Conventional wisdom of the day tells us that if we own a farm with animals, we need to have a plan in place to regularly “worm” them. I recently received an email from an old friend who raises backyard chickens and she had noticed a problem with worms in her chickens. She, like myself and many others, tends to opt for natural remedies when it comes to caring for her flock and wanted some advice.
In general, backyard chickens are not in a situation that demands routine de-worming. They usually aren’t overcrowded and often have plenty of green things and weed seeds to range around and eat. Worms are more typically a problem in poultry kept in close proximity in abnormally high numbers, indoors or in a mercifully picked over chicken yard. However, just because you keep your chickens in poultry Shangri-La doesn’t mean that it won’t happen to you.
Garden for Chicken Health
Do you grow things in your garden that you intend to give directly to your chickens? We make room in our gardens to grow for the wild birds and animals that visit, for our farm animals, and for ourselves. Kitchen scraps are great chicken treats, but there are a few plants that you can grow with the intention of promoting health and, in this case, to expel worms if necessary.
- Garlic (Allium sativa): This can be given fresh and finely chopped or you can give dried flakes or powders. Whatever form you choose, you will want to treat with an equivalent amount of one to two cloves per hen per day for 10 days. If feeding garlic as a preventative measure, merely ensure it’s available and mixed in with their feed from time to time.
- Grated carrot (Daucus carota)
- Finely chopped onion (Allium cepa)
- Elder leaves (Sambuca canadensis)
- Wormwood (Artemisia absinthum)
- Rue (Ruta graveolens)
- Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
- Pumpkin seeds (Cucurbita pepita): We generally throw a pumpkin a day into our animal yards for a couple weeks in the fall. They enjoy all parts of squash and the seeds are a natural worm repellant.
- Cucumbers (Cucurbita longa): The seeds are the most valuable for de-worming, but tossing a few cucumbers to your chickens here and there throughout the summer can be a delicious snack with added benefit.
Sometimes worm prevention isn’t possible. If you are dealing with a worm problem in your flock that needs treatment, mix of one or two of the above herbs and chopped pumpkin seeds. Mixing in a bit of molasses not only ensures this treat is readily accepted, but it is a blood builder that can help move toxicity out of the birds’ bodies You don’t want to overuse molasses, as it can cause diarrhea, but getting things moving through the intestines while worming is obviously a benefit.
If you are a fan of diatomaceous earth, you could also add a bit of that to the mix and serve it in a feed pan once a day for 10 days.
Always follow up a de-worming treatment with a renewed commitment to a preventative diet. If you don’t feed your flock fresh, high-quality greens, while at the same time rotating them off the infected chicken yard, you will have a recurring worm problem that is more difficult to fix.