Gray chicken walking amongst ferns

Ferns are a popular choice for landscaping and garden decorations, but for those who keep chickens as pets or for eggs, it’s important to know whether or not these plants are safe for your feathered friends. So are ferns toxic to chickens?

In this blog post, we’ll explore whether or not ferns are toxic to chickens and how to ensure the health and safety of your flock.

Types of Ferns

Ferns are a type of vascular plant that reproduces through spores, rather than seeds. There are thousands of different species of ferns, ranging in size and appearance. Some common types of ferns include:

  • Boston ferns
  • Maidenhair ferns
  • Staghorn ferns
  • Sword ferns
  • Bird’s nest ferns

It’s worth noting that while all ferns share some basic characteristics, there can be significant differences between species. This is important to keep in mind when considering the potential toxicity of ferns to chickens.

Are Ferns Toxic to Chickens?

In general, ferns are not toxic to chickens. While it’s possible that a chicken may experience digestive upset if it eats a large number of ferns, most species of ferns are not poisonous to chickens. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule, so it’s important to be cautious and do your research before introducing any new plants to your flock.

One type of fern that is known to be toxic to chickens is the bracken fern. Bracken ferns contain a chemical called ptaquiloside, which can be harmful to chickens if ingested in large amounts. Symptoms of bracken fern poisoning in chickens include vomiting, diarrhea, and reduced egg production. In severe cases, bracken fern poisoning can be fatal.

It’s also worth noting that while most ferns are not toxic to chickens, some species may be more prone to causing digestive issues if eaten in large quantities. As with any new plant, it’s always a good idea to introduce ferns to your flock gradually and in small amounts to ensure that they do not cause any digestive problems.

Hen laid eggs within ferns
Hen laid eggs within ferns

How to Keep Your Chickens Safe

While ferns are generally safe for chickens, it’s important to take steps to ensure the health and safety of your flock. Here are a few tips for keeping your chickens safe:

  • Know which plants are toxic to chickens: In addition to bracken ferns, there are several other plants that are toxic to chickens. These include foxgloves, lilies, and oleander, among others. It’s important to familiarize yourself with which plants are toxic to chickens and avoid introducing them to your flock.
  • Keep toxic plants out of reach: If you have toxic plants in your garden or yard, make sure to keep them out of reach of your chickens. This may involve fencing off certain areas or planting toxic plants in containers that are too high for chickens to access.
  • Provide a varied diet: Chickens are omnivores and do well on a varied diet that includes both plant and animal matter. In addition to their regular feed, you can offer your chickens a variety of safe plants, vegetables, and fruits to keep them healthy and happy.
  • Monitor your flock for signs of illness: It’s important to keep an eye on your chickens for any signs of illness. If you notice that one or more of your chickens are not acting normally, have stopped laying eggs, or are showing any other signs of illness, take them to a veterinarian right away.

In conclusion

Ferns are generally not toxic to chickens and can be safely enjoyed by your flock. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential toxicity of some species, such as bracken ferns, and take steps to keep your chickens safe.

With a bit of knowledge and caution, you can provide your chickens with a healthy and enjoyable environment.