Do chickens avoid poisonous plants?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Leigti, Feb 28, 2017.

  1. Leigti

    Leigti Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 22, 2015
    Walla Walla WA
    I have a bunch of skip Laurel bushes in my backyard. The chickens absolutely love to hang out under there, and make a nice big dust bath areas. The bushes were there long before the chickens. But now I find out that they are poisonous, the leaves and the berries. I've had chickens for three years now and as far as I know they haven't gotten poisoned. Some people have said that chickens know what plants to avoid so am I just being paranoid? To be safe should I tear out the skip laurels and plant something different? And if so what would you suggest? I live in Eastern Washington state. I would prefer some sort of Evergreen or something that makes a nice screen.
  2. PorchChickens

    PorchChickens Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 15, 2017
    I'm interested to know the answer too. A lot of poisonous plants are unpalatable, so that may be a deterrent. That said, we're talking about animals that eat styrofoam and metal washers. My own chickens don't eat the cherry laurel and black cherry in my yard, but they have many other, tastier things to peck at all day. Like bits of plastic from some landscaping packaging. [​IMG]
  3. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    PorchChickens has some excellent points. I had to laugh. It's so true.

    My chickens have been avoiding the larkspur that grows by my porch, and none have eaten it in ten years. But I absolutely do not recommend you leave a bush with poisonous berries where your chickens hang out.

    Why take the chance that one of your less intelligent chickens might decide to sample it?
  4. tmarsh83

    tmarsh83 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 16, 2015
    I think generally the amount that a chicken would have to consume of most (MOST) ornamentals is so high that unless they have access to little else than a dirt patch, they are going to move on before eating enough to cause real harm.

    Berries might be an exception though.

    My birds range on 2+ acres, and sometimes more when the crops are down. They have grass, and garden cast-offs. They have choices.

    Azaleas and clematis are listed as no-nos for chickens, but other than a few random peck marks in leaves, they leave them be because they have other better options elsewhere.

    And I'm not giving up my clematis...

    Still, something dropping berries would bother me. That's why my burning bushes are gone...
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I'd say after 3 years you'd know if it was a real danger.
  6. aldarita

    aldarita Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 2, 2012
    Brenham TX
    I agree with tmarsh83. I have oleanders in my chicken yard, they were there before I had the chickens. My flock has been around them for 5 years now. They use them for shade and hide outs. I tried to get rid of them when I found out they were in the no list. YOU CANNOT GET RID OF OLEANDERS!!! unless you have a bulldozer. I chopped them up to the ground and they came back. I haven't seen any issue with my girls in all this time. I get worried when they bloom but the chickens don't eat the flowers, they must taste bad to them. They have plenty on grass to graze all year around, they have feed 24/7 and acre to move around and hunt for bugs all day long.
  7. Leigti

    Leigti Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 22, 2015
    Walla Walla WA
    Thanks for the replies. I don't have a huge yard. The berries are what worries me. But after three years maybe I either have smart chickens, the berries taste really bad, or I've just been darn lucky. And I have heard that getting rid of these bushes is really really hard. I will have to think about it.
  8. Leigti

    Leigti Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 22, 2015
    Walla Walla WA
    Several websites have said that the seeds are poisonous but that birds do eat the berries without a problem.

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