? about toxic plants

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Knock Kneed Hen, Jun 30, 2010.

  1. Knock Kneed Hen

    Knock Kneed Hen California Dream'in Chickens

    Feb 15, 2010
    So. Cal.
    I see that there are a ton of plants considered toxic to chickens. I have many on my 4 acre property (foxtail stems mainly). I am wondering if left to free range if the chickens will not eat the toxic plants as long as there is plenty of other alternatives.

    When I was a kid we had a pony and her pen was lined by Oleander shrubs. We knew they were toxic to horses but the pony never touched them. I do know that an overgrazed pasture might force a horse to eat toxic plants that
    it would otherwise pass on. Wondering if its true for chickens. Will a chicken not eat a toxic plant as long as there is plenty of other good grazing material available? Thanks!!
  2. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    I would like to say you are right but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.

    Vets find nails and all sorts of things that chickens have eaten that have injured and killed them. There are 35 phytotoxins listed in Diseases of Poultry, 11th edition that have poisoned them. The Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System cite many, many known cases of plant poisonings of chickens and other poultry.

    Just from reading, it doesn't seem that they are like cattle and horses in that they may develop a taste for toxic plants like locoweed. But, I don't know about that either.

    I think that most toxic plants are of little interest to chickens if there are plenty of other choices of good food. However, I don't have a great deal of confidence in that.

  3. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    Chickens aren't the brightest cookies in the bunch sometimes, so I wouldn't say 100% that they wouldn't eat them. But in small quantity, would it hurt them.....probably not. I've seen people post here that their chickens ate their tomato plants and those are toxic.

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