The Annual Return of the Great Pumpkin

October 1, 2012

Autumn is one of the girls’ favorite times of the year.  Fresh gourds and pumpkins are abundant and with a Chicken Momma that has a pumpkin collecting addiction this time of the year, there is never a shortage of delicious chunks and guts available to our girls.

It never fails.  Year to year, it always takes them a little while to remember how delicious this slimy, sticky, stringy, seeded mess can be.  The girls always start by nibbling up a stray seed or two.  Within no time, they are running around the chicken run with stringy clumped bits of pumpkin hanging from their mouths.  It is like a feeding frenzy in the shark tank.  It is great fun to watch. It is a comedy-thriller on my chicken T.V.  as I sit there with a warm coffee in hand, just watching the girls giddy with excitement. Sometimes they share bits between one another’s mouths like Lady and the Tramp.  Other times, they run around aimlessly seeking cover from another who is after their “find”. Little do they know, pumpkins are wonderful for the girls’ preventative health.

Did you know that over the last 50 years or so, medical studies in both humans and livestock shows that raw pumpkin seeds have been clinically proven to reduce the number of tapeworms present in the digestive tract? These seeds contain an amino acid called cucurbitacin that paralyzes the worms. This allows for the chickens to pass the worms in their poop. Because of the mechanism of action in regards to cucurbiticin, this treatment has been found is effective in all animals even humans.

If you do decide to share some pumpkins or their guts with your flock, be sure to provide them with plenty of grit to help breakdown and digest those seeds.  I hope you too, like me, enjoy watching a new program this Fall on your chicken t.v.!

More pumpkin reading and photos~  2011, 2010, My post for Community ChickensAuthor’s Note: Preventatives such as pumpkin seeds, cucumber seeds, squash seeds and diatmoceous earth have been proven to decrease and or prevent an increase in the load of worms present in an animal’s GI tract. However, as with any serious outbreak. The chicken keeper should investigate traditional treatments when worm loads are high. More on worming chickens here.

Further Evidence Based Studies in favor of cucurbiticin as an antihelmintic:

Delaware State University: OV. 1966. On the discovery of cucurbitin—a component of pumpkin seed with anthelmintic action. Med Parazitol (Mosk) 35:487–8Plotnikov AA et. al. 1972. Clinical trial or cucurbin (a preparation from pumpkin seeds) in cestadiasis. Med Parazitol (Mosk) 41(4): 407-411.Usefulness of pumpkin seeds combined with areca nut extract in community-based treatment of human taeniasis in northwest Sichuan Province, China.Li T, Ito A, Chen X, Long C, Okamoto M, Raoul F, Giraudoux P, Yanagida T, Nakao M, Sako Y, Xiao N, Craig PS.
Institute of Parasitic Diseases, Sichuan Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sichuan Province, People’s Republic of China.

Anthelmintic efficacy of pumpkin seed (Cucurbita pepo Linnaeus, 1753) on ostrich gastrointestinal nematodes in a semiarid region of Paraíba State, Brazil. Trop Anim Health Prod. 2012 Dec;45(1):123-7. doi: 10.1007/s11250-012-0182-5. Epub 2012 Jun 9.
Feitosa TF, Vilela VL, Athayde AC, Braga FR, Dantas ES, Vieira VD, de Melo LR.
Department of Veterinary Medicine, Federal University of Campina Grande, Avenida Universitária s/n, Patos, Paraíba, 58700-970, Brazil.

Ethnoveterinary medicines used to treat endoparasites and stomach problems in pigs and pets in British Columbia, Canada. Vet Parasitol. 2007 Sep 30;148(3-4):325-40. Epub 2007 Jul 12.
Lans C, Turner N, Khan T, Brauer G.Preclinical studies of cucurbita maxima (pumpkin seeds) a traditional intestinal antiparasitic in rural urban areas. Rev Gastroenterol Peru. 2004 Oct-Dec;24(4):323-7. Díaz Obregón D, Lloja Lozano L, Carbajal Zúñiga V.

Traditional antihelmintic, antiparasitic and repellent uses of plants in Central Italy
. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Dec 15;68(1-3):183-92. Guarrera PM.

Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest


Author/Blogger/Freelancer-Sharing adventures with backyard chickens, beekeeping, gardening, crafting, cooking and more.



26 thoughts on “The Annual Return of the Great Pumpkin”

  1. I was just thinking this morning that I had to check your blog for how to feed our girls pumpkin! You read my mind! Thanks

    • I would bet that you could quarter smaller ones and freeze them. I would thaw them out overnight and give them to the flock in the morning. What a great idea!

    • I have kept well cured pumpkins for up to one year (really!) by keeping them in a cool, dry corner, and rolling them to rest on a different side every few days.

    • We keep our pumpkins in the garage all winter long. If you're buying them, look for ones with a good strong stem, and see if you can pierce the skin easily with your fingernail. Stemless pumpkins and/or ones with soft rinds that cut under your nail will soon rot. Keep them in a cool, dark, dry place and they'll last the winter, but be sure they don't freeze! Once they freeze, they'll turn to mush when they thaw and you'll have to feed them quickly.

  2. For winter feeding of pumpkins, just pile them up and cover with a tarp. Put a frozen pumpkin in a bucket, in a warm place overnight, next day, a nice soupy pumpkin for the girls.

  3. I love the blog! although I do not have chickens as I am in a suburb that no longer allows it, I found your articles on pumpkin seeds wonderful! I am thinking that raw pumpkin seeds are good for dogs too (ground up of course) and added a little each day for a while might be great for dogs too as well as people…I will look into it….
    Anyway, I love your chickens, very sweet…

    • You are so sweet! Thank you so much. Yes, I do believe there is a ground up version of the pumpkin seeds for dogs. I am sure the answers is just a few mouse clicks away. Thank you for your lovely comment.

  4. I would never have thought of giving them pumpkin innards! Thanks for the tip, I'll save it from our carvings later in the month. In the meantime, I'll pick up some small ones from the farm down the road for treats this week.
    Debbie 🙂

    • I wouldn't either. My poor 9 year old gets nauseated just looking at them. Poor kiddo. I am sure your girls will love them. I'd love for you to link up a post to the blog hop this week of them and their pumpkins.

  5. Hi Melissa. I’m a little late to the table here, but I could do with some advice. The first time I fed my girls pumpkin scraps (beginning of this week), they enthusiastically dashed forward and got stuck into them. One of bigger birds was seen running off with into a corner with a lump of fibrous, stringy pulp and pips hanging out of her mouth. Next day I noticed that she was holding back and making very little effort to eat. I continued to watch her throughout the day, while I did some online research into why she was also seen dipping her head downwards from time to time. I concluded that the pumpkin pips must still be in her crop. I finally got to handle her last night and her crop felt a little on the spongy side, so I gently massaged it and up came some yellowish fluid. I have separated her today, to rest her, and will begin treating her for impacted/sour crop.
    My question is have you, or other readers, ever encountered this with any of your girls? I am almost convinced it has something to do with the fibrous pumpkin with seeds attached. She did charge off with a really sizable piece! This, coupled with long grass after the recent rain, is the probable cause for the crop impaction. An avian vet suggests giving her warm infused fennel tea to try and free the mass, but I have also heard that vegetable oil (or similar) is a good lubricant. Have you any ideas on other treatments to help my girl?

    • Oh no! I think that she definitely needs to pass things but if the crop is sour she will require medication from the vet. A tea might not help. Also, be sure she has plenty of access to grit to aid in the digestion. Worse case scenario, she might require crop surgery to empty it. More than likely it is not the pumpkin but the long grasses that are the culprit. They get wrapped around each other and form a ball in the crop that sometimes needs surgical removal. I sure hope that she feels better soon and please keep me posted on how she does.

      • Hi Melissa. Good news! My girl has now fully recovered after a couple of days rest inside our house. It turns out that she didn’t have a sour crop after all, but a mild respiratory condition which I managed to treat with VetRx and Colloidal Silver in her water. I kept her off food for the first 24 hours, but made sure she was ingesting water during this time. When I reintroduced her to her food, she wolfed it down. I fed her fermented grains and yogurt with the culture over which I sprinkled some additional probiotics. I continued with the Colloidal Silver in the water which can only be used for one hour at a time before it loses its benefits. Her recovery was speedy and remarkable, and she’s now very happily back outside bossing all the other girls around! Thank you so much for getting back to me as quickly as you did. Very much appreciated. 😀

  6. Just as a note to your North American readers…..please don’t just store your pumpkins for Halloween! You are missing out on one of nature’s wonderful, healing foods. Here on the other side of the world we tend to eat pumpkin year round, so if you really want to spoil yourself, come on, give roasted pumpkin a go. It’s to die for!! Best to keep the skin on it to keep in intact, and the skin btw, can also be eaten once roasted! Another great way of cooking this food from Heaven is by cutting it into slightly big pieces and steaming it. This keeps the goodness intact, instead of boiling it away. Once steamed, season and add a dollop of butter onto it, or mash it up with butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Promise, you won’t look back, in the culinary department! There are loads of recipes online on how to prepare pumpkin, so please don’t just keep it for holidays (such a waste) or pumpkin pie dessert. 😀

    • Hello there! Yes, Pumpkins make a great soup too and I do love to roast them. Over the past few years, I have seen the trend to start putting pumpkin in everything. Including Pumpkin flavored coffees here in the US. Pumpkins are so wonderful!

      • That’s really wonderful to hear. Thick pumpkin & potato soup is yummy, particularly if you chase it down with some lovely crusty bread. I think the kids in Aussieland are raised on pumpkins, because, like beetroot, it is always on their plates! My first solids were mashed pumpkin, potato and peas – back in the day – and I raised my daughter on the same diet. Conversely (and strangely) pumpkin pie has never really made it onto our tables over here, although some cafes do now serve it. I’m a total softie for pumpkin pie! 😉

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Sharing an inspired life from the New England seaside. Chickens, Bees, Gardens, Art and Yummy Goodness.