Many gardeners enjoy keeping chickens as pets, and these friendly birds can provide a source of fresh eggs. However, it is important to be aware that there are many common foods that are actually poisonous to chickens.
For example, avocados contain a substance called persin, which can cause respiratory and digestive problems in chickens. Tomatoes and potatoes also contain harmful toxins, and even small amounts can make chickens sick. Chickens should also avoid eating any moldy or spoiled food, as this can lead to serious health problems. By being aware of these dangers, you can help to ensure that your chickens stay healthy and safe.
What Foods are Poisonous to Chickens?
Chickens are pretty creatures. A balanced and nutritious diet is essential for the overall well-being/health of chickens. As you know, the productivity of chickens (egg/meat) is linked with proper nutrition. Many chicken farmers ask a number of questions such as:
Which foods are poisonous for chickens?
Which foods I should avoid feeding to my chickens?
Which plants cause toxicity in chickens?
How should I prevent my chickens from food toxicity?
In this blog, we are going to discuss “What foods are poisonous to chickens?” under the light of scientific literature and general field experience.
WHICH FOODS CAUSE POISONING IN CHICKENS?
There are a variety of foods that cause poisoning in chickens. Hence, those food items must not be given to chickens. Also, keep in mind, that some food items hinder the optimum productivity of chickens and give rise to different diseases. Here, we are going to summarize the food items which are likely to cause poisoning in chickens.
- Chocolate poisoning
Chocolate is not considered safe for chickens. According to the scientific literature, chocolates cause poisoning in chickens. It leads to cardiac arrest and may put your chicken’s life in danger. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine (these chemical compounds are considered toxic for chickens).
This is highly recommended to keep chocolate or related products away from the reach of your chickens to save their lives.
- Moldy food items
This has been observed that moldy food items (chicken feed, grains) cause a variety of health-related complications in chickens. They are considered highly toxic for the liver and other body organs of the chicken. Technically, the moldy feed items cause “ Aspergillosis ” in chickens. This condition occurs to the toxins released by the fungi/molds in the food items.
Last but not least, never feed your chickens moldy food items. Discard the moldy food and keep in away from the reach of chickens.
- Highly processed food items (Junk food)
As you know, highly processed food items contain a high amount of bad fats. Generally talking, many people feed leftovers of junk food to their chickens. This is not recommended to give junk food to chickens because it may cause health complications.
- Solanine and chaconine poisoning
GREEN POTATOES ARE GREEN POISON FOR CHICKENS
Generally, the plants belonging to the nightshade family are considered toxic for chickens. Especially, green potatoes and tomatoes contain toxic compounds such as solanine and chaconine. These compounds cause poisoning in chickens.
This is highly recommended to not give leaves, and skin of green potatoes to chickens. Keep them away from the reach of chickens.
- Phytohaemagglutinin poisoning
Raw or dried beans are considered toxic for chickens. They cause a number of health complications in them. Raw beans contain a chemical compound called “Phytohaemagglutinin” that is poisonous for chickens. This is recommended to not feed raw or dried beans to chickens to protect their health.
- Persin poisoning :
This is a chemical compound found in the skin and pit of avocadoes in higher quantities. It is toxic for the chicken and can even put your chicken’s life in danger However; it has been proven by the experiments that the flesh of avocadoes is good for chickens but only in moderation. Keep in mind that, Persin is also found in the flesh of avocadoes but in lower quantities.
Avoid giving skin and pits of avocadoes to your chicken. In case of any emergency situation contact your veterinarian immediately.
- Foxglove poisoning
Foxglove is also considered poisonous for chickens. This is important to keep chickens away from this plant. The important signs of foxglove poisoning can be the following:
- Greenish droppings (within 36 hours)
- Depression and weakness
- Loss of appetite
- Increased thirst
- Wild mushrooms poisoning
Wild mushrooms are not considered safe for chickens. They cause toxicity and other health complications. Mushrooms cause kidney failure, neurological issues, and digestive complications in chickens. All along with that, they can even put a chicken’s life in danger. Keep in mind; that chickens are not immune to mushrooms. This is why; avoid giving mushrooms to chickens to keep them safe and healthy.
- Cyanide poisoning
Apple seeds are not considered safe for chickens. They contain cyanide that interferes with the metabolic processes of the chicken. They may even cause death in chickens. That’s why, it is not recommended to give apple seeds to chickens.
- Glycoside poisoning
Apricot leaves and seeds are not considered good for chickens. They cause poisoning because of the presence of cyanogenic glycosides in them. In short, these chemicals cause breathing problems, low pressure, and even death in chickens. This is why; it is not recommended to give apricot seeds and leaves to chickens to protect them from poisoning.
Chickens need a nutritious diet to stay healthy and perform well. Chocolate, junk food, and bakery foods are not considered healthy for chickens. All along with that, green potatoes, tomatoes, onions, eggplants, raw beans, apricot seeds, and avocadoes also cause poisoning in chickens. This is important to not feed these foods to chickens to protect them from poisoning and other severe health complications.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Which plants are toxic for chickens?
There are lots of plants that cause toxicity in chickens such as tulips, daffodils, morning glory, monkshood, tansy, Iris, boxwood, Ivy, trumpet vine, jimson weed, castor bean, etc. These plants should not be around your chickens.
How can I prevent my chicken from poisoning?
Keep your chickens away from toxic plants and food. Always monitor what your chicken is eating. Foods made for humans mostly cause toxicity and poisoning in chickens, avoid them.
Kunkle, R. A. (2010). Aspergillosis. The Merck Veterinary Manual. 10th edition. Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck Publishing, 2497-2498.
Wiemeyer, S. N., Hill, E. F., Carpenter, J. W., & Krynitsky, A. J. (1986). Acute oral toxicity of sodium cyanide in birds. Journal of wildlife diseases, 22(4), 538-546.
Taylor, C. A., & Ralphs, M. H. (1992). Reducing livestock losses from poisonous plants through grazing management. Rangeland Ecology & Management/Journal of Range Management Archives, 45(1), 9-12.
Author: Dr. Juon Abbass
DVM M.Phil PhD (Veterinary sciences)