Yes, chickens can eat poison ivy leaves safely without developing any allergic reactions. While humans are quite allergic to poison ivy, chickens can safely consume this plant.
But can chickens eat poison ivy in large quantities? Here is everything you need to know about feeding poison ivy to your flock.
What is Poison Ivy? How to Identify this Plant in Your Chicken Range?
Poison ivy is known by the scientific name Toxicodendron Radicans. It is a climbing plant found in North America that secretes an oily resin – Urushiol that causes skin allergies in humans. A single leaf of this plant has three leaflets.
You can easily mistake a poison ivy vine and touch it by mistake. You must know what this plant looks like to check whether it grows in your surrounding area.
This plant changes color and appearance with the seasons. It is generally green with one big leaf attached to two smaller leaves at the sides. All the leaves have pointed tips.
In the spring season, the leaves of this plant turn red and green with green flower buds. The buds open slowly and appear off-white. In the winter season, the leaves turn deep red and shrivel off.
In the summer season, the leaves turn entirely green, while the new leaves will be red. During the fall season, the leaves turn bright yellow, orange, and red. You will find small white berries growing beneath the leaves at any time.
Is Poison Ivy Good for Chickens?
Most poultry animals, including goats, chickens, and others, regard these plants as treats. Poison Ivy is completely safe for chickens.
It is believed that most animals can safely consume this plant because the compound urushiol inhibits the growth and reproduction of certain microbes and pests in animals who consume it. Eating poison ivy is a natural way for animals to get rid of pathogens.
A chicken’s immune system does not feel endangered by poison ivy like ours. This plant has small quantities of proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, and even lipids. Adding poison ivy leaves to your chicken’s diet will boost its nutritional value.
Furthermore, this plant may help chickens reduce the pathogenic microorganisms naturally. Poison ivy can be given as treats to flocks and not as a complete meal. Over consumption of this plant may lead to malnutrition in birds.
When raising chickens, remember to feed them a diverse diet with different foods in moderate quantities.
Having said so, the entire concept of feeding chickens poison ivy while being careful yourself seems quite unnecessary. The plant is not rich in nutrients, and your chickens can very well do without eating poison ivy ever.
What to do if your Chickens Eat Poison Ivy?
As a chicken owner, you must keep in mind that since poison ivy is toxic to humans, you should handle it appropriately while your chickens are free ranging.
Never touch your chickens immediately after they have eaten poison ivy. The residue from the plant can easily transfer from the chickens to you and cause an allergic reaction.
If you want your chickens to eat this plant or if you have poison ivy plants in their foraging area, then remember to clean the chickens after they have eaten poison ivy leaves, flowers, or stalks, clean the contaminated surfaces, and then take a shower yourself.
You can give your chickens a dust bath before letting them inside their coop. Later, you can give them a bath with soapy water to remove the oily substance from their bodies. Remember to use gloves while handling them.
You might have to use a lipid-cutting soap to wash the oily resin off your body. You can also use Tecnu handwash, specifically made to remove poison ivy remnants. You can use soapy water to clean the area where your chickens have been foraging after eating poison ivy.
How to Kill Poison Ivy?
If you have poison ivy growing in your chicken’s free range and do not wish to constantly monitor whether your flock has eaten the plants, then it is better to kill the poisonous plant.
There are several ways of doing so:
- You can keep certain animals like goats and sheep that eat these plants. This is a great biological control method of removing the plant from your chicken’s free range.
- Another way is to physically remove the plants. You will have to wear gloves, masks, and rubber clothes before performing this task. Next, cut down the poison ivy stalks and place them in plastic bags and keep the trash out. Later, wash all your equipment and yourself with dish soap.
- Another way to remove the plants is by chemical control. You can spray poison ivy-specific pesticides such as Roundup to remove the plants chemically.
- If you do not want to indulge in chemical treatment, you can consider using a natural brine solution. Just add salt to warm water and spray this solution on the plants. This is a natural way to get rid of poison ivy plants.
- You can also make a home-based pesticide using a dish wash soap like the dawn dish soap, half a cup of salt, water, and 20% acetic acid. The salt starts the wilting process while the vinegar burns the plant. The soap reduces the lipid layer. This is an effective remedy to kill the plants.
How does Poison Ivy Affect Humans?
Humans are quite sensitive to this plant. The reason is that our immune systems are quite vigilant. Human immunity over-reacts to the otherwise harmless urushiol, killing its own skin cells. Whenever a human touches poison ivy, blisters are developed on the skin, which are nothing but human dead skin cells.
Older people are not sensitive to this plant because their immune system lowers as their age increases.
There is no harm if your chickens eat poison ivy. This plant has some proteins, minerals, carbohydrates, and vitamins that can be beneficial for the chicken.
But, since chicken owners can easily get a poison ivy rash after coming in contact with chickens who have consumed these poisonous plants, it is better to avoid it altogether.
There are some natural and chemical ways to get rid of these poisonous plants from your chickens’ foraging area.