Yew bushes toxic to chickens?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by smyers32, Sep 28, 2012.

  1. smyers32

    smyers32 Chirping

    I had my flock out free ranging for the first time yesterday and they didn't want to go more than 2 ft. from the barn! Anyway, there are two big japanese yew shrubs at one corner and I saw a couple of the hens pick at them a little. I know for sure that they are SUPER toxic to horses, like a handful will kill a horse in a matter of moments. The chickens are still alive, so obviously it's not the same level of toxicity for them, but should I discourage them from eating those bushes? They are on the opposite side of the barn from where I intended the chickens to graze, but lo and behold the flock doesn't conform to my intentions for them! lol
  2. chfite

    chfite Songster

    Jun 7, 2011
    Taylors, SC
    I believe that when the chickens can feed freely on their own that they will not eat anything that they should not eat.

    Nature tends to cull the stupid.

  3. OldChurchEggery1

    OldChurchEggery1 Songster

    Sep 27, 2011
    I concur with chfite. Your chickens may peck at it, but theymay not have ingested enough for it to matter or yew may not be toxic to birds at all. We have a feed supplement for our dairy cow that helps her digest fodder but is extremely toxic to equines because they do not have a rumen. So, what's toxic to one species may not bother something on a more distant branch of the mammal tree. Birds and horses are different enough that I wouldn't assume toxicity in equines means toxicity in good ol' gallus gallus. Perhaps you can encourage them to forage elsewhere by restricting them with electric netting for a while or scattering something tempting on the ground to attract them where you want them.
  4. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    The is a great resource: Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System

    The information is based on published reports of poisoning for various livestock.

    Yes, Japanese Yew is noted as having poisoned cattle and horses. You have reason to be cautious even tho' there is no report on poultry. After all, a chicken isn't likely to be smarter than the other animals. Also, commercial poultry is usually raised in confinement so the incidents of poisoning should be less than grazing animals. The poisoning of farm yard chickens may go unreported.

    Still, poisonous plants are often unpalatable and avoided. Of the 20 or so plants listed that have been reported to have poisoned poultry, many have contaminated the feed that is give to confined birds.


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