Mangle Beet Harvest

Dateline: 3 November 2006

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Back in June of this year Dave Taylor down in Georgia sent me some mangle beet seed from Heirloom Acres Seeds. He told me the beets would grow huge and weight up to 15 pounds. The roots could then be fed to the chickens through the winter. I blogged about it and, after planting the seed, I provided a couple of mangle beet blog updates through the season.

Last week we pulled up the beets and the photo above shows some of the sizeable roots. I don’t think any of them made it to 15 pounds but they are big enough to impress me. I washed them off with a garden hose and let them air dry....

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I cut the top leaves off, packed the roots into wood-slat crates and put them in the basement. Potatoes keep well down there so I figure beets should too.

I also drilled a hole through one beet. strung some twine through and hung it against the wall in our henhouse. Now the chickens can have at it. Thus far, they haven’t shown much interest. But I figure that’s because they still have access to a lot of garden greenery. When snow covers the ground and they are cooped up for the winter, I suspect that hanging beet will look a whole lot more appealing.

Growing the beets was easy. The thinned greens were delicious. Next year I’ll grow mangle beets for the greens alone. But if my birds take to the roots, I’ll grow them again too.

And I think I’ll replant a couple of the biggest roots in the spring so I can get a harvest of seeds for planting the following season. We’ll make this sustainable.


Dave said...

Dear Herrick,
The beets look good. Mine did not grow to 15 pounds either but about as big as yours. Our chickens didn't eat them at first then after a bit they really love them. Be patient. I do think they are worth growing though for winter feed . Also, the garlic bulbs that you sent me are starting to poke through the soil. We are excited that they seem to be doing very well. Thank you again for those. If we lived closer to one another i would trade you for some homemade cider we just pressed for some more garlic bulbs! Have a great weekend. Dave in GA

Herrick Kimball said...

Hey Dave--

I'm curious to hear how the garlic grows and develops for you down in GA. The German stiffneck varieties are not usually grown as far south as you are. Thanks again for sharing those mangle beet seeds with me last spring.

Herrick Kimball said...


It is now spring 2007. The chickens took to the beets just fine through the winter. They are now all gone. I could have fed more if I had them. Instead of hanging the beets from a string, I just diced them up with a knife and mixed them with some grain. You'd have thought I was feeding the birds fresh worms the way the swarmed over the beets.

Anonymous said...

How much mangle did you grow per bird?

I'm looking to cut down my layer feed costs, as it's gone from $9 and change a couple of years ago to $14 a bag yesterday!!! And I thought the gas pump was the place where I'd be seeing the most sticker shock!

I just seeded a plot in mangles, and had some seed left over and was wondering if I should plant more or if a couple of mangles a week would be enough per 5 birds..
Thanks, I've enjoyed reading your blog.

Math Geek said...

Herrick, I really appreciate your blog. What do you think of feeding these beets to pigs and cattle to help with my feed costs? I enjoy raising animals to provide healthy meat for my family, friends, and neighbors, but feed costs are outstanding even when my father pithces in corn in exchange for meat!

Holly said...

Cool! I think I'll have to grow some & try with my hens next winter. Thanks! Holly

Anonymous said...

Last year I grew 250 feet of the mangles. My 50 chickens have just about used them all by simply throwing them on the floor of the coop. In our peat soil the largest beet was 18 lbs. I just ordered 1 oz of seeds from Nichols in Ore (1000-1500) seeds! At just 10 lbs each that is 10000 to 15000 lbs of feed potentially!


TheMrsVolfe said...

I am ordering mangle beet seeds from A local organic seed supplier here in Quebec..I would like to know more about how to grow seeds from old beets? I have a small flock of Plymouth rock hens and a rooster that I want to breed and raise more next year for layers and meat ( have my whizbang plucker plan order for already to mail out tomorrow) Can anyone tell me how to grow the seeds?

Herrick Kimball said...

Math Geek,
Mangle beets were once commonly grown for livestock.

I kept a few mangle beets over the winter and planted them in the spring, expecting that they would sprout and grow and put forth seed. But that did not happen. They didn't grow. I don't know why and I was quite disappointed with the whole thing.