Alfalfa poisonous for chickens

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by SevenVF, Feb 1, 2012.

  1. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 16, 2012
    I think alfalfa is only bad for a chicken if the chicken tries to swallow too much and chokes on the alfalfa. [​IMG]
  2. trailchick

    trailchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    It has been suggested on this site to give alfalfa to hens
    for the calcium.

    My flock will go to the alfalfa to get their green fix during the winter.
    They live still.....
  3. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    If chickens live in an environement where they are always around the hay and occasionally sample a little that's fine. If they are not and you are talking about just tossing a bit into their coop/run now and then they may eat to much of it and risk crop impaction. Timothy and other grass hays have longer stems and the chickens eat the whole thing so if they stuff themselves with it they may have a problem. Where as with alfalfa hay most of the stems are too course for them and they just pick out the leaves.
  4. trailchick

    trailchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Agreed, as cafarmgirl says.
    Alfalfa, as a hay, will most often be a bunch of flake that falls
    to the bottom & is the richest part, & the stem will be a
    separate & coarse piece.
    The birds will almost always eat on the powdery green or flakey
    parts, which is the most nutritious and more easily
    digested parts.

    my birds free range daily, so variety will generally
    reduce problems with what they consume.
  5. JerseyGiantfolk

    JerseyGiantfolk Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 12, 2012
    I feed my chickens small amounts of alfalfa, they dig it! And your right, if it was poisonous they'd be dead by now.
  6. Hamburg

    Hamburg Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 7, 2011
    If I remember my livestock nutrition class some 30 years ago certain plants including alfalfa concentrate alkaloids and can become poison just after a hard freeze at the end of the growing season. If your animals are pasturing exclusively on alfalfa at this time it can be a problem.

    Looked on the internet, I had to make sure my facts were straight. Alfalfa can be poisonous but not in the way I described. See the quote below.

    "Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is an important forage and silage crop in Canada. However, under some circumstances, alfalfa can cause a variety of different toxic problems. Ingesting rapidly growing alfalfa at the vegetative to mid-bud stage can cause bloat in cattle and sheep (Hall and Majak 1989). Alfalfa has also caused photosensitization in cattle with white skin (MacDonald 1954). Alfalfa contains phytoestrogens which cause infertility in animals, including cattle and sheep. These compounds are also contained in some alfalfa pills that are found in health food stores, and these may cause problems in some cases (Cheeke and Schull 1985). Alfalfa also contains saponins that can interfere with the growth of poultry and thus reduce egg-laying (Fuller and McClintock 1986, Oakenfull and Sidhu 1989). Low saponin cultivars have been developed."

    I guess the old saying that to much of a good thing can be bad, applies to alfalfa.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2012
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

  8. DebHinman

    DebHinman New Egg

    Jul 12, 2010
    Northern California
    I give my flock alfalfa all the time, at least two to three times a week along with their scratch and laying crumbles. Not only is the alfalfa a good forage substance for my girls since they are enclosed (we have too darn many coyotes to let them free-range) but it is also an excellent source of calcium. You should always make sure that any forage you give your flock isn't moldy or contain any pesticides. Other than that - alfalfa and other leafy and fine-stemmed hay is a welcome addition to their diet.
  9. Jobele

    Jobele Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2011
    It never ceases to amaze me what people will put out on the internet that JUST ISN'T TRUE! [​IMG]

    I soak alfalfa cubes in warm water and then feed it to my chickens during the winter months.

    They LOVE IT and it's good for them! [​IMG]
    1 person likes this.
  10. SevenVF

    SevenVF New Egg

    Jan 25, 2012
    Thanks for all the replies!

    I thought that was bogus. The list on that website is huge and lists tons for common flowers and plants that lats of people would have around their chickens.

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