Foraging and Poisonous Plants

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by LAChickens, Feb 26, 2012.

  1. LAChickens

    LAChickens Chirping

    Feb 12, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    I picked a big armload of milkweed this afternoon and was going to give the greens to the hens, but I decided to check online first to make sure that they are okay for hens to eat. I havne't found a definitive list of plants that are okay, but I did find a link (see below) of forbidden plants.

    Now I'm confused, I live in an oak forest, so there's oak on and completely surrounding my property. The back hill is covered with Oxalis which the chickens have been eating daily since they were small), milkweed, clover and other unknown weeds. The side yard has been planted with Vinca (Periwinkle) which grows right up to the side of the run. There are tomato plants in the backyard, and callas and ivy grow in the front. So basically my yard, like many others is filled with plants that are listed as poisonous. I don't have a lawn or hayfield , Does this mean that I have to keep the chickens in a sterile environment and purchase everything they eat to keep them from getting poisoned? How do you guys deal with foraging and toxic plants?

    I found this link:

  2. Bullitt

    Bullitt Songster

    Jan 16, 2012
    It sounds like your chickens have been free ranging. Have they been sick?

    Animals will avoid many plants that make them sick. And they probably would have to eat a lot of some plants to make them sick.

    If your chickens are healthy, just keep letting them do what they have been doing. But it might not be a good idea to start pulling arm loads of weeds and feeding them to the chickens.
  3. Tivona

    Tivona Songster

    Jun 2, 2011
    From what I have seen most animals will avoid poisonous plants, however if they are kept hungry or confined then given a bunch to go through they may try things they normally wouldn't. Free ranged birds are able to chose more palatable things but they still might try somethings that are not good for them. I have seen my birds peck at some poisonous plants and spit them out which is why I try to kill all the deadly nightshade that grows here and I avoid planting anything where the birds will be that is poisonous or I fence it off if I do grow it. I am more picky for anything that I throw into their nighttime pen as I have no pellets in the pen at night and they would perhaps be less picky having less to chose from at the time. By providing them good feed all day (not at night due to rodents) instead of just meals I feel mine are less likely to try things that might be bad for them. So far I have had success. Just my opinion from what I have seen, I am not an expert and plants vary from area to area.
  4. Kikiriki

    Kikiriki Songster

    May 26, 2011
    Central Florida
    Hi LAchickens,

    Im like you in that Im discovering how my yard is full of toxic plants. I did look up hibiscus because the yard has a huge naturalized plot of it from previous owners. They arent the new varieties, but an old one with red flowers that dont get so showy as the more tender varieties. Hibiscus leaves are not toxic and they loved them. Loquat leaves are not toxic, but they didnt show much interest in them..they may be too tough for 5 week old chicks...maybe later they will develop a taste for them. They do spit out things they dont like and will not revisit it. I think it is good that they are learning what is bad tasting so they will avoid it.

    These girls eem very picky to me though.. They would not try bread, did not like first leaves off mustard greens, ignored sprouted pea leaves, did not like bananna, did not care for lettuce sprouts, would not eat the yolk from a hard boiled egg, wanted nothing to do with plain yogurt, and did not go for cucumber!

    What is a chicken mom to do?!

    Like you, I too have a lot of oxalis and they nibbled it, but they really went for those hibiscus leaves! They do like Quaker Oats (old fashioned unflavored, unsweetened kind), but there is nothing they love more than bugs!! They will ignore their starter feed and cracked grain scratch if there is a chance to get a bug.

    I have seen other people post that they will eat ants, but mine do not: they just avoid them.

  5. Mine love spiders and spider webs.... they go crazy when they see a web.... I've seen them eat whole spider egg sacks. They'll take a brown widow any day over just about any food item. You gotta love chickens. Cuz I HATE spiders.
    1 person likes this.

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