Deworming the Flock

The Dogs are barking at a herd of axis deer and a cold front was blowing in as the chickens were making a meal of the squash.

i had read somewhere that organic squash or pumpkin seeds could be used to deworm chickens and that farmers regularly chucked whole split squash or pumpkins into the pen for their flock to eat in order to keep the worms at bay. I had a couple chickens that demonstrated trouble keeping on weight and i figured worms were probably the culprit. Their poops were also less formed than their feathered sisters who were making more solid healthy poops. I was eager to get Daisy well. Buttercup was a notoriously ill tempered and distrustful chicken that would not eat from my hand. I would focus on Daisy first and if it appeared to be a valid remedy i would find a way to get the medicine into Buttercup. For weeks i saved a handful of my seeds, cut them out of their shell, and invited Daisy into the house for a private feeding where she enjoyed the temperature regulated climate, fresh water, and ate seeds out of my hand. She did poop on the floor which i then cleaned thoroughly to keep her from transferring worms to the dogs (not sure if heart worm meds also cover other kinds of worms but not taking the chance). After a few weeks Daisy began to feel heavier and not quite so bony. She also wasn’t as starving every time i gave them scraps from the kitchen. I decided there must be some truth to the old theory. I wanted to give Buttercup the seeds as well, but she wasn’t as easy to separate from the flock for a visit to the house and a private feeding. She was the only chicken that was not fond of me. Her best bud had been the rooster that i had killed. Both tiny as chicks, they had spent a lot of time together, pushed away from the feed by the bigger chicks who also wouldn’t allow them to huddle for warmth. The rooster chick and Buttercup kept each other warm, and then i killed him. Buttercup has never liked me since. In my defense, the rooster tried to kill me non-stop for about 3 months before i killed him. Only when i was sure this behavior was permanent and also endangering the hens when i couldnt get them water in 110 degree weather because he was barring the door to the pen, did i decide to off him. The other hens who were used to him ripping out their feathers while he attempted to mount them and beating them into the dirt if they would not accept him when he wished to mount them had a complete personality change when the rooster was dispatched. They became much calmer and more friendly. They seemed less traumatized. Buttercup was not amongst this group. To this day she stares at me with beady little eyes and waits lurking around the edge of the hen house until my back is turned when she will run up and pinch at my clothing and legs with her sharp little beak, only to disappear when i turn. I let her be because she is the other hens’ sister. They are attached to her and have accepted her so she must stay, but she does not come in for a cuddle when the rest of them are sitting in my lap and about my knees. She is my angsty teenage loner, but probably the one that needs the dewormer the most. I decided trying to separate her from the flock would be a right comical disaster and the best thing to do was just deworm the whole lot of them. I put an extra organic squash in my delivery box last week and cut it into four sections which i dropped in their pen. Then i moved off. As suspected, all the chickens emerged (including Buttercup) and began pecking at the squash. They worked at it for a day and a half and ended up eating everything but a thin layer of peel. Daisy, who had developed a taste for the seeds during her private feedings in the house knew just what to do. The rest of them figured out pretty quick that squash was good to eat. I really enjoyed giving them something whole to work on. It was fun watching them occupied by the task. Food always tastes better when you have to work to get at it.

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