A possible case of blackcurrants poisoning

Jul 30, 2021
I have two hens but unfortunately, one of them is now barely moving when touched and will likely die today.

I registered to this site only to report this case and give you all the details so that maybe one day someone will not make the same mistake as I made.

My hens are in a solarium protected from predators and I have full control of what they eat. They always have access to commercial feed, broken egg shells and water. Several times per day I bring them treats in moderation otherwise they stop eating enough commercial feed and start laying brittle eggs. The treats that I bring them:

1) Dandelion leaves, also alfalfa leaves but less often. They love these green leaves.
2) A few sunflower seeds. They love them and both eat them as fast as they can.
3) A few wheat heads. They love picking on the heads and extracting the grains one by one.
4) Very small and rare pieces of bread. They extremely love it and make distinct pleasure sounds when I bring them this treat.
5) And finally, a quite recent treat which I gave them only a few times these last days, maybe 20 blackcurrants shared between them. Each time they ate them as fast as they could.

A quote from the following site: “But you can avoid feeding your birds on berries such as the black currants, gooseberries, mountain-ash berries, and elderberries. These fruits contain poisonous substances that are harmful to chickens.” link.

One of my hens is dominant and faster than the other and she almost always eats more of the treats that I bring them. It happens to be the one that is sick and apparently about to die.

Two days ago, the first symptoms were that she was not moving a lot and ignoring treats. I moved her to a separate place with water and feed. When I took her in my hands to move her, she threw up and was inert. In her new place she just stayed sitting and drank the water and ignored the feed. She progressively became less and less active. This morning she is still breathing but her head is down on the floor, barely moving when touched.

The other hen is still kicking, no sign of illness so an infectious disease is not likely at this time. She is the slower one that eats less of the treats.

My blackcurrant bushes are currently full of fruits and wild birds are totally ignoring them, which is a hint that they may not be good for birds. Wild birds have a better instinct about what they should eat than domestic laying hens. Besides, my hens are of the brown breed used in commercial facilities, which likely have an even worse feeding instinct.

Given the whole context that I just gave you, blackcurrant poisoning is possible yet not certain.

Just stick to tried and true treats. Do not rely on your hens feeding instinct to test out some new treats.
Au revoir Poulette! She will come back as a tree transplanted on top of her grave.

Au revoir Poulette! She will come back as a tree transplanted on top of her grave.

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So sorry! I ripped out some huge tansy plants after reading about their toxicity..who knew such plants were so bad for chickens? I also had to give up on my brilliant idea of clematis for the run..guess I’ll fence of my elderberries..thanks for the warning! And..again, so sorry for your loss!

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