Is citrus poisonous!???

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Cadbury22, Feb 27, 2016.

  1. Cadbury22

    Cadbury22 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I read in a chicken book about keeping chickens that citrus is poisonous to chickens. I am concerned because I had grapefruit in the compost pile and they were scratching around in there. Anyone know anything???? Thanks!!!
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    I've thrown some old oranges out for my birds but they never touched them. Chickens will usually not eat things they can't. I wouldn't worry.
     
  3. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    Small amounts is fine, I don't know who wrought the book but I don't think they need to wright anymore.
    There are more than one study on feeding citrus to livestock (including poultry) and it shows that in small amounts citrus may be good your livestock and poultry.
     
  4. Cadbury22

    Cadbury22 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you both for the information. I panicked a bit when I read that. Last thing I want to do is poison the chickens!
     
  5. Jensownzoo

    Jensownzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah, no. I looked up a whole bunch of scientific studies on this just last week. Citrus is fine as a snack.

    One interesting study actually showed that chickens were able to handle heat stress better when lemon juice was added to their water...better quality eggs and higher production.
     
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  6. MysteriaSdrassa

    MysteriaSdrassa Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There are very few things that are toxic to chickens, avacado being the biggest no-no and can be deadly to chickens. Citrus however, in limited amounts like any treat is just fine for birds. Many do tend to avoid it due to personal tastes however. Every bird can be as picky as you or I as to what they like or dislike.
     
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  7. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    The reason that citrus should be limited isn't because it's poisonous. It's because it can interfere with calcium absorption, which can cause shell quality problems. Small amounts is fine. Too much, and you will have soft shelled eggs. Citrus won't cause any physical harm the chickens.
     
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  8. Jensownzoo

    Jensownzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I looked high and low for studies supporting this assertion and couldn't find any? Do you have a source?
     
  9. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Some fruits and vegetables contain a chemical called oxalic acid. This chemical is known and proven to interfere with with calcium absorption. Foods that contain oxalic acid include strawberries, spinach, tomatoes, and citrus fruits. Some breeds tend to be more sensitive to oxalic acid, as are some individuals. This is why some flocks can consume foods that are high in oxalic acid without any noticeable issues, and some flocks will have shell quality problems or egg-bound problems.
    It's not something that will affect every single chicken in the exact same way. Some people choose not to risk it, and just recommend staying away from citrus entirely. Others have an everything in moderation outlook.
    Are a few grapefruits here and there going to cause serious harm? Not likely. Is there the potential for a bird to experience calcium related side effects from eating too much grapefruit? Yes.
     
  10. Jensownzoo

    Jensownzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, oxalic acid does combine with calcium to form calcium oxalate. I had to be pretty careful about that when I had a green iguana since his entire diet consisted of greens, vegetables, and fruits. Maintaining the proper calcium:phosphorus ratio in his diet + ensuring vitamin D for absorption was critical since he came to me as a rescue with metabolic bone disease already in progress

    Citrus just does not contain enough oxalates to be worried about them. For example, an average sized orange contains 24mg. Compare that to a 1/2c of spinach which contains 750mg, wheat germ that has 134mg, kale that has 125mg, or an apple that has 41mg. Grapefruit contains even less than an orange.

    I did find a study that revealed that if infected with the fungus Apergillus niger, it would act on the fruit sugars to convert them into either citric acid or oxalic acid depending on the pH of the solution. So, don't feed your chickens moldy oranges, just in case the oxalic acid content has been boosted?
     
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