Can Chickens Eat Rhubarb? Is it Poisonous?

Chickens can eat some parts of rhubarb but not the entire plant. Your birds can eat the stalks but not the leaves. Rhubarb leaves are poisonous because they contain oxalic acid, a poisonous substance that can cause kidney failure in birds.

Rhubarb is an amazing type of vegetable. It is crunchy and juicy with both sour and tart tastes that make it a little more difficult for some people to eat. So, when feeding it to your flock of backyard chickens make sure it is entirely safe.

Are Rhubarb Leaves Toxic to Chickens?

Yes, rhubarb leaves are poisonous. They contain high levels of oxalic acid which is highly poisonous when ingested in large amounts. Regardless of rhubarb leaves being toxic, other parts of this vegetable contain a substantial amount of highly nutritious compounds.

For instance, rhubarb is rich in minerals, vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. It also contains several unique compounds not available in most common vegetables eaten today. Such as oxalic and malic acid which are great sources of the characteristic sour taste.

Bear in mind that oxalic acid is toxic to birds, particularly chickens. Fortunately, the stalks have low levels of this poisonous substance, so they cannot pose a threat to your chickens.

Symptoms of Rhubarb Intoxication in Chickens

If your chickens eat rhubarb leaves they will get poisoned. Here are symptoms and signs of rhubarb intoxication in chickens :

  • Breathing difficulty
  • A burning sensation in the mouth and throat
  • Blisters all over the mouth
  • Coma, unconsciousness, or lack of responsiveness
  • Frequent diarrheas
  • Excess saliva
  • Kidney stones leading to flank and back pain
  • Seizures and convulsions
  • Body weakness

The toxicity experienced by chickens after eating rhubarb is normally not immediate, especially if it is in smaller amounts. However, in large amounts, oxalic acid binds calcium (within the affected chicken’s body) to calcium oxalic. The accumulation of calcium oxalic can result in the formation of kidney stones or cause kidneys failure and subsequent death.

As oxalic acid uses calcium in the blood, it inhibits calcium from forming healthy shells among layers. It eventually leads to poor eggshell formation and bone issues in chickens.

Also, rhubarb contains substances that can cause fairly severe diarrhea among chickens. This kind of complication comes about only if your birds eat a very high amount of this vegetable.  On top of that,  the high content of oxalic acid in the chicken’s body system can ultimately lead to death from cardiovascular problems.

It is always important to know that in order for some of the above-mentioned symptoms to occur, a chicken would have ingested large quantities of rhubarb leaves. In small amounts, rhubarb leaves can cause health conditions such as jaundice and tremors.

So, prevent your birds from eating rhubarb leaves by all means. Otherwise, your birds will be perfectly fine when they eat rhubarb stalks.

What to do If Chickens Eat Rhubarb?

When you discover that your chickens are feasting on some succulent green rhubarb leaves, just relax and don’t panic. Monitor their progress and try to observe rhubarb intoxication symptoms such as those listed above. Most likely, your chickens will become lethargic, start acting differently, become ill, or get diarrhea.

The chances of these symptoms appearing are slim, so you need not be worried should you see your chickens eating a handful of green rhubarb leaves. In any case you notice some of the symptoms associated with rhubarb poisoning, then you may consider consulting with your aviary veterinarian for medical intervention.

Can Chickens Eat Rhubarb Stalks?

Yes, chickens can eat rhubarb stalks just in the same way humans do. Rhubarb is healthy as it contains essential nutrients that your chickens need to grow and develop. Besides, the stalk contains fewer amounts of oxalic acid, meaning that it cannot harm your chickens.

Make sure to feed your birds on rhubarb stalks in moderation to discourage them from depending on this type of treat. Also, balance their diet so they can grow healthy and become more productive.

Can Chickens Eat Rhubarb Roots?

Not at all! Rhubarb roots are considered poisonous just like the leaves. They also contain toxic chemicals (such as anthraquinones and oxalic acid) which can be fatal to your chickens when eaten in large amounts.

On the other hand, rhubarb roots can be used as a traditional Chinese medicine for humans, especially when handled as required by a skilled practitioner. But that medicinal benefit is not part of the chicken diet.

Can Chickens Eat Rhubarb Pie?

To some extent, yes! Rhubarb stalk is commonly used in making the best pie in the US. Most often it is added to sweet applications. Since it is the stalk that is part of the pie, your chickens can enjoy this type of meal provided that you feed them in small quantities.

Can Chickens Die from Eating Rhubarb?

It depends on which part of the rhubarb plants your chickens are eating. The stalks of this vegetable are edible, so your chickens can eat them without causing any health problems. Rhubarb leaves are not to be given to the chickens because they are toxic.

Leaves contain a dangerous compound known as oxalic acid that is poisonous to both human beings and chickens. Rhubarb leaves can also make your birds sick when eaten in large amounts.

Rhubarb roots are also toxic and not fit for consumption. However, some chicken owners don’t see the problem with feeding their flock on rhubarb leaves. They claim that their birds do not show any signs of illness or being poisoned even after munching rhubarb leaves.

To be on the safe side, give your chickens rhubarb stalks as recommended by your local aviary veterinary officer.

Conclusion

Chickens love different kinds of treats including a variety of vegetables. Rhubarb is one of these vegetables that chickens find tasty. While this treat can help you save some money on chicken feed, it is only its stalk that you should give to your flock of chickens.

Normally leaves contain toxic compounds that can cause kidney failure and death when eaten in massive quantities. If you are cultivating rhubarb in your kitchen garden, fence it off as soon as they sprout. A nice fence will undoubtedly prevent your roaming chickens from helping themselves with this tasty treat.

Chickens

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