Now if you or I ate about 25 green jalapeno chillies, we would be sore for a month. Not only would it burn your lips, throat, stomach, and the nether regions, it would burn if you rubbed your eyes, nose, and any other sensitive area of skin. You would think that this would be the same for most animals. But I did not take into account the remarkable consitiution of the humble backyard chicken!
You see, up until about 3 hours ago, I was the proud owner of two heavily laden jalapeno bushes, with chilies just about to go from green to black, then to firey red. This is what they look like now.
As you can see, picked clean. No chilies or leaves for that matter, only a few flowers up high! If it was not Teddy (in the background), then who was it?
Here is one of the culprits.
Esther the chili chomper! Her and her flock were helping me keep the cooch grass at bay, but decided on a more tasty morsel, being my chili bushes.
So how do they get away with eating a plant that would have us swollen and sore? I searched the interwebs and stumbled on this fact from New Scientist.
"Research reported in July 2001 suggests that the chilli's fiery taste deters creatures who are poor at dispersing the plant's seeds. Fortunately for the poultry industry, this does not include birds. Birds appear not to have the receptors to the hot pungent part of the peppers. It appears not to affect them in any way."
Not only does it not hurt them as I had first feared, it also kills some of the notorious food-poisoning bacterium Salmonella in their intestines.
"The reason chilies incorporate capsaicin in their fruits (and red/green peppers of course are fruits in a botanical sense, not vegetables) seems to be to ensure that their seeds are dispersed properly. When small birds consume the fruits of wild peppers the seeds pass through the gut undigested and, due to the birds' flight range, are deposited in distant places where they can grow with less competition. If the fruits were consumed by larger mammals the seeds would either be digested, or deposited much closer to the parent plant. Studies have shown that the seeds of wild peppers are in fact dispersed almost exclusively by birds."Natures way of ensuring the survival of the chili gene!
So the moral of the story is that if you have any prize winning chilies, then keep your beady eyed little hens away from them at all costs, or end up with a couple of twigs like I did. Talk about being peeved or what. I was going to make another batch of my hot chili chutney with those chilies. Now I can forget it completely.
Naughty chickens. At least they laid me four eggs before they destroyed the bush.
One of sustainable living's humorous moments. I am glad there are so many of them.