Pumpkin Seed, Cayenne, & Wormwood Deworming Treat For Backyard Chickens!

Pumpkin Seed, Cayenne, & Wormwood Deworming Treat For Backyard Chickens!

If your chickens have worms, it can seriously derail their egg laying.


Worms (aka freeloaders) rob your hens of vital nutrients while making it more difficult to pass manure, and generally just trash the insides of your chickens – so you gotta get rid of them (and it doesn’t hurt to be proactive).


Unfortunately, because chickens walk around without shoes and socks on, they’re likely to be exposed to parasites more than we like.


There’s not really a good wormer on the market for chickens, although Ivermectin is considered safe and it’s definitely effective against worms in dogs, horses, pigs, etc.


But the problem with wormers, aside from the fact that we don’t really have great dosages for chickens, is that they have withdrawal periods, meaning you can’t eat their eggs for about 30 days (unless you want to get a mouthful of Ivermectin. If that’s your thing, then by all means, go for it).

Have a hen that loves treats? (Who doesn’t?!)

Yes, my hens love mealworms!

For those trying to raise their chickens organically, then of course pharmaceutical wormers aren’t ideal.


That’s why I developed this fun treat with ingredients that might help your hens expel those nasty critters and hopefully prevent them in the future.


Now bear in mind that with many of these ingredients, their effectiveness is merely anecdotal; there’s not a TON of studies to show whether pumpkin seeds, pepper, or herbs will truly leave your hen’s insides squeaky clean of freeloaders.


But I put these things into the category of “can’t hurt, might help,” and at the bare minimum, your hens will have fun eating the seeds and gobbling down garlic.


And that’s always a good thing!


You should also remember that treats aren’t a meaningful replacement for a quality layer feed that’s formulated to ensure your fluffy butts get all the vitamins and minerals necessary.


Treats should comprise about 10% of your flock’s diet, so feed treats just a few times a week, or daily in small amounts. I feed my hens the recipe below about once a month (and of course I feed other treats in between time!)


Pumpkin Seed, Cayenne, & Wormwood Deworming Treat For Backyard Chickens


Pumpkin Seed & Cranberry Deworming Treat For Backyard Chickens


Ingredients (per chicken)

½ c raw shelled pumpkin seeds

2-3 freeze dried or fresh cranberries

1 tsp cayenne pepper

½ cup kale

1 tsp fresh garlic

¼ cup wormwood (buy here)

¼ cup sunflower seeds (optional)



Multiply amounts of ingredients based off the amount of chickens you have. Mix all ingredients together and serve as a treat. Be sure to use raw, unsalted, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.


Pumpkin seeds are a popular folk remedy for preventing and curing worms, although it’s not really been studied in chickens.


There was one study done in mice that showed extracts from pumpkin seeds reduced the worm load when fed in 8 grams of pumpkin per 1 kg of animal weight.  


There’s also been studies that showed pumpkin seed oil is good for the urinary tract in humans and might help against tapeworms.


At a bare minimum, chickens love pumpkin seeds, so they’ll enjoy gobbling them down. It’s also important to note that an all-seed diet can cause Vitamin A deficiency, which might cause bumblefoot, so don’t only feed your chickens seeds.


The other main ingredient in this recipe, the cayenne pepper, has long been purported to help humans and animals get rid of worms. The reasoning behind it is that the worms don’t like a chemical constituent in peppers – Capsaicin – and it causes them to detach from their hosts, and chickens can then poop the worms out. This breaks the lifecycle of the worms.


Again, evidence it works to expel worms in chickens is limited, although it has been studied in rats.


Wormwood has long been used as a remedy to prevent and treat worms since nearly as long as humans have been around.


During the middle ages, it was the go-to cure because worms find the herb bitter, and choose to not stick around.


It’s also the “active ingredient” in some herbal wormers you’ll find on the market.


Garlic is never a bad thing for chickens, and it’s been shown to help living creatures be healthier and have better immune systems. Parasites also object to the smell and spiciness of garlic, so it’s possible it’ll help your flock stay worm-free as well.


If you want to prevent worms in your chickens, making sure their surroundings are clean and moisture free is a good place to start. A healthy diet will help keep them in tip top condition so if they do get a parasite infestation, they have the energy to fight it off.


This treat is a great addition to any feeding plan out there, and you’re chickens will love it as much as mine do!

Have a hen who loves treats? (Who doesn’t?!)

Yes, my hens LOVE mealworms!


How To Infuse Oil With Herbs For Traditional Home Remedies

How To Infuse Oil With Herbs For Traditional Home Remedies

Wondering how to infuse oil with herbs? It’s really simple – and incredibly useful.


For millennia, humans have used herbs for all kinds of things – health, cooking, for religious purposes, keeping livestock healthy, and more. So, it’s nothing new to infuse oil with herbs for your own purposes.


And there’s a reason for our species dependency on our plant friends – herbs have natural properties in their essential oils that are useful for seasoning dinner and medicinal uses, such as calming an upset stomach.


When it comes to herbs, there’s various ways to use them such as eating or drinking them or applying topically – on yourself or your animals, including your backyard chickens.


To use herbs for things like cuts and scrapes, to promote healthy skin, as an anti-inflammatory, or more, you can apply the plants by themselves (there’s lot of traditional and historic records of humans using plants alone.)


OR you can infuse them in an oil, which makes the plants easier to spread over a large area and concentrates the natural chemical constituents of the plants.


How to infuse oil with herbs


You can also do other things with the infused oils, such as make lotions, salves, and more.


For your backyard chickens, using infused oils can be better than using the plants themselves. Chickens are less likely to pick at the oil and eat the plants, and it’s easier to keep oils on an animal that likes to run around and forage.


For complicated applications, such as open wounds, oil can make it easier to apply and “stick” the herbs, and get around folds of skin that might otherwise harbor bacteria.


Imagine trying to keep a bandage full of herbs on a hen! It CAN be done, but it’s just easier and better peace of mind with infused oils.


Infused oils also mean the essential oils of the plant – the part that helps the most – is more concentrated and bioavailable to your chickens.


In this article, I’m going to show you how to infuse oils with herbs…and we’ll use two GREAT medicinal herbs – comfrey (botanical name Symphytum uplandicum) and plantain (botanical name Plantago major).


Both have a long history of helping maintain healthy skin, regrow skin after injury, reduce pain from sprain, strains, and more.


Multiple studies have shown that comfrey aids in relieving pain from sprains and strains, and you can easily use oil infused with comfrey to make salves.


Now, there’s plantain the herb (botanical name Plantago major, also known as broadleaf plantain) and plantain the fruit (banana cultivars of the genus Musa) – they’re two different species of plants with nothing to do with each other. 


The plantain we’ll use in this recipe (Plantago major) is a traditional home remedy for insect bites and as an anti-inflammatory.


how to infuse oils with herbs

What oils should you use?

There’s lots of options here. The easiest oil to use is a high quality olive, although you can use sunflower, grapeseed (which has lots of antioxidants and vitamins), jojoba, coconut oil (fractionated or not) or any other oil you can imagine.


I would stay away from corn oil, which is likely to be impure and genetically modified, and anything with soy. I’m also not 100% sure how well peanut oil will work.


The key is to use a 100% pure, high-quality oil.


How to infuse oils with herbs

This is probably the simplest thing you’ll do all week. To get the benefits of the herbs in the oils, all you need to do is soak the herbs in your oil of choice.


I use mason jars to infuse oils with herbs because they’re easy to clean, keep on a shelf out of sunlight, and are readily available.


Place the herbs in the mason jar – for this recipe I used a 1:1 ratio of comfrey and plantain, about ½ a cup of each. For a pint mason jar, 1 cup of herbs total is what I use – that way, the oil soaks all the bits of plant and nothing molds or invites bacteria into the mixture.


As long as the herbs are covered in oil, they won’t mold, but if any air pockets remain, there’s the potential for them to rot.


Pour the oil over the herbs until the jar is full, then top with a mason jar lid.


Allow the mixture to infuse for up to 6 weeks. Realistically, you can do it for much longer than that, but you’ll want to use the mixture as fast as possible and in my experience, any longer than that has diminishing returns.


After 6 weeks, pour the mixture through a mesh strainer and into a clean mason jar to separate the oil from the herbs. Your infused oil is now ready for other recipes!


Depending on the herbs you’ve infused (calendula is one of my favorites!) you can also cook with this oil or use it as a salad dressing.


What herbs can you infuse oil with?

Pretty much any herb you want. A great alternative to plantain and comfrey are oregano and, as mentioned before, calendula and rose, which have great properties to promote healthy skin.

Bumblefoot in Chickens Is Easily Treatable

Bumblefoot in Chickens Is Easily Treatable

Bumblefoot is one of those backyard chicken diseases that’s pretty simple to understand and treat, although it definitely requires some first aid.


We’ve dealt with it a few times on our farm and it’s always been easily treatable. Funnily enough, I’ve noticed it always seem to start on the left foot first. I don’t know if that’s been every chicken owner’s experience though.


(They say animals, like people, are either right or left handed. I’ve always wondered if that has something to do with it.)



There’s a lot of information you’ll find on the Internet that makes bumblefoot out to be a huge, serious “life or death situation.”


Now, don’t get me wrong – any infection can turn into a life or death situation if not treated, and since chickens usually don’t let on about how sick they are until it’s too late, it’s safe to say that if you suspect your backyard chickens have bumblefoot, then you need to take care of it.

[brid autoplay=”true” video=”453681″ player=”19074″ title=”bumblefoot scaly leg mites backyard chickens” description=”Bumblefoot is one of those backyard chicken diseases that’s pretty simple to understand and treat, although it definitely requires some first aid.” duration=”2400″ uploaddate=”2019-08-21 17:21:38″ thumbnailurl=”//cdn.brid.tv/live/partners/14575/thumb/453681_t_1566408032.png”]

But as for bumblefoot being immediately life threatening…..well, we have not experienced that on our farm.


Like any disease out there, bumblefoot can effect your chickens at any time and any age, but particularly if they have a depressed immune system, if they’re very young or very old, or have any sort of condition that could potentially make the immune system not as strong as it would be, then they run a higher risk of bumblefoot becoming a bigger issue.


For healthy chickens however, it might not be the huge issue you read about on the interwebs.


In this article, we’ll cut through the drama, talk about what bumblefoot is, why it needs to be treated, treatment options (natural and pharmaceutical), and how you should approach this common backyard chicken issue.

What is bumblefoot?

For our definition of bumblefoot, we’ll refer to the Merck Veterinary Manual, which you can find for free on the Internet.


And I don’t see a lot of chicken bloggers actually looking at this book to understand what’s going on with their backyard chickens, but it’s a wealth of information about diseases and treatment paths.


“Bumblefoot” is the lay term for pododermatitis, and to sum up the Merck Veterinary Manual, it’s a Staphylococcus infection and localized abscess that occurs when backyard chickens get a skin injury such as a lesion. You may or may not see the lesion (it could be too small for the naked eye).


There’s a reason why shoes and socks are considered good hygiene for human beings and even for dogs and cats!


So, what does it look like?

Chickens with bumblefoot might have swellings on the pad of the foot, or the entire foot can look swollen and enlarged. It might look as simple as a slight redness to a bulbous-looking growth on the bottom of the chicken’s foot.


You might notice your chickens limping or hopping around on one foot because it’s difficult and painful to walk on a swollen foot filled with pus.


The swellings, called “bumbles” give the infection it’s colloquial name.


You’ll want to take care not to confuse bumblefoot with other issues such as frostbite and scaly leg mites, both of which can also cause your backyard chicken’s feet to swell.


While side-by-side it’s obvious which malady is effecting your chickens, it might not be so obvious for a new chicken owner.


Why does bumblefoot happen?

Typically bumblefoot happens because chickens get a Staphylococcus infection due to getting a small (or large) cut, getting something stuck in their foot like a splinter, piece of straw or hay, from chicken wire, or even roosting bars (don’t think this means you should get rid of your roosting bars, however.)


In rare cases, it also might be indicative of a vitamin A deficiency, especially if your chickens aren’t getting a balanced diet (you can give them a multivitamin if you’re worried).


Preventing bumblefoot

It can be hard to prevent bumblefoot because your chickens are walking outside without shoes and socks. By default, they’re more susceptible to infections and cuts on their feet.


However, making sure your chickens have a good diet and their bedding is adequate is a place to start. Eliminating sharp rocks or anything else that can cut them is another strategy.


How to help a chicken with bumblefoot

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, a chicken with bumblefoot likely has a staph infection and:


“Staphylococcosis can be successfully treated with antibiotics such as penicillin, erythromycin, lincomycin, and spectinomycin.”


If you think your chickens might have bumblefoot, you should consult a vet, who can give you dosage advice (even if they don’t know, they have a network of vets they can call for advice) and let you know if your chickens need some sort of treatment more extreme than medicine.


Many times, we’ve taken animals with some mysterious illness to the clinic, and the vet has been able to call this or that vet he knew from school or met at a convention and gotten an answer plus treatment advice in minutes.


Natural options

There are some natural options for bumblefoot, if you want to avoid pharmaceuticals, such as essential oils, honey, or green clay. I like using Young Living’s Animal Scents ointment, which promotes healthy skin.


If you use oils, you should always dilute it with a carrier oil such as almond or coconut oil. For more detail about using essential oils on your chickens, it’s best to email me.



Honey is another option because it has excellent and well-documented antibacterial properties (it’s used to treat burns and keep them from getting infected.)


Green clay

You don’t hear much about green clay in the backyard chicken community, but it’s a popular remedy for treating bumblefoot with parrot and parakeet owners.  (It’s not just chickens that get bumblefoot).


Keeping it wrapped

If your chicken has bumblefoot you’ll want to keep it wrapped and keep your hen or rooster in a place where you can observe it. If the wound is small, and your chicken isn’t very uncomfortable, you can let your chickens continue to wander around.


If it’s bad enough, the lump on your chickens foot might need to be opened up to drain. After, you should soak it in epsom salts, and dress the wound.


Should you do surgery to get rid of bumblefoot?

You might see advice online that if your chickens have bumblefoot, you should perform surgery to excise the infection. You should bear in mind that this advice calls for you to perform surgery without anesthetic in your own home.


While certainly there are times that the wound will need to be drained and dead tissue cut out, I think it’s irresponsible to tell owners of backyard chickens that this type of surgery is necessary and to perform it themselves.


If you read the Merck Veterinary Manual, their first course of treatment is not surgery. Therefore, it shouldn’t be your first choice as well, except in cases where a vet has advised you the infection needs to be drained.


Particularly if you’ve never done this type of surgery before, it’s advised to get the help of your local vet.


Even if you don’t have an avian vet in your area, a regular vet can still help since they will have experience with minor surgeries and can help your chickens be more comfortable. They’ll also give advice for follow up treatment afterwards.


Bumblefoot doesn’t have to be life threatening, or even greatly inconvenience your backyard chickens. Just remember that it’s an infection, and to treat it like one. Above all, if you’re not sure what to do, seek the advice of your local vet.

Vent Prolapse: How to Recognize & Treat Your Hen

Vent Prolapse: How to Recognize & Treat Your Hen

When your chicken has a vent prolapse, it can be startling and distressing – for you and the hen.

In this article, I invited Carrissa from Feather And Scale Farm to tell us about her experience treating vent prolapse.

Here’s Carrissa’s first-hand experience with vent prolapse with her hen Oreo, and how she handled it:

We started our farm with a flock of six chickens in our very urban backyard. Oreo, Ziggy, Henny Penny, Duchess and Bean were a gorgeous group of mixed breed hens and we adored them.

vent prolapse hen

When we decided to go away one weekend, our chicken sitter called us in a panic.

She said something was terribly wrong with Oreo, our Silver Laced Wyandotte hen. Her words were something along the lines of “her insides look like they’re coming out”.

We had her put Oreo in a crate separated from the flock and gave her instructions to keep the hen quiet and comfortable.

When we arrived home we looked Oreo over, and our sitter was right – it looked like her insides were coming out of her back end.

There was red exposed tissue that looked raw and completely unsettling to us as relatively new hen owners.

I quickly called my cousin/chicken mentor, and after sending her a photo, she gave me a crash course in vent prolapse.

What is a Vent Prolapse?

A vent prolapse is essentially a chicken’s insides coming out.

[Note from Maat: It’s totally normal for the vent to temporarily prolapse when laying – it’s definitely NOT normal for it to stay that way]

For a variety of reasons, the internal reproductive tract becomes loose and protrudes from the vent, making passing poop and eggs painful, and potentially deadly.

[Note from Maat: Click here to see a photo of a hen with a vent prolapse in the Merck Veterinary Manual]

What Causes a Vent Prolapse?

Vent prolapse can be caused by a variety of factors:

  • Diet – a lack of calcium and magnesium has been linked to vent prolapse
  • Weight – both being underweight or over weight can contribute to a vent prolapse
  • Age – a very young hen trying to pass a very large egg can lead to a vent prolapse. Older hens who have been heavy producers and have lost muscle tone are also prone to vent prolapse
  • Infection – often times a vent prolapse can be the result of an undetected abdominal or oviduct infection
  • Egg Size – Consistent oversized or misshapen eggs can weaken and damage muscle tissue leading to a vent prolapse

With the variety of causes that can lead a hen to have to a vent prolapse; the chances are good you may deal with at least one instance of this if you keep chickens.

Unfortunately not all of these causes are preventable – some people believe there is a genetic component as well.

That’s why it’s important to recognize when a prolapse is occurring, and be able to treat as soon as possible.

Identifying a Vent Prolapse

If the hen isn’t showing an extensive amount of exposed tissue, sometimes it can be hard to catch a vent prolapse when it’s starting. Know your flock.

Look for any behavioral changes or signs of distress with the hen, including a lack of appetite, lethargy, fluffing out feathers, lack of egg production, bloody eggs or being bullied by the other members of the flock.

If you gently turn the hen in question upside down, a quick visual inspection on her vent area will show you if there is any external tissue exposed. If you see exposed tissue, treat accordingly.

Treating a Vent Prolapse

Early treatment is the key to fixing a vent prolapse and preventing it from reoccurring.

Separate the hen from the rest of the flock. And enclosed dog crate works great for this, as you will want the affected hen to be somewhere dark with limited space for movement.

Wash the effected area. Prepare a nice warm bath for your hen. We add some iodine to help disinfect the area. Hold the hen gently with her back end in the warm bath. This will help to loosen any stuck feces and clean any abrasions to the tissue. It will also help hydrate and soften the loose tissue to help with reinsertion.

Manually push the tissue back into place. Wearing gloves, lubricate your fingers with a water based lubricant and gently push the protruding tissue back into the vent. It’s best to have someone hold the hen for you while you do this so you can have better control and be as slow and gentle as needed.

Treat the tissue. You will need to treat the swollen tissue to help shrink it down so it stays in place. Preparation H works great for this. Honey is also a great holistic way to treat this. I have also heard of sugar being used in a pinch. Whatever you choose, make sure to treat the affected tissue both internally and externally so your hen can recover fully.

Administer Antibiotics. If there is abrasion to the tissue and any chance of internal infection, you may want to administer antibiotics to assist with the healing processes [Note from Maat: consult a vet in your area for the best antibiotic and dose to give your hen.]

Vitamins and Calcium. Adding vitamins and calcium to the affected hen’s water while they’re in quarantine will help to provide good supportive care while they heal.

Prevent Egg Laying. Do your best to slow or stop the egg laying process. The best way to do this is to keep the hen in a dark crate, with minimal room to move around. Keeping them in a dark, quiet, restful place will help with the healing processes all around.

What if it Doesn’t Work?

By the time we had figured out what was wrong with Oreo, the prolapse had been getting worse for a few days. We treated the hen with everything we had.

We pushed the tissue back in place several times and tried to secure it with vet wrap. Unfortunately, nothing worked – the prolapse refused to go back in place.

Rather than allow her to continue suffering , we euthanized the hen ourselves. It was the first time we’d ever had to do something like that, and it’s stuck with us for a long time.

Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do, not matter how hard you try, and that’s difficult to accept.

On a more positive note, during a recent monthly flock inspection and parasite check, I happened to notice two of our Legbar hens had protruding tissue, indicating the start of a prolapse.

Luckily this time around I knew what I was dealing with and was able to take the steps necessary to prevent a major prolapse in each hen.

I am confident these hens will continue to lay and live out full lives in our flock, thanks to lessons we learned with Oreo.


Carrissa Larsen from Feather and Scale Farm is a chicken chasing, goat wrangling, avid homesteader and blogger from southern Maine. When she’s not tamping down the latest homesteading crisis she also enjoys feeding and watering her husband and two teenagers.

I’d like to hear from you!

Have you ever dealt with a vent prolapse? What did you do about it? Leave a comment below!