I originally made this a post, but I think it’s an important enough topic to have it’s own page as well.

Spring has sprung, and the chickens are getting much more outside time.  With that in mind, while doing spring yard cleanup, it’s smart to pay extra attention to things that could potentially damage your foraging hens.  The winter snow covers so much, and invariably I find things like screws, nails, candy wrappers, Styrofoam pieces & cigarette butts that somehow find their way into my yard.  If I don’t clean those things up, the chickens WILL find them- and if they find them, they’ll try to eat them.  They’re not always the smartest of birds.

Additionally, spring is a good time to review what sort of plants you have growing in and around your yard, to make sure you’re not exposing your chickeny charges to something dangerous.  Below, I’ve pasted a list of toxic plants from chickenkeepingsecrets.com:

ARUM LILY ELEPHANT EAR (TARO) MOONSEED
AMARYLLIS ENGLISH IVY MORNING GLORY
ARALIA ERGOT MTN. LAUREL
ARROWHEAD VINE EUCALYPTUS (DRIED, DYED OR TREATED IN FLORAL ARRANGEMENTS) MUSHROOMS, AMANITA
AUTUMN CROCUS EUONYMUS (SPINDLE TREE) MYRTLE
AUSTRALIAN FLAMETREE EUPHORBIA CACTUS NARCISSUS
AUSTRALIAN UMBRELLA TREE FALSE HELLEBORE NETTLES
AVOCADO FLAME TREE NIGHTSHADES: (DEADLY, BLACK, GARDEN, WOODY, BITTERSWEET,
AZALEA FELT PLANT (MATERNITY, AIR & PANDA PLANTS) EGGPLANT, JERUSALEM CHERRY)
BANEBERRY FIG (WEEPING) OAK
BEANS: (CASTOR, HORSE, FAVA, BROAD, GLORY, SCARLET RUNNER, FIRE THORN OLEANDER
MESCAL, NAVY, PREGATORY) FLAMINGO FLOWER OXALIS
BIRD OF PARADISE FOUR O’CLOCK PARSLEY
BISHOP’S WEED FOXGLOVE PEACE LILY
BLACK LAUREL GLOTTIDIUM PERIWINKLE
BLACK LOCUST GOLDEN CHAIN PHILODENDRONS: (SPLIT LEAF, SWISS CHEESE, HEART-LEAF)
BLEEDING HEART OR DUTCHMAN’S BREECHES GRASS: (JOHNSON, SORGHUM, SUDAN & BROOM CORN) PIGWEED
BLOODROOT GROUND CHERRY POINCIANA
BLUEBONNET HEATHS: (KALMIA, LEUCOTHO, PEIRES, RHODODENDRON, MTN. LAUREL, POINSETTIA
BLUEGREEN ALGAE BLACK LAUREL, ANDROMEDA & AZALEA) POISON IVY
BOXWOOD HELIOTROPE POISON HEMLOCK
BRACKEN FERN HEMLOCK: (POISON & WATER) POISON OAK: (WESTERN & EASTERN)
BUCKTHORN HENBANE POKEWEED
BULB FLOWERS: (AMARYLLIS, DAFFODIL, NARCISSUS, HYACINTH & IRIS) HOLLY POTATO SHOOTS
BURDOCK HONEYSUCKLE POTHOS
BUTTERCUP HORSE CHESTNUT PRIVET
CACAO HORSE TAIL PYRACANTHA
CAMEL BUSH HOYA RAIN TREE
CASTOR BEAN HYACINTH RANUNCULUS, BUTTERCUP
CALADIUM HYDRANGEA RAPE
CANA LILY IRIS IVY: (ENGLISH & OTHERS) RATTLEBOX, CROTALARIA
CARDINAL FLOWER JACK-IN-THE-PULPIT RED MAPLE
CHALICE (TRUMPET VINE) JASMINE (JESSAMINE) RED SAGE (LANTANA)
CHERRY TREE JERUSALEM CHERRY RHUBARB LEAVES
CHINA BERRY TREE JIMSONWEED RHODODENDRONS
CHRISTMAS CANDLE JUNIPER ROSARY PEA SEEDS
CLEMATIS (VIRGINIA BOWER) KY. COFFEE TREE SAND BOX TREE
CLIVIA LANTANA (RED SAGE) SKUNK CABBAGE
COCKLEBUR LARKSPUR SORREL (DOCK)
COFFEE (SENNA) LILY OF THE VALLEY SNOW DROP
COFFEE BEAN (RATTLEBUSH, RATTLE BOX & COFFEEWEED) LILY, ARUM SPURGES: (PENCIL TREE, SNOW-ON-MTN, CANDELABRA, CROWN OF THORNS)
CORAL PLANT LOBELIA STAR OF BETHLEHEM
CORIANDER LOCOWEED (MILK VETCH) SWEET PEA
CORNCOCKLE LOCUSTS, BLACK / HONEY SWISS CHEESE PLANT (MONSTERA)
COYOTILLO LORDS & LADIES (CUCKOOPINT) TANSY RAGWORT
COWSLIP LUPINE TOBACCO
CUTLEAF PHILODENDRON MALANGA UMBRELLA PLANT
DAFFODIL MARIJUANA (HEMP) VETCH: HAIRY/COMMON
DAPHNE MAYAPPLE (MANDRAKE) VIRGINIA CREEPER
DATURA STRAMONIUM (ANGEL’S TRUMPET) MEXICAN BREADFRUIT WATTLE
DEATH CAMUS MEXICAN POPPY WEEPING FIG
DELPHINIUM MILKWEED, COTTON BUSH WHITE CEDAR, CHINA BERRY
DEVIL’S IVY MISTLETOE WISTERIA
DIEFFENBACHIA (DUMB CANE) MOCK ORANGE YEWS
ELDERBERRY MONKSHOOD YELLOW JASMIN

Is elderberry toxic to chickens?

According to PoultryDVM:

Caution – Potential Toxicity: Elderberry leaves, stems, roots and immature fruit are capable of producing large amounts of cyanide (a deadly toxin). Also, chickens should not be given large quantities of the berries to snack on either—as even when mature, S. nigra contains an assortment of active ingredients, which if ingested in large quantities, can be toxic to poultry.

Additionally, according to NormsFarms.com:

A common misperception is that the European Elder is the edible variety of Black Elderberry and that the American Elder is not edible, or does not contain the same constituents for which the European Black Elderberry is known.  In fact, they are now considered to be different varieties of the same genus-species, and current research on the American Black Elderberry indicates that it may actually contain more of the anthocyanin’s and polyphenols thought to give elderberry its health benefits. The seeds, stems, leaves and roots of the Black Elder are all poisonous to humans.  They contain a cyanide-inducing glycoside.  Eating a sufficient quantity of these cyanide-inducing glycosides can cause a toxic buildup of cyanide in the body and make you quite ill.  Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and even coma.  Most people recover quickly, although hospitalization may be required. The fruit of the elderberry is a tiny berry, about 1/8 to ¼ inch in diameter, and about 50% of the berry is seed.  Cooking the berries destroys the glycosides present in the seeds, making the berries with their seeds safe to eat.  As such, the fruit of the Black Elderberry should always be cooked before consumption.  Interestingly, research indicates that exposing elderberry to heat actually concentrates the polyphenols and anthocyanin’s.

Verdict: Proceed with caution.  Chickens don’t appear to really love eating the plant parts, but love the fruits.  It might made sense to place chicken wire around the plant prior to fruit ripening.

 

This is in no ways definitive, and there are other lists floating around out there.  For instance, this list on poultryhelp.com cites several plants that aren’t on the list above, such as lamb’s quarters, a common backyard weed in Michigan. I’ve found nothing that indicates lamb’s quarters are toxic for chickens- in fact, my chickens have eaten them since last year, and I regularly eat them in salads and spinach pie.  Likewise, that list also cites alfalfa, which many chicken keepers give directly to their hens.  Do your homework with plants you may have around, watch what your chickens go after, and be cautious.  For instance, from the above list I have quite a few toxic plants, like daffodils, burdock, wisteria, and lily of the valley.  I noticed a few days ago that my daffodils are starting to poke through the ground, and one curious hen grabbed a bit of green in her beak.  Before I could chase her off, she let go and walked away- on some of the more toxic plants, they’ll leave them alone of their own accord.  Does that mean I trust the chickens to 100% never eat anything dangerous, or that I could leave them in their chicken tractor parked over a bed of daffodils. Nope.  It’s better to be safe than sorry, and to limit their access to poisonous plants in ways that make sense.  Most of the things naturally growing in your yard will be fine for your chickens to peck and eat- keep them away from tomato plants & potato plants (nightshades), ornamental plants, and seedpods (especially wisteria).

plants toxic to chickens
My hens as juveniles late last spring. Notice the broad leaf plant near the bottom? That’s lamb’s quarters, which is “supposedly” toxic, but has been consumed repeatedly by my hens.
Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Plants Toxic to Chickens

  1. This is an outrageous list, absolute hogwash. I wish you would remove it from your Internet as it has already been spread around the internet enough as it is.

    All websites linked throw a 404 Error, you have zero references named here. You obviously are not an expert on the subject and neither are your sources. Why confuse people to this degree.

  2. Agree with Markus, list is about 90% manure.

    Trust your birds, they are honestly smarter than most all of you city slicking yuppies.

  3. Seriously I’ve never seen anything like this in all my life and neither have 4 generations of my family who have always lived through out the mountains and country from West Virginia, Kentucky, and Indiana. If I were to take your list seriously and rid my land of all those things it would be a barren dessert. Well it might look like a manicured sterile grass (only) suburb city yard where people spray their yards to kill weeds and bugs that are mostly beneficial like clovers and honeybees! And is why kids these days don’t even know what crickets or grasshoppers are or the role they play in raising chickens. Mother Nature used to have a way of weeding out idiots. That goes for chickens. They aren’t as stupid as you think and can learn for themselves what’s good for them. I would give you some advise that you should keep your birds locked in a pin because if I was your chickens I would have done ran to the neighbors!

    1. We had two bird of paradise clumps in our backyard. One got surrounded by the chicken run. Our hens loved it! After they ate all the low hanging leaves they would jump to catch the upper leaves but more often than not the leaves would spring back leaving the chicken with only a “bite” of leaf. Then very slowly and methodically went about obliterating the clump. First they would peck away, low down at the stem, until they managed to “fell” the whole thing and eat it up, stem and all. Once they completely denuded the plant, this took a few months, they went to work on the root system from the plant end eating the tasty pulpy root as if it were a grub, together with whatever bugs they found tucked away amongst the roots. All that remains of that bird of paradise (toxic to chickens, I’ve read) is a dirt mound with a few dried scraggly roots sticking up. They take turns climbing atop the mound in their game of “queen of the hill.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s