Chickens love foraging around your yard, trying to find new foods and snacks, so they are bound to eat something toxic eventually. Of course, when it comes to toxic plants, these events can be avoided. You should remove any poisonous plants from your yard so your chickens, or other pets and livestock, are unable to consume them. So, are azaleas poisonous? What should you do if your chicken eats them?
Are Azaleas Poisonous To Chickens
Yes, azaleas are highly toxic to your chickens if consumed. They contain toxins called grayanotoxins present in all parts of the plants, harmful to both chickens and people. Grayanotoxins can cause irregular heart rate, irregular heart rhythm, cardiac damage, and even death in high doses.
We’ll take a closer look at what azaleas are, the different types, which ones are toxic, and the various parts of the plants that are poisonous to your pets.
What Are Azaleas
Azaleas are flowery bushes that are commonly found in gardens or landscaping. They are used as ornamentals worldwide and can be evergreen or deciduous, meaning they shed their leaves in the winter.
There are more than 80 species of azaleas, although most of their flowers are bell-shaped or funnel-shaped. These shrubs flower in the spring, usually lasting several weeks, and can produce red, pink, white, purple, and yellow flowers depending on the species.
Azaleas are very common in North American yards. If you have azaleas in your yard or near your chickens, it’s vital to either fence them off or remove them altogether.
Why Are Azaleas Dangerous To Chickens
As mentioned above, Grayanotoxins, which is chemically similar to turpentine components such as pinene, is found in Rhododendrons and Azaleas.
When consumed, this volatile resin burns the mouth and can cause severe illness in both animals and humans. Grayatoxins can also be present in the nectar of both azaleas and rhododendrons.
The dark, reddish colored nectar honey is known as “mad honey” and causes “mad honey disease” in humans, including other animals such as chickens, goats, mice, and rabbits.
What Types of Azaleas Are Poisonous to Chickens?
With so many different varieties available through the United States, which ones are safe and which are dangerous for your livestock? Both Azaleas and Rhododendrons are incredibly poisonous for your pets.
Both belong to the genus Rhododendron and have many of the same features. The biggest differences are:
- Deciduous or evergreen
- Thin leaves and often hairy
- Flowers typically have 5 or 6 stamens
- Many small stems
- Thick large leathery leaves
- Flowers usually have 10 or more stamens
- Grow larger than azaleas
Both are beautiful flowers but are equally poisonous to both chicks and full-grown chickens.
Are All Parts of Azalea Plants Poisonous to Chickens?
The toxin can is found in leaves, petals, vines, stems, and even pollen, making the entire plant poisonous. If chickens consume as little as 0.2% of their body weight, it can result in poisoning.
What Is Grayanotoxin Poisoning?
Symptoms of poisoning include diarrhea, tremors, weakness, edema (swelling), seizures, abdominal pain, gastrointestinal issues, and death. If you think your chicken has ingested a toxic plant or other poison, it’s essential to keep a close eye on your flock for a few hours to see if you notice any of these harmful symptoms.
According to the University Of Maryland Extension, the first signs of poisoning will be salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, and bloating. If you catch it this early, you might be able to stop your chicken from eating more and cause any further problems.
If they consume any more, they might experience irregular heart rate and rhythm, loss of coordination, and convulsions. This is when you should seek immediate veterinary help. In very high doses, your chickens will fall into a coma and die.
The severity of the poisoning depends on how much of the plant was consumed. There is no antidote, so prompt supportive veterinary care is very important for survival.
What To Do If Your Chickens Eat Azaleas
If you suspect your chicken has eaten azaleas or another toxic plant, you should seek veterinary help to find the most effective treatment plan. Ensure you take a portion of the plant with you, so your vet can positively identify the plant and know how to treat it.
If your chicken has only consumed a little of the toxin and is experiencing symptoms such as salivating or diarrhea, you should promptly remove the plant from your yard to ensure they do not eat anymore. Give your chicken some Epsom salt water to flush out their system. You can also give them some electrolytes like coconut water to speed their recovery.
You’ll want to watch your chicken for any unusual behavior. If he/she stops eating, drinking or eliminating, contact your veterinarian immediately. Your vet will most likely flush your pet with saline or activated charcoal to cleanse and remove the poison from the gastrointestinal tract.
If your chicken is weak, losing coordination, or is convulsing, it is important that you take them to an emergency vet or animal hospital as soon as possible. This is an indication that your chicken has consumed a high dose of toxin and could fall into a coma if not treated right away.
When it comes to toxins, the key is prevention. You should know what your chickens can and can’t eat and make sure all toxic plants are removed from your yard. If you don’t want to or are unable to remove them, at least fence them off, so your chickens are unable to gain access to them.
If your flock is somehow able to get into the toxic plants, even with a fence, removing the plant is necessary to prevent any future or reoccurring animal hospital visits.
Other Poisonous Plants for Chickens
There are several other poisonous plants that may be in your yard right now. We’ve put together a huge list of plants chickens can cannot eat. Read that list and find out what plants you have in your yard. Most people have no clue that elephant ear plants are toxic to chickens.
If you have any toxic plants, change them out with the plants chickens can eat.
Chickens are very sneaky when it comes to foods they shouldn’t be eating. If you know you have toxic plants in your yard, the only way to ensure your chickens won’t eat them is to remove them.
Azaleas and Rhododendrons are highly toxic to chickens and are known to cause heart damage, including irregular heartbeat, irregular heart rhythm, cardiac arrest, and even death. Signs that your chicken has ingested a toxic plant include salivation, diarrhea, vomiting, tremors, weakness, swelling, seizures or convulsions, and loss of coordination.
If you think your chicken has ingested a toxic plant, you should seek immediate medical help from an emergency veterinarian or an animal hospital. There is no antidote for poisoning in chickens, so supportive care is dire when it comes to the survival of your feathered friend.
Don’t take any risks. If you think you have a toxic plant in your yard, you should remove it to prevent any incidents. Prevention is critical when it comes to your chickens, eating things they shouldn’t.