Chickens Health Issues Stories from Our Nest

The Annual Return of the Great Pumpkin

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

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