 of my flock pecking away at rutabaga or swedes

Rutabaga or swede is a root vegetable and a member of the Brassica family.

It is also called yellow or Swedish turnip, neep, snagger and turnip even though the name "turnip" usually refers to the related white turnip. Swedes or rutabaga originated as a hybrid between the cabbage and the turnip.

Can chickens eat rutabaga, swede and turnips?

Yes, all parts of the swede or rutabaga, including the greens are not only edible but good for your chickens. I have been using turnips for many years as a late crop specifically to provide greens and entertainment for my chickens in winter.

Turnip and swede (rutabaga) are two different things but are members of the same family of plants.

Turnips and swedes are very cold hardy vegetables and the tops or greens stand well into winter meaning you can use them as winter greens. I have a backyard garden and every year I grow a few rows of both turnips and rutabaga just to feed to my hens.

Below: My egg flock tucking into a rutabaga or swede.

Raw veggies are good for chickens and can also entertain and relieve boredom by giving them something to peck at.

Because of the length of time it takes chickens to eat root vegetables it is almost impossible to overfeed them.

Putting a chunk of rutabaga or swede in a show cage is a good way of keeping poultry amused while it is waiting to be judged in a show or sold at an auction.

My chickens just love turnips and turnips tops are a great healthy treat, although young chickens have an easier time with them if the turnips are grated or cooked and mashed.

I throw the whole turnips, top and all to them, and they completely devour them with in an hour or so.

Can chickens eat Rutabaga or swede skin, peelings, leaves and greens?


All parts of swedes, rutabaga and turnips are edible and you can feed the whole plant. If you are giving only peels to your chickens then it may be wise to boil them for a few minutes to soften them slightly as the skins are tough.

If they are root vegetables you have bought rather than grown yourself the rinse any wax off the outside with a little boiling water before feeding the peels to chickens.

You can also feed swede , rutabaga or turnip cooked as well provided it is not too salty or has too much added fat or sugar.

How to feed swede, rutabaga and turnips to chickens:


If you have bought then you should rinse the outside off with boiling water as some are waxed before sale.

Cut the swedes in half and put down for the hens or hang them in the run.

Let them peck away. Mine usually take about 2 hours to eat a large swede although they get through turnips more quickly.