It’s quite convenient that fall decorations (like pumpkins and gourds) are natural chicken dewormers too! We’ve been keeping chickens for quite a few years now and have never had any issues with them having internal parasites, even though we don’t use commercial chemical wormers.
I believe one reason is that we always grow (and have a large number of volunteer) squash, pumpkin, melon, and gourds in the garden. And, we feed the extras to the chickens on a regular basis – there always seem to be more than we can consume.
Why Fall Decorations Are Natural Chicken Dewormers
It turns out that squash, melons, pumpkins, gourds, etc. are all Cucurbita (a genus in the gourd family of Cucurbitaceae), and that the seeds of vegetables from this family are coated with a substance (cucurbitacin), that’s a natural dewormer.
The substance paralyzes internal parasitic worms, and some sources recommend feeding these seeds to chickens free-choice for a week at least twice yearly, as a natural dewormer.
How We Use Fall Decorations For Deworming
We take a more relaxed approach with our chickens, and simply feed them the excess Curcubita from the garden throughout the year. In the summer, there are always excess zucchini, canteloupe, and watermelon that they love.
And we grow, cure, and store lots of winter squash (see Winter Squash: Harvesting, Curing and Storing). So in late winter and early spring, there are always a few in storage starting to go bad that we feed to the chickens.
We also grow lots of gourds and pumpkins for fall decorations, so once winter rolls around, there are many of them to feed to the chickens.
How To Feed Them To Chickens
We simply cut the vegetable in half and place the halves cut side up in the chicken pasture.
The chickens go crazy eating both the flesh and seeds. Because the seeds are a natural dewormer, there’s no withdrawal time (as there is with chemical dewormers) needed before eggs from the hens can be consumed.
Stock Up On Fall Decorations As Natural Dewormers
Pumpkins and gourds are plentiful in the fall, so even if you haven’t grown your own, it’s a great time to consider stocking up, curing, and storing some to feed your chickens. After Halloween, many stands selling gourds and pumpkins can’t wait to get rid of them.
The seeds of the larger members of the family have higher levels of the deworming substance, so that’s something to consider when selecting varieties for use or storage. Commonly found members of the family include pumpkin, winter squash, zucchini, watermelon, cantaloupe, gourds, cucumbers, and honeydew.
Farmers have been using them this way for hundreds of years to help keep their chickens healthy, the chickens love them, and they’re a nutritious and entertaining treat. This is one easy way to keep your chickens healthy and happy!