Saturday, 28 August 2010

Poison fruit - Grenadier

One of my lovely pullets, poisoned by rotten fruit.

We have inherited a large standard cooker in the new garden, almost certainly Grenadier. I've sometimes thought what a pity the fruit was always left to rot on the ground by our late elderly neighbour. We tried baking a couple of them but they were absolutely vile; even smothered in sugar, they tasted of neat vinegar. Even the wasps have barely touched the windfalls.
I'd been letting my small flock of new silkies range around the area. So many 'experts' exhort gardeners to let poultry free range under fruit trees, to clear pests and help clear up the windfalls, which were quite sparse to begin with but then started to drop in great numbers a fortnight ago. One morning I found one of my black pullets paralysed in the house. She was unable to walk, but had drooping wings. I brought her in, rehydrated her after which she brightened up but then started producing bright turquoise droppings (previous experience tells me this indicates poisoning). She be came increasingly more paralysed, head down and wings drooped, and died a couple of days later. I suspected botulism, but a one off instance wasn't enough evidence to be sure. A couple of days later her sister developed the same symptoms and declined very rapidly, and died within 12 hours of showing the first symptoms, which were classic ones of botulism poisoning. 
Examination of the ground under the Grenadier revealed many completely black, rotten fruits embedded in the ground, and quite a few that had turned completely brown. In poultry the usual source of botulism poisoning is rotting vegetable material, (birds are susceptible to a different form of the disease to that that affects humans).
So please don't let poultry free range among windfalls, rotting fruit is not a good food source for them and can be deadly. Pick up all rotting fruit and either burn or put in the re-cycling bags, most of the early windfalls will be infected with codling and be half-rotten inside before they even touch the ground.

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