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
  • Kandy Back Agee

    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

  • Sometimes I add a little bit of canned pumpkin in my girls' occasional yogurt treat. When we carve pumpkins this year I will be sure to give them the gooey innards!

  • anybody have any ideas how to store whole pumpkins for maybe a mid nov or xmas teat any ideas?

    • 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!

    • Anonymous

      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.

    • Wow! Thank you for the fantastic tip. I love it!

    • 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.

  • I had no idea raw pumpkin seeds were so beneficial to chickens. Great info. I just know my chickens love them so I'm glad they are getting extra protection against worms!

  • I bet the eggs yolks get even more orange with all that delicious pumpkin. Lucky girls, lucky you!

  • Anonymous

    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.

  • 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.

  • Such a great reminder that I need to feed some fresh pumpkin to my flock! Glad to know that the seeds are so healthy for them. I love your description of the chicken TV….it is so true!!!

    • I love that you can relate to chicken T.V. I tell you it truly is the best reality t.v. show on these days 🙂

  • 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.

  • They love Lady Godiva squash, because the seeds are "naked" (no shell.)They're delicious, and I'm pretty grudging about sharing, so I'd recommend planting a lot of them!

    • How cool. I will definitely be on the lookout for those. Thank you for sharing. I had never heard of them before.

  • Thank you for linking up at the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week, Melissa! Your photography is always amazing (even of 'chunks and guts.' LOL!)

  • Pingback: To Worm or Not To Worm Backyard Chickens... - Tilly's Nest()