Many people are deciding that keeping backyard chickens is a great way to have fresh eggs in their kitchen all the time. It's a great idea because keeping chickens is pretty easy most of the time and the eggs taste much better than store bought eggs. One thing that most people don't think about though are internal parasites in chickens which if left unchecked, can be a real problem. Using natural or herbal chicken parasite remedies are very popular and many people try them before moving to the old chemical wormer standbys.
I personally don't know how effective natural or herbal chicken parasite remedies are at eliminating an existing parasitic worm infestation but I think they can be effectively used to help prevent infestations in the first place.
First, to help prevent parasitic infestations in your existing flock, quarantine any new birds that you buy for at least 30 days. Do not let them near your flock and take fecal samples to a local vet for testing. Treat these birds if you need to and make sure that the parasites are under control before you let them around your flock of chickens.
Second,if you think you have a parasitic worm infestation in your established flock, take fecal samples to your local vet to find out what types of parasites you have to treat for.
Whether you use natural or herbal chicken parasite remedies or chemical remedies, you have to remember that all parasites have a life cycle. Even if you manage to kill the adults with your first treatment, there will still be eggs inside your chickens that will hatch and start the cycle over again. The typical cycle of most parasites is 2 -8 weeks so be sure and treat more than once during this period of time. Then take more fecal samples to your vet to be sure that the parasitic worm load is under control.
There are some natural remedies that many people swear by. I still worm my birds once a year with chemical wormers but I do also use the more natural or herbal chicken parasite remedies throughout the year.
Garlic in your chicken's water is touted as being very effective at controlling internal parasites when used in conjunction with worm repelling plants like wormwood and mint. Pumpkin seeds that are chopped up or ground up are supposed to help control tapeworms in hens.
Effective pasture management is the only way to effectively control parasites on your land at the moment. The best way to keep chemicals out of your pastures is to rotate your chickens from field to field. That will allow the parasites to die when your chickens are not in these areas. Planting natural plants that help repel parasites can also be done. Wormwood is a decent sized bush and peppermint is a creeper. You chickens will use both as natural hiding places. They will also pick at the leaves and brush against these plants which will help get rid of internal and external parasites. Citronella or lemon grass grows in large clumps that have great smelling leaves. It is supposed to help keep flies, fleas and mites away.
Other plants that are recommended for your chicken areas are:
These are just some suggestions to help minimize the parasite load in your chickens. My belief if that natural or herbal chicken parasite remedies have their place in parasite control. These plants provide cover for my chickens, add color and scent to my yard and help fight the battle against chicken parasites. But, they only grow in the warm months so the rest of the year you are left without their parasite protections. For that reason, in my opinion, it still makes sense to ensure the health your chicken flock by using a chemical wormer once a year.