Keep Your Backyard Chooks Safe From Poisons

Keep Your Backyard Chooks Safe From Poisons

Know how to keep your backyard chooks safe from poisons? Read on to learn more about common poisoning threats to chickens – some of them might surprise you.

🔴Herbicides and pesticides – avoid spraying weeds/insects or leaving baits out in areas that chickens can access. If allowed to free range, your chooks will likely take care of many weeds and insects for you. However, chickens are very curious animals (that’s why we love them!) and will explore sheds and other storage units if allowed to and may inadvertently be exposed to stored chemicals. Ensure these areas are locked up so that your chooks are safe. Many rat and snail baits are made with cereals to make them attractive to their intended target species – this also makes them attractive to chickens. Do not scatter them around in areas your chickens have access; use bait stations if you must use these baits.

🔴Mite and lice treatments – malathion is an insecticide used in medicated sprays to treat poultry mite and lice. It needs to be diluted and applied correctly to reduce the likelihood of harm to the chicken. Unfortunately, sometimes well intentioned owners get this wrong and accidently apply too much to their chickens leading to poisoning. If you are uncertain about how to use these products it would be best to check with your veterinarian. In cases of early or mild infestations, natural alternatives such as diatomaceous earth (LOOK AT–>…/100-natural-parasite-powder/), keeping a clean coop, limiting contact with wild birds (use covered feeders) and using pest-repellent bedding such as hemp (SEE–>…/bed…/hemp-bedding-material/) can be effective at managing the problem.

🔴Plants – very little is known about plant toxicity in chickens so we need to draw upon experiences with other animals (including people). The good news is that chickens are pretty clever. If allowed to free range in your garden they will tend to avoid plants that could be poisonous. There is more risk when they live mostly in an enclosure being given limited choice in foods and by people they trust. Offering fruit and vegetable kitchen scraps is ok but avoid the following: salty foods, avocados, onions, citrus, apple seeds, raw dried beans, green potato skins, nuts, green tomatoes, rhubarb/potato/tomato/eggplant leaves and stems. In general, avoid offering garden cut offs.

🔴Mouldy food – aflatoxins produced by certain moulds can cause loss of appetite, wobbliness when walking, seizures and death. Store feed in secure feed bins in a dark, dry area. Inspect all food stuff for mould before giving it to your chickens.

🔴Ammonia poisoning – the bacteria in wet, soiled litter generate a lot of ammonia gas. This can burn the eyes and upper airways making breathing difficult. Easily avoided by regularly cleaning out soiled litter and replacing with clean litter.

🔴Blue-green algae – grows in stagnant water during warmer weather. Ponds, buckets and pot plant saucers are common locations. Causes twitching, seizures and death.

🔴Zinc – from foraging nuts, bolts, screws and fence clips. Causes damage to the stomach, red blood cells and kidneys. There is also the potential for internal damage and intestinal blockage (“hardware disease”).

🔴Polytetrafluoroethylene (commonly known as Teflon) – avoid using polytetrafluoroethylene coated heat bulbs in coops and other resting areas. If your chickens (or other birds) are inside, do not use polytetrafluoroethylene coated cookware. Fumes from these items cause heart failure.

🔴Nicotine – keep cigarette butts or other nicotine products away from areas your chickens can access. Causes muscle stimulation followed by weakness and paralysis of the respiratory muscles.

🔴Snakes – chickens do not naturally choose to eat snakes, but snakes will be interested in their feed and eggs (and in some cases the chickens themselves). To protect your chickens from snakes minimise rodents by keeping feed in rodent proof containers and covered feeders (use ones chickens step on to open such as –>…/chicken…/chooktred-feeders/). Keep areas around and inside the coop clear of rubbish, plants and long grass that snakes can hide in. Regularly collect the eggs. Ensure the coop is secure in all dimensions (especially the floor) ideally using 10 x 10 mm mesh.
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