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Many plants are hazardous for both humans and other animals. For instance, Cherry Laurels can harm humans as well as cats, dogs, cows, pigs, and other smaller creatures. So, what about chickens? Can it poison them too?
Parts of cherry laurels can be poisonous to chickens. The flesh of Cherry Laurel berries is safe, but its seeds, leaves, and bark are all poisonous to varying degrees. Generally, chickens don’t like seeds and are usually good at avoiding toxic foods.
Chickens usually stay away from berries and other foods that are harmful to them. However, you will want to keep your chickens away from Cherry Laurels. This article explains why.
Why Cherry Laurels Are Potentially Poisonous to Chicken
Cherry Laurels are known for being poisonous to humans and other animals. If chickens eat specific portions of the plant or fruit, they can become sick. But because chickens do not commonly eat them, some academic research papers don’t put it on the list of plants that could be fatal to poultry (source).
However, you still need to be mindful of this. Let’s take a closer look at why Cherry Laurels may not be entirely safe for chickens.
What Makes Cherry Laurels Poisonous?
Cherry Laurels are toxic plants that contain Cyanogenic Glycosides. These toxins are poisonous to animals and humans (source).
Some parts of the plant have a higher concentration of Cyanogenic Glycosides. So, when you chew them, the Cyanogenic Glycosides turn into Prussic acid or Hydrocyanic acid. The chewing releases this acid from the fruit into the stomach, causing poisoning.
The harm these toxins do will depend on the quantity of fruit a chicken ingests. You must look for Cherry Laurel’s poisoning symptoms if you believe your chickens may have had one too many. These include:
- Respiratory paralysis or other breathing issues
- Stomach problems
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Intestinal problems
Call a vet if you see these symptoms.
What Parts of Cherry Laurels Are Poisonous?
Cherry Laurel seeds, leaves, and bark are all highly poisonous as they contain a high concentration of Cyanogenic Glycosides. They are the leading cause of poisoning due to ingesting the plant. However, chickens usually don’t eat leaves and bark due to their bitterness.
Some sources claim that only wilting leaves release prussic acid and are harmful. But not all research confirms this. Most of the papers talk about all Cherry Laurel leaves being toxic. So, to be safe, it’s best just to keep the chickens away from them.
The flesh of Cherry Laurels is the most edible part of the plant, as long as it is not bitter. Bitter Cherry Laurels have a high Cyanogenic Glycosides concentration, making them toxic to animals, including poultry and other birds (source).
How To Keep Chickens Away From Cherry Laurels?
Cherry Laurels are invasive plants. They grow aggressively and stay fresh for most of the year. Cherry Laurel hedges also often serve as a screen or shade for houses and animals.
Their flowers have a sweet smell that attracts chickens and other birds. So, you may be unable to keep the chickens away from them if you have a hedge in your garden.
However, chickens don’t usually eat seeds and mostly stay away from bitter leaves and bark. So, there is a good chance your chickens may not consume the poisonous parts of the plant.
However, you must still take precautionary measures to protect them. Here are a few things you can do:
- Use harmless shrubs other than Cherry Laurels to provide shade or fencing for your chickens
- Create some barrier between the Cherry Laurels hedges and the chicken coop to keep your chickens away from Cherry Laurel plants
- Keep your garden clean and wipe away any fallen fruit
- Remove wilting Cherry Laurel leaves
- Uproot Cherry Laurel hedges if they kill any chickens
Can Proper Meal Schedules Stop Chickens From Eating Cherry Laurels?
Chickens store food in their gizzards as they can’t chew. Digestion takes time, making it challenging for you to maintain a proper meal schedule for chickens.
Remember, chickens aren’t picky eaters. They may only eat when they want to but will also eat whatever they find when hungry. So, unless you can physically keep the chickens away, maintaining a meal schedule is not a good strategy for preventing them from eating Cherry Laurels.
Why Do Gardens Have Cherry Laurels if They Are Poisonous?
Despite being poisonous, Cherry Laurels are popular as ornamental plants.
Cherry Laurels don’t make most published lists of plants poisonous to poultry. But eating parts of the plant, such as leaves, seeds, and bark, may poison chickens. Chickens don’t generally eat seeds and bitter-tasting foods but it is best to keep them away.
However, since chickens aren’t picky eaters, they will likely eat Cherry Laurels if they find them on the ground. So, take preventive measures if you have Cherry Laurels in your garden and are worried your chickens may eat them.