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.
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.!
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Further Reading for inquiring minds:
Delaware State University: http://www.desu.edu/sites/default/files/Pumpkin%20Seeds-Worms_DJO.pdf
Rybaltovskii OV. 1966. On the discovery of cucurbitin—a component of pumpkin seed with anthelmintic action. Med Parazitol (Mosk) 35:487–8
Plotnikov AA et. al. 1972. Clinical trial or cucurbin (a preparation from pumpkin seeds) in cestadiasis. Med Parazitol (Mosk) 41(4): 407-411.