Jasmine is one shrub that is greatly loved for its highly aromatic flowers. Delicate, clustering and often climbing, there is hardly anything more beautiful found in nature.
Jasmine can be found all over the world and is commonly cultivated as a decorative plant. Like many other decorative plants, chickens might occasionally want to sample it!
Is it okay for chickens to eat jasmine?
It depends. Most “true” jasmine plants are safe for chickens to eat, but there are false jasmines and several completely unrelated plants that have “jasmine” in the name that are deadly poisonous to birds. You must positively identify and verify the safety of any jasmine before allowing your chickens to eat it.
It turns out that many chicken owners are unaware of the fact that some seemingly innocuous plants can pose a serious threat to their flock.
It’s important for chicken keepers to be able to identify both safe and unsafe jasmine if they have any growing on their property, as well as know what to do if their chickens have ingested something poisonous.
This article will tell you what you need to know.
There are Many Varieties of “Jasmine” Plants
While most people think of jasmine as a fragrant flower, there are actually several varieties of jasmine plants that are prized for their ornamental value.
Jasmine sambac, for example, is a small shrub with dark green leaves and white flowers that are often used in leis and perfumes.
Jasmine tea is made from the flowers of the Jasminum officinale plant and has a light, sweet flavor.
And the Jasminum polyanthum, or Chinese jasmine, is a fast-growing vine with clusters of white flowers that is often used in bonsai.
While all of these plants are beautiful, they also have something else in common: they are all non-toxic to humans and animals.
As a result, they can be eaten without worry by people and animals, including chickens.
However, not all plants that have “jasmine” in the name are completely safe for chickens. In fact, there are several varieties of poisonous plants that are sometimes called jasmine, which can pose a serious threat to your flock if they are ingested.
Some Jasmine Varieties are Deadly Poisonous for Chickens
Some “jasmine” is actually completely unrelated to the real thing, not even a “false jasmine” lookalike.
One such common, beautiful and deadly example is evening trumpet flower, more commonly known as Carolina jasmine.
Carolina jasmine, gelsemium sempervirens, is a beautiful yet poisonous plant that is native to the southeastern United States.
The glossy green leaves and fragrant yellow flowers make it a popular choice for landscaping, but it can be highly dangerous if ingested.
All parts of the plant are toxic, full of alkaloid poisons that are related to strychnine. The leaves in particular are the most potent and ingesting just a few can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and heart arrhythmias.
In severe cases, it can even be fatal. These toxins are especially lethal to birds, including chickens.
If you suspect that your birds have eaten from this plant or other seek medical attention immediately.
And while it may be tempting to add this striking plant to your property, it’s best to hold off or remove it if you have chickens.
You Must Be Certain of the Species Before you Serve it To Your Chickens!
It is imperative that all chicken owners know exactly what kinds of plants are growing on and around their property.
This is the only way to be absolutely certain that your chickens are not in danger of ingesting something poisonous, and you should never harvest and feed chickens any plant you are not 100% sure about.
If you are unsure of the identification of a plant, there are a few ways to find out. You can take a sample to your local cooperative extension office or Master Gardener program for help.
Or, you can consult a reputable field guide or online resource.
When in doubt, it’s always better to be safe (rather than sorry) and keep your chickens away from any plants that you cannot positively identify as safe.
Effects of Jasmine Poisoning
The effects of jasmine poisoning depend on the plant. As mentioned, there is a considerable variety in these plants, and even more variety among their false lookalikes and “jasmines-in-name-only”.
Jasmines that contain toxic glycosides can cause vomiting and diarrhea in chickens. These symptoms are often followed by depression, weakness, tremors, and convulsions.
In severe cases, respiratory paralysis and death may occur.
Jasmines that contain other poisonous compounds can cause similar symptoms, as well as heart arrhythmias, kidney damage, and liver damage.
As with any other type of poisoning, the severity of the symptoms will depend on the amount of plant material ingested and the overall health of the chicken.
A healthy chicken is less likely to experience serious effects from eating a small amount of a poisonous plant than a sickly, young or small chicken.
Can Chickens Eat Jasmine Raw?
Assuming it is a safe variety, yes, chickens can eat jasmine raw. In fact, they will probably enjoy the taste of the sweet-smelling flowers.
Can Chickens Eat Jasmine Cooked?
Yes, but there isn’t a good reason to cook jasmine prior to serving it to chickens. Raw is just fine.
Also, concerning the toxic varieties you must never assume that cooking will make them safe, as it often doesn’t. Many toxins can endure high temperatures without breaking down.
Never Feed Jasmine to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
On the subject of cooking jasmine, you should never feed chickens jasmine that has been prepared with or used as an ingredient in something that is bad for them.
Things like salt, sugar, butter, oils and so forth are all unhealthy for chickens in typical amounts present in human food.
While a tiny amount of any of these things probably won’t hurt your birds, it’s best to err on the side of caution and not give them jasmine that has been prepared with these ingredients.
Serious health complications like fatty liver, hypertension, salt poisoning and more can result, and at best they will just result in weight gain.
Beware of Pesticides and Herbicides on Wild Jasmine
This sounds like a lot to consider concerning jasmine, and it is, but there is yet more you’ll need to be aware of.
Any wild jasmine you find (or that is given to you by someone else) could be contaminated with harmful pesticides and herbicides.
Common chemicals in either category are harmful to birds, and they have a way of building up in their tissues over time.
This can potentially lead to all sorts of health problems, including organ damage, neurological problems and cancer.
If you grow your own jasmine, be sure to use only organic methods to protect your plants from pests.
If you cannot positively verify that wild jasmine is safe, it’s best to just steer clear and find something else for your chickens to nibble on.
How Often Can Chickens Have Jasmine?
Okay, assuming that the jasmine is totally safe for your chickens, they should still only partake of it sparingly as part of a complete and well-rounded diet. Too much of anything, even something healthy, can cause problems.
A general rule of thumb is that treats and supplements should only make up about 10% of your chicken’s diet.
This can be increased to 20% during molting season or when they are otherwise under stress, but no more than that. Most of their calorie intake should come from chicken feed.
Preparing Jasmine for Your Flock
The best way to give chickens jasmine (safe jasmine!) is to simply let them nibble on it whole and live.
If you have a lot of chickens, or if the plants are too big for them to eat easily, you can cut the stems into smaller pieces.
You can also dry jasmine and offer it to your chickens as a treat, either whole or mixed into their feed or some other food. Just be sure that it is completely dry before giving it to your flock!
Can Baby Chicks Have Jasmine, Too?
Baby chicks can nibble on very small amounts of most herbs, including jasmine, once they grow up a bit.
Around 6 weeks, perhaps older, is the right time to introduce small quantities of novel foods. Just be sure to keep an eye on them in case they have trouble digesting it.
Start with only a tiny bit, and see how they do before offering more.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.