Are bluebell leaves toxic to hens?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Kay Kew, Feb 20, 2017.

  1. Kay Kew

    Kay Kew Just Hatched

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    Hello everyone
    As I mentioned in a separate thread, one of my Light Sussex bantam hens died yesterday and I am now wondering if she may have been poisoned by eating bluebell leaves (Hyacinthoides sp.). If anyone knows about garden/woodland plants which are toxic to hens maybe you could let me know what the symptoms would be and how long after eating toxic plants would one expect to see these symptoms? My hen was looking out of sorts for a couple of weeks or so...sort of 'out of it' and a bit miserable looking, but was eating at least a bit. I noticed today that a clump of bluebells had grown up inside the hen run and the top inch or two of most of the leaves had been eaten. There is nothing else really except the hens that could have eaten the leaves. Also in the part of the garden where I let the hens out, some small bulbs of plants (not sure of species, but bulbs quite small) had been scratched up and it is quite possible that some of these could have been eaten I suppose.

    I plan to keep an eye on my two remaining hens for the next couple of weeks and hope that they stay healthy. Would two weeks be long enough to know that they had not been affected does anyone know? I will then be rehoming them hopefully, as between lots of neighbouring cats visiting my garden and vet bills among other things, I have decided that keeping hens, though they are a pleasure to watch when they are happily scratching around and having dust baths etc. is not a realistic proposition for me. I want to be sure that the hens are healthy first as it would be obviously unfair to burden someone else with sick hens The cat problem is one I really hadn't thought much about before I got the hens last summer, but it actually ends up meaning that the only time my hens can be let meander around my garden is when I am not only at home, but able to see out into the garden, which means sitting half way up my stairs looking out the window! As for 'meandering around the garden', the whole aspect of toxic garden plants doesn't seem to be adequately dealt with in the books which I read about keeping backyard chickens. My garden is intended to be a sort of 'woodland' garden (work in progress!) which includes periwinkle (Vinca sp.), narcissus, buttercup, honeysuckle etc all of which it now appears, are potentially toxic to hens. Alas! had I known about the dangers of toxic plants I could have ensured that my hens did not have access to them, but despite reading quite a bit about keeping hens, that danger had escaped my notice.
     
  2. Colonel-Sanders

    Colonel-Sanders Out Of The Brooder

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    From my knowledge chickens should not as much lay eyes upon bluebells or bluebell leaves as they can be quite toxic to the chicken.

    CORRECTION: NOT TOXIC, JUST DISLIKED.

    Hope this helps![​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2017
  3. Kay Kew

    Kay Kew Just Hatched

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    Thanks for your reply Colonel-Sanders. I wonder if you could please give me a bit more detail on where you got that information as I would be interested to read more about it. Thank you
     
  4. Colonel-Sanders

    Colonel-Sanders Out Of The Brooder

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    http://www.yourchickens.co.uk/care-and-advice/the_gardener_s_friend_or_enemy_1_915196

    Under the category, "Flowers, Shrubs, and Herbs."

    and

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/5251845/Hens-in-the-garden.html

    Apologies I don't know why I said they were toxic to the hen, they are just disliked to the point that they won't really touch them.
     
  5. Colonel-Sanders

    Colonel-Sanders Out Of The Brooder

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    Well I crafted a response with links, however on BYC I do not have permission to directly publish links so they had to be sent to the administrators before my response is published.
     
  6. Kay Kew

    Kay Kew Just Hatched

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    OK thanks for those links. I'll take a look at them. I am pretty sure that at least one of my hens ate a reasonable quantity of bluebell leaves that had grown up inside the edge of the run, because I really can't imagine what else it could have been. I had them in the run more than usual for a week or two, so their access to the grass etc in the rest of the garden would have been quite limited. Maybe in those circumstances at least one of them decided to have a go at the bluebell leaves for lack of other green stuff to eat. Despite attempts to encourage them to eat things like cabbage, spinach, broccoli and peas they seem to have little or no interest in them! Thankfully the other hens seem to be fine just over a week after the other hen died, so with a bit of luck whatever it was that made her sick is not going to affect them. I will be sorry to rehome them, but what with neighbours cats and vet bills among other things, I just don't think my circumstances are suited to free range, suburban hens for the time being.
     

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