Is it safe for chickens to eat blister beetles. Blister beetles have damaged my chard and I plan on feeding it to the chickens. Normally I feed the creepy crawlies from my garden to the chickens, but I'm wondering if that is a good idea with these things. I know blister beetles are dangerous to cows and horses. Does anyone have any experience with them and chickens?
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This is an exerpt from the link below. Everything I've read says horses are more susceptible than sheep or cattle, but they can still cause severe problems for sheep and cattle. Although this site does not mention chickens, I'll not purposely feed the beetles to the chickens. Why take a chance.
All species of blister beetles produce a toxic substance called cantharidin. This toxin is a well-known vesicant (blister-causing substance) that is quickly absorbed upon contact and causes inflammation and blistering of internal and external body tissues. The amount of toxin produced varies considerably between species. The ash-gray, black, striped, and margined blister beetles are a few of the more common species which produce levels of cantharidin capable of poisoning livestock. Livestock come in contact with blister beetles when they consume infested alfalfa hay. Horses are most susceptible to the toxin, while sheep and cattle are more tolerant. The reaction to the toxin depends upon the relative dose; enough ingested beetles can be lethal to any animal.
Before I knew what they were, I threw some into the coop and my chickens would not go near them. Apparently nature has pre-wired an aversion to them into chickens. When the chickens wouldn't eat them, I took them down to the pond.......fish will eat any kind of bug, right........not these, the fish wouldn't go for them either......I began to suspect something and started investigating what they were. Once I found out what they were, I certatinly kept them away from the chickens......and fish, for that matter. So I don't know if chickens CAN eat BBs, but I know that mine WON'T eat them.