Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chicken Ladies Enemy Number 1: Rhubarb

Is the most thriving plant in Vegetable Village threatening to take out the chicken ladies?

A few days ago we un-cooped our hens to astonish and enthrall the neighborhood kids. I was surprised and more than a little alarmed when they headed straight for the rhubarb. As bushy and vigorous as this plant is, the chickens made lace of its leaves within a few minutes.

Rhubarb leaves are notoriously toxic to people and most pets, but the chickens seemed unphased after their feast. Too preoccupied to Google the matter, I spent a nervous night wondering if they would make it to dawn.

Thankfully, they survived, but now that I've done my homework, I'll be defending the chickens from the rhubarb, and the other way around, for the rest of the summer.

Rhubarb is on this list of plants toxic to chickens.

The leaves are full of oxalates that can cause kidney damage, cardiovascular problems, and a plethora of other issues. The effect is much more pronounced in people, but some chickens that grow fond of the leaves (as ours have) can suffer cumulative poisoning as well.

Good thing I finally did my homework! Hmmm, now, where did I put my rhubarb cake recipe?

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