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a yard full of chickens
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How toxic is black locust? We have one beautiful black locust wild birds love to roost in. Im concerned about leaves or pods falling and the birds or livestock (when we get some) getting poisoned (I told the kids not to eat any pods). We have a woodpecker that pecks on the tree and is still alive.

How concerned should I be? If I cut off any sprouts and pick up fallen branches, will that be enough?

And can I use the leaves in my garden?
 

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Master Of My Domain
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i've never heard of any problems and we have had horses pastured in contact with black locust for nearly 40 years.
 

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a yard full of chickens
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you. I was starting to get freaked out reading the internet about black locust.
 

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Master Of My Domain
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well, who knows? we also have red maple and i do know that can be toxic to horses. i think a lot of the problems come in times of poor grazing... like in a drought when the pasture turns brown. i imagine any animal would start to get desperate and try eating things they shouldn't if they don't have easily accessible food.
 

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Perhaps you read about black walnut? I know that it is difficult to grow much of anything near one of those. I have also read that black walnut content in wood chip bedding will cause health problems for horses.
 

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Perhaps you read about black walnut? I know that it is difficult to grow much of anything near one of those. I have also read that black walnut content in wood chip bedding will cause health problems for horses.
Black Walnut - that's what I was thinking too. We always get the bedding for our horses at a local sawmill, and the owner always cuts black walnut separately and sells that sawdust to his non-horse-owning customers.
 

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Funny I was just reading some literature I had picked up at the county fair yesterday, and it mentioned that black locust was toxic, esp. the wilted leaves and the inner bark. On the other hand our goats 15-20 years ago cleared out a portion of our property by regularly girdling black locust trees of their bark, with no ill effects and for the last several years we have had our horses pastured in a field with several large locust trees, again with no ill effects. Perhaps the danger is if you have a pasture with a large outbreak of seedling size locust that livestock would browse down in large quantity?
 

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Many plants are labeled "toxic" to animals no matter the amount of toxicity.

Your best bet is to ask a vet.

I grew up with many locust trees around. I do not recall anyone or anything getting ill from them. It is bad to breathe in the sawdust when cutting though.

Black walnut (and its cousins, hickories and others) emit a chemical called juglone, which inhibits growth in many other plants.

The juglone is most prevalent in roots. There is little to worry about in leaf litter, expecially if it is composted. And every part of the walnut tree, except the nut meat tastes terrible to just about everything except rodents.
 

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I recently came to this forum (and to some others) and asked about what makes the wood last so long. Along the way, somebody (I'm pretty sure it was in this forum) gave me this link: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/theses/available/etd-11242003-154755/unrestricted/etd.pdf

In the link, it goes into great detail about the toxicity of the leaves, the bark, etc. for a variety of animals.

Now keep in mind that alfalfa is considered by a lot of texts to be toxic for ruminants - after all, it can bloat and kill. However, under the right conditions, and animal can thrive on the stuff.

Black locust contains a lot of tanins. It's throughout the plant! And, it seems that goats have a means of coping with those tanins pretty well.
 

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Also known as Jean
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I know that being stuck by the thorns can result in some painful wounds. My dad had a personal vendetta against the locust trees on his farm and insisted on cutting mainly those for his fire wood. When the thorns stuck his hands, arms, or legs he would be sore for quite a while. But I don't think there is anything TOXIC about the trees themselves. And the wood is pretty good for firewood.
 

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But I don't think there is anything TOXIC about the trees themselves. And the wood is pretty good for firewood.
No, it's true. Every part of the black locust is toxic in one way or another. However, it's not tannin but robin, robitin, and robinine. Those are exclusive to the Robinia family of trees.

Martin
 

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My sheep and horses LOVE the leaves of the Black Locust, and the horses are good at eating the bark off the trees in their pasture during the winter. We love the heat we get from these versatile trees in our wood stove!
 

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My sheep and horses LOVE the leaves of the Black Locust, and the horses are good at eating the bark off the trees in their pasture during the winter. We love the heat we get from these versatile trees in our wood stove!
Horses and sheep, like any other animal, learn from experience. If they get a belly ache from eating too much of something they like, they'll eat less of it next time.

Martin
 

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We try to keep black locust from spreading because of the thorns. And, you just can't cut them down because more sprout up from the roots.

I know there is a native praire preserve near my parent's farm and the caretakers struggle with tryign to keep a balance because a few black locust a great for wildlife - in particular bluebirds.
 

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I just finished reading "The Forager's Harvest : A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants" by Samuel Thayer. He claims that a lot of the older edible plant literature is incorrect and that some plants are stated to be toxic when if fact they are not. In this book he claims that Robinia pseudoacacia (or parts of it) is not toxic and goes about describing what parts he ate and also served to others.

In my own experience, I've tried to plant it on my own land and couldn't keep it alive because it was browsed to the ground by deer. I'd take a look at Thayer's book first before you made any conclusion about black locust.
Michael
 

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Master Of My Domain
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it a great wood to have around the homestead. it seems to work well with "the plan" in that it loves the sunny fencerows and can eventually be used to replace fence posts. it's great to stash a rank of locust for those coldest days of the winter as it burns very hot. it's normally ready to burn when the bark peels easily from a tree that is standing dead.
 

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a yard full of chickens
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks, all. I'll relax about my tree. It's beautiful and provides great habitat for the birds. A flock of doves likes to sit in it, then come down to eat under the birdfeeders. If an any branches fall, we'll be sure to save them for winter fires.

The thorny seedlings are nasty- I cleaned up a lot of them this fall.
 

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My kids have hooves
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...a few black locust a great for wildlife - in particular bluebirds.
Interesting. We have 6 or 7 old locusts in our yard and tons of bluebirds. I spent years trying to entice bluebirds to the yard in past houses, then we moved here and there are flocks of them!
 

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I have black locusts coming out of my ears. The previous owner years ago ringed many large locusts and they just fell over each other in a standing position so I got firewood for the next 20 years back there. I have to mow annually or they take over. They are a nice straight growing tree, they grow in any poor dirt, they are only second best to osage orange for firewood, they split so easy, and they are a pretty tree.
 
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