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Do chickens naturally know what to eat and what not to eat?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Nuklear, Sep 28, 2012.

  1. Nuklear

    Nuklear Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Outside is what I mean... like do they know what bugs they shouldn't eat? During the winter and spring we get many ladybugs and I've heard they're poisonous when they're eaten.
    Also, I've read that chickens love to eat worms and all of that, but I've also heard that worms can carry other parasites inside them; does this affect chickens in any negative ways? What are your experiences with them eating organisms that could possible be carrying a disease?

    I've never had chickens in my life, I don't have any now so I'm doing as much reading and research as I can before I get some, and before I get chickens we need to fix our fence so they won't wonder the neighborhood or so other animals can't get in. We have a nice sized backyard and a hill that I think chickens would absolutely enjoy foraging on. I'm sure the area contains many types of things for them to eat, but do they know what not to eat by instinct?

    Any help would be appreciated! I'm new here and I look forward to learning more information on keeping and raising chickens, they seem like such wonderful animals to keep around.
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. Kevin565

    Kevin565 Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    [​IMG]. No chickens do not naturally know which organisms are toxic or not to them. Most things they end up eating are harmless but depending upon your area some bugs can be an issue.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2012
  3. debid

    debid Overrun With Chickens

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    Toxic plants tend to taste bitter and that gives them a clue to stop eating it. Lady bugs emit a foul odor and I've yet to see a chicken eat one. But, I also know there is a beetle called a rose chafer that is toxic enough to kill and some chickens do die from eating them. There are a whole lot of things that are mildly toxic that they will eat without harm because they only take a few bites of this and that when there is plenty to choose from.

    They will also eat insects and earthworms that can serve as hosts for parasitic worms. Some folks de-worm routinely and others at signs of illness. I de-wormed my whole flock recently after one hen showed signs (she was well as quickly as she'd fallen ill with a 3-day treatment). It wasn't difficult or expensive and I think the benefits of ranging far outweigh having to de-worm them periodically.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2012
  4. Nuklear

    Nuklear Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 28, 2012
    Southern California
    Thank you for your responses.
     

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