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Plants Chickens Should Avoid!

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Wouldn’t it be nice to have a list of plants you’ll want to avoid around chickens? For that reason, you’ll want to make sure you don’t plant certain types of vegetables. Foliage in or around their run that they might munch. True, they may give it a quick taste and move on – typical chicken foraging behavior at its best. But needless to say, you don’t want to run the risk of something bad happening.

If you’ve been around chickens for any length of time. You’ve no doubt noticed they would try to sample or eat just about anything at least once. Take our “Goldie.” This beautiful Buff Orpinton is as smart as can be – including asking her to mind when she’s told to. But who did we see pecking at some white paint peeling from our old coop? You guessed: Our Goldie girl. 

Chicken Treat Ball
Chicken Treat Ball

Here are Some Pants to Avoid

  • Azalea – They may look stunning, but azaleas are among those plants you’ll want to avoid around chickens. Especially, when landscaping your coop or run. The entire plant is toxic to them and apparently causes problems with their cardiovascular system.
  • Boxwood – Boxwood poisoning may require the use of sedatives and respiratory or heart stimulants.
  • Bracken Fern – Birds ingest large quantities of thiaminase. A chemical found in Bracken Fern, a vitamin B1 deficiency can result – and “without prompt treatment, it can be lethal…” Helmer writes that the best way to identify them is by using a wildlife guide book. 
  • Clematis – Clematis is on the list of plants to avoid around chickens. By placing where your chickens can have access. Containing a chemical called protoanemonin, “all parts of the plant are considered toxic.”
  • Columbine – This is another popular landscaping plant with toxins that can affect their cardiovascular system. 
  • Daffodil – It’s said toxins in Daffodils could cause dermatitis and affect the gastrointestinal tract. 
  • Delphinium – Delphinium is among the ornamental plants that are poisonous to chickens. 
  • Foxglove – Foxglove can have ill effects on both the gastrointestinal tract and the cardiovascular system. This makes the list of those to avoid where chickens may have access.
  • Honeysuckle Bush – Toxins in the Honeysuckle Bush berries can affect the cardiovascular, nervous, and gastrointestinal tracts.
  • Hydrangeas – Among other things, Hydrangeas causes dermatitis in chickens. 
  • Ivy – Ivy also makes the list of ornamental plants that can be harmful to chickens
  • Morning Glory – One site said Morning Glories contain LSD-related hallucinogens and even nitrates at toxic levels. The fruit, a capsuled seed, is poisonous”…containing indolizidine alkaloids, “which cause low toxicity if ingested by poultry.”
  • Oleander – Like Azaleas and Fox Glove, Oleander contains what are called cardenolides. These “interfere with the cardiac function of the heart. This can cause irregularities in heart rate and rhythm.”
  • Peace Lilly – The Peace Lilly can cause dermatitis and harm the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Rhodendron – This one is also on Steele’s list to avoid. 
  • Tulips – Containing chemicals called glycosides, Tulips are indeed poisonous to chickens.
  • Yew – All parts of yew plants to avoid around chickens. They are very poisonous. They contain chemicals that can result in cardiac arrest and death within 30 minutes of ingestion. Most cases have resulted from flocks gaining access to yard/hedge clippings. This can cause chickens to die so quickly following ingestion “symptoms are rarely observed.” 

A Few More to Avoid

  • Burning Bush – The fruit is toxic to chickens if ingested. 
  • Elderberry – Steele cautions about this one. 
  • American Holly – The berries are toxic if ingested. 
  • Lily of the Valley – This ornamental is considered toxic. 
  • Mistletoe – Save it for your sweetheart. Both American and European Mistletoe are toxic to chickens.
  • Mountain Laurel – This plant shows up on several lists, including here and here. 
  • Nandina – Also called Sacred Bamboo, this invasive is deadly for all types of birds. 
  • Oak Trees – Eating acorns and leaves can cause chickens a host of problems.
  • Periwinkle – Shows up on multiple trouble lists, including here and here.

Fruit and Vegetable Garden Favorites to Skip

Though healthy for you and I, some fruits and vegetables are dangerous for your chickens to consume.

Here are the most common:

  • Apples – Chickens love apples, but the tiny seeds are trouble. They actually contain cyanide. Remove them before providing apple as a treat.
  • Apricots – You don’t want to give your girls the leaves or pits of apricots. They contain toxic cyanogenic glycosides that can cause breathing problems, low blood pressure, and seizures. 
  • Avocado – The flesh should be OK. The skin and pits are off-limits for chickens. Others even warn about the trees’ leaves and bark. For that reason, some will avoid providing avocadoes to their birds entirely. 
  • Beans – Containing a chemical called hemagglutinin, raw or uncooked beans are toxic to chickens.
  • Cherries  – Cherries are fine, but not the pits.
  • Citrus – Not a good idea since the jury is still out – and definitely don’t feed your chickens the skins of citrus fruit, either. 
  • Eggplant – One of the many nightshades, chickens should be able to eat cooked eggplant, but you will definitely want to keep them away from the plant itself and many others. 
  • Onions – Not only will onions actually flavor your chickens’ eggs, but large quantities can also be harmful,
  • Peaches – Like apricots and cherries, you should remove the pit before giving your chickens peaches. 
  • Potatoes – Like eggplant and tomatoes, the potato plant contains a chemical called solanine, which is toxic to chickens. You’ll also want to avoid feeding them green peels. But cooked potatoes are a nutritious treat.
  • Rice – There’s quite a bit of controversy over this one, so maybe stick with cooked rice rather than uncooked. 
  • Rhubarb – Rhubarb contains toxins such as oxalic acid made the list of what chickens can and cannot eat. 
  • Tomatoes – Our girls love tomatoes, and yours probably will too, but don’t give them too many and keep them away from the plants, leaves, and flowers – they’re bad news. 

In Conclusion

There are plenty of beautiful and beneficial plants that you can have around your flocks’ coop and run without risking their health, so it’s best to stay away from those that are sketchy. The same for certain fruits and vegetables. After all, if your birds are like ours, they can be a little too curious and eager to chow down sometimes. 

Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!

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