Oct 22, 2012

The Truth About Chickens, Pumpkin Seeds & Worms. PLUS Peeps' Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Pumpkins have NEVER been proven to be a 'natural dewormer' in chickens.
 Much confusion and controversy surround the subject of whether pumpkin seeds are a "natural dewormer" for chickens. I am always open to and interested in things that will help me keep my flock healthy. That having been said, I am not one inclined to accept claims that seem too good to be true at face value. I have researched the subject and have discovered that there is no evidence of pumpkin seeds being a general dewormer in chickens. My intention here is to share the information and sources with you so that you can form your own opinions based on facts, not simply what we might like to believe.
Pumpkin seeds, while tasty treats for chickens, have NOT been proven to be a natural de-wormer in chickens.
Backyard chicken-keepers are at a disadvantage in addressing internal parasites in their flocks because no studies have been done with either natural or chemical dewormers in chickens. According to The Chicken Vet, (m)ost worm medications have no claim for laying hens. As such, they won’t tell you how long not to eat the eggs after treatment like many antibiotics do. The reason is simple....the research has not been done. It literally costs millions of dollars to get label claims on medications verified to the satisfaction of licensing bodies. Because modern egg farms have essentially no worm infections, it is not cost effective to get the claim on the drug in question.”  That is also true of alternative/natural/non-manufactured/herbal remedies, including the ingestion of pumpkin seeds. The research simply has not been done to prove or disprove the effectiveness of pumpkin seeds as a preventative worming measure or treatment option in chickens.

There is, however, some literature on the use of pumpkin seeds as dewormers in test tubes, horses and, to a limited degree, in humans.
Let’s take a look at some of that literature to get a better understanding of what the pumpkin seeds claims and conclusions are given the data available.   

Pumpkins are one variety of the Curcurbita plant family, others include: autumn squash, summer squash, and butternut squash. “[R]esearchers have shown that an ingredient in curcurbita seeds- an unusual amino acid called curcurbitin found only in certain species- kills worms in the test tube. In adequate doses this substance is also believed to paralyze worms in a person’s intestines, enabling the body to flush them out naturally. Tapeworms and roundworms in particular are susceptible.   Getting a high enough concentration of the herb to expel worms can be challenging, however, partly because the concentration of curcurbitin varies widely among Curcurbita plants. The concentration of curcurbitin in Curcurbitapepo (pumpkin) can range as much as five percent. Such variations may explain why some investigators have declared the herb ineffective for intestinal worms; there may not have been enough curcurbitin in their samples,or possibly in the variety they were testing. In fact, no one seems quite sure how many curcurbita seeds (or how much curcurbitin) it takes to vanquish worms.These unknowns make it difficult to endorse or dismiss this traditional remedy. Studies on the effectiveness and safety of this substance are conflicting, or there are not enough studies to draw a conclusion.”1

Another article, Dewormer Adjuncts, Control Without, or Along With, Chemicals, written by Karen Briggs and three veterinarians for TheHorse.com essentially echoes the findings of the Pierce publication cited above. This article reviews possible strategies for reducing the risk of parasite transmission in horses. One of the conclusions reached is as follows: “Pumpkin seeds have been used as an herbal remedy for treating parasite infections in horses because the seeds contain the amino acid cucurbitin, which many herbalists consider to be a natural anthelmintic. However, the efficacy of organic/herbal dewormers has never been demonstrated in formal, controlled studies.” 2
My flock of chickens and the fruits of their daily labors. My flock has never had a worm infestation.
Each chicken-keeper should form their own opinions based on facts. Beware of the argument “I feed my chickens pumpkin seeds and they have never had worms therefore, pumpkin seeds are an effective, natural dewormer.” That proposition is flawed and unsupported by any evidence. My healthy flock has never had problems with worms either and I do not routinely feed them pumpkin seeds. Those are both coincidences, not evidence of anything.

Taking all of the research into consideration, my conclusions are:  

1. Since there is no scientific evidence anywhere to suggest that curcurbitin is capable of deworming or reducing the worm load in chickens, I will not rely on pumpkin seeds as a preventative measure or as a treatment option for worm infestations in my flock should it ever be necessary.

2. Since my chickens enjoy pumpkins, I will feed them pumpkins and make them Peeps' Pumpkin Pie while we eagerly await studies of curcurbitin use in chickens.

If you suspect your birds may have a worm overload, have a fecal float test done by a vet to rule out worms. The test is relatively inexpensive and all vets perform them for dogs, etc. If the test is positive for an infestation, discuss the treatment options with your vet.

Sources:

My chickens love pumpkins, so whether or not there are any intestinal benefits, they will be treated with this nutritious snack because they enjoy it. Here is my recipe for Peeps' Pumpkin Pie; I hope you try it and that your flock enjoys it as much as mine does!
My chickens love pumpkins, which are nutritious, but have never been proven to be a natural dewormer in chickens.
Peeps' Pumpkin Pie
(The measurements are only a rough guideline.)
3 cups raw pumpkin flesh & seeds, ground in a food processor or blender
2 cups old fashioned oats or steel cut oats
1/2 cup of any Omega 3 feed supplement
1 cup applesauce
a dash of cinnamon
a drizzle of molasses (go easy on the molasses, it's a laxative!)
Pumpkin seeds in food processor for Peeps' Pumpkin Pie recipe
Ingredients for Peeps Pumpkin Pie for my chickens.
Combine well and serve to grateful, feathered friends.  It looks good enough to eat, doesn't it?
Peeps' Pumpkin Pie for my chickens.
Freeze in ice cube trays or plastic containers for nutritious, winter boredom-busters! 
My flock of chickens enjoying Peeps' Pumpkin Pie.
Chickens enjoying Peeps' Pumpkin Pie.
The Truth About Chickens, Pumpkin Seeds & Worms.
Disclaimer The-Chicken-Chick.com


Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick®




122 comments :

  1. <3 it! Now I know what to do with all the pumpkin guts we dig out!

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  2. Another great article - thanks so much!

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  3. Great article! VERY informative. I will be making my girls a Peeps' Pie for Thanksgiving this year. Wonder if the ducks will be interested in it too.... :)

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  4. I love how you present the information in such a balanced way. I had read several opinions, most of which were anecdotal, and figured pumpkin seeds couldn't hurt. Plus, everyone likes 'em, so they get rotated in as treats. Good post, as always!

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  5. Mary@Back to the Basics!10/22/12, 11:24 AM

    Fantastic information! I'll have to share with my sister since she just picked up a few chickens.

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  6. Thanks for the info! Can't wait to give our chickens some "peeps pumpkin pie" and just some pumpkin waste after we carve!

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  7. TheChickenChick10/22/12, 11:37 AM

    Thanks Coco!

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  8. TheChickenChick10/22/12, 11:37 AM

    My pleasure, thanks for the feedback. :)

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  9. TheChickenChick10/22/12, 11:38 AM

    My pleasure, Ronda. Let me know how your flock likes it!

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  10. TheChickenChick10/22/12, 11:38 AM

    Thank you Mary. I hope she shares eggs with you in return. :)

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  11. TheChickenChick10/22/12, 11:39 AM

    Thank you, Christina. I'm sure the ducks will appreciate it too!

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  12. Great info. Thanks so much for clearing this up and for that recipe. Looks like your chickens loved it!

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  13. I love that last photo of the eggs with the chickens behind them - lovely! Someday I want my own flock of chickens - if I ever live in the country! I'm sending a link to your blog to a friend who DOES have chickens, actually a couple friends!

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  14. Love the facts in your article! It has sprung my curiosity on the true effectiveness (if any) of my black walnut tincture as a dewormer. I have fed our chickens pumpkins for quite sometime, moreso because they are used to getting all of our garden scraps, than because I heard it is a possible dewormer. I think it is a good day to sit down with my herb books and delve more into the black walnut subject. Great blog post!

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  15. Recipe looks good enough to eat! We have been feeding pumpkins to our goats for years, guess it really doesn't matter if it truelly is a dewormer, they all love it!

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  16. Linda McHenry10/22/12, 12:31 PM

    Our girls looooove Happy Hen meal worms.

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  17. I can't wait to make that for my flock! I've just been breaking open a pumpkin and giving it to them. Thanks! My chickens LOVE Happy Hen Treats!

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  18. "My chickens LOVE Happy Hen Treats!" I would love to add this to my chicken collection! great article, i can't wait to get a few pumpkins!

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  19. My chickens (will) LOVE Happy Hen Treats!

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  20. My hens AND DUCKS really do LOVE Happy Hen mealworm treats! They'd follow me anywhere for them! LOL


    You know...that concoction DOES look good enough to eat...bake as a muffin or cookie! LOL

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  21. My chickens have not had Happy Hens treats but I'm sure they would love to try them!

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  22. Rolled Up Pretty10/22/12, 1:09 PM

    I would love to have my own chickens! :)

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  23. My chickens love Happy Hen Treats!!!

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  24. H-D Farmgirl10/22/12, 1:27 PM

    My feathered kids at one time LOVED Happy Hens treats, But then I made mistake of buying them live ones :( So they are on meal worm withholding to try to get them back into loving the non squirming variety.

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  25. True statement..."My chickens LOVE Happy Hen Treats!"
    They go absolutely crazy over them!!!

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  26. Thanks for the great info. Can't wait to treat the girls and boys with peeps pumpkin pie!

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  27. I guess it's worth a try. I think I'll try the peeps pumpkin pie. Thanks

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  28. My chickens LOVE Happy Hen Treats!

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  29. My chickens would LOVE to try Happy hen Treats!

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  30. My guess is that my hens would LOVE Happy Hen treats!

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  31. I learn so much from your site. Thanks!

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  32. Melinda Smith10/22/12, 3:26 PM

    Happy Hen treats = TOTAL chicken crack for my girls. They absolutely adore these treats. I actually have several that will jump for their little worms.

    The pumpkin recipes sounds wonderful - I will definitely give it a try for my spoiled girls. They need some new goodies added into their diet!! Very seasonal!!

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  33. I am sure my chickens would LOVE Happy Hen Treats sprinkled over Peep's Pumpkin Pie! (I know this isn't your Facebook page, but I couldn't resist....... Just like my chickens couldn't resist those Happy Hen Treats!) [extra credit for a two for?]

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  34. "My chickens LOVE Happy Hen Treats!" :)

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  35. I'd love to give my flock the opportunity to try Happy Hen Treats!!

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  36. I heard about Happy Hen Treats right here on this page! The other day, I was at a Tractor Supply store, saw them, & grabbed a container of the meal worms.

    I can say, without a doubt, that:


    "My chickens LOVE Happy Hen Treats!"

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  37. My chickens LOVE Happy Hen Treats. They go crazy over mealworms

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  38. I'm sure my chickens would love Happy Hen Treats, especially during the winter. My chickens also love pumpkins (they've eaten two whole so far this year). They also get the seeds out of all of the squash that we cook because they love them and the possibility of the seeds aiding their health.

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  39. I am certain my chickens would LOVE Happy Hen Treats!

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  40. I have learned more from you about living with chickens, than from any other! You just rock! on FB and in my email!

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  41. my chickens love Happy Hen Treats!

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  42. Absolutely love your blog. It is full of so much info. I am definatly gonna make my girls this delicious recipe. I love reading and following your blog and your Facebook. I love the info and the pics. Good job and keep it up we all look forward to it!
    Thanks a lot,
    Misty

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  43. Absolutely love your blog. It is full of so much info. I am definatly gonna make my girls this delicious recipe. I love reading and following your blog and your Facebook. I love the info and the pics. Good job and keep it up we all look forward to it!
    Thanks a lot,
    Misty

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  44. Seems as though my comments on your blog posts are never approved? Must be a glitch in the process somewhere :)

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  45. Awesome article. My chickens would love to try Happy Hen Treats.

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  46. My chickens love happy hen treats & it's my wedding anniversary

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  47. My chickens love happy hen treats & it's my wedding anniversary

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  48. Interesting! My chickens love pumpkins and squash, too.

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  49. My daughter's chickens and my dad's chickens love, love, Love Happy Hen treats!!!! And April, my daughter will love making this special treat above for her flock!! TY!!

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  50. TheChickenChick10/22/12, 9:24 PM

    I see your comment, Kelly. Perhaps you need to change browsers?

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  51. Whenever I shake the jar of Happy Hen Treats..it's like a little stampede to get to them..they absolutely love Happy Hen Treats!!!!!

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  52. TheChickenChick10/22/12, 10:49 PM

    Funny! Chickens are much smarter than people give them credit for!

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  53. Going to try the pumpkin seeds. My girls go crazy for Happy Hen Treats.

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  54. I have never tried any of these treats for my girls but I sure would love to give them a try.  And I am sure my girls would love to get them!

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  55. Esther Widgren10/23/12, 1:24 AM

    My chickens LOVE Happy Hen Treats!And I'm gonna make them some Pumpkin pie filling to boot! 

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  56. My chickens LOVE Happy Hen Treats...

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  57. "My chickens LOVE Happy Hen Treats!"  They do!  They really do!
    Thank you for this neat Treat Package!  Good luck to all!  Jean

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  58. Pamela Poole10/23/12, 10:12 AM

    My girls DO love Happy Hen treats!  My crossbeak can't eat them whole so I crumble them up and mix with her crumbles and she goes CRAZY!

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  59. Melody Lange10/23/12, 10:18 AM

    My chickens would love these.  Thanks for the info, I'm going to try to make the peeps' pumpkin pie later this week after the kids carve their pumpkins.

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  60. I have 60 chickens and some guineas.  My chickens LOVE Happy Hen Treats!

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  61. I would love to win. I do give my girls meal worms regularly. I started growing them myself. It's always an effective bribe to get them into their run if I need to leave my house.

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  62. My Lovely Chicken ladies would love some Happy Hen Treats

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  63. If I win I'll be able to say,  "My chickens LOVE Happy Hen Treats!"

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  64. Williamson300410/23/12, 6:42 PM

    My girls would LOVE some Happy Hen Treats.

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  65. My girls would love some happy hen treats.. esp with a Wisconsin winter coming our way.

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  66. Martha Conway10/23/12, 6:47 PM

    We don't give our chickens extra treats too often. We think treats are tomatoes and apples. We are learning as we go but sure do love the eggs that we are rewarded with. Thanks for all you do to help us take better care of our girls! 
    "My chickens LOVE Happy Hen Treats!"

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  67. "My chickens LOVE Happy Hen Treats!" They go absolutely NUTS!!! for these worms.

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  68. I have fed pumpkin seeds to my chickens for years even before I learned that they helped with worming poultry. The chicks love them! Why have I not thought to put them in the food processer is beyond me. Some of the smaller chicks had trouble with the lerger seeds... great idea to food process them....

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  69. Oh nuts I forgot to say .. my hens Love Happy Hen treats!

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  70. I have no trouble getting my girls to go in at night all I have to do is get out the Happy Hen and yell "Here girls Here girls"  shake the container and they will knock me over to get in.  Love me some Happy Hen Treats

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  71. TheChickenChick10/23/12, 6:58 PM

    Terese: the point of this article is to say that there is no proof that pumpkin seeds have any effect on intestinal worms at all.

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  72. Robert Penland10/23/12, 6:58 PM

    Our girls love digging seeds out of a broken open pumpkin. It's good to know it may be good for them too.

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  73. Thanks so much, your articles are most helpful.  I have seven young hens (8 months old) who are so much fun and laying beautiful eggs.  They love treats of all kinds, but I'm sure they'd especially like Happy Hen Treats! 

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  74. My chickens love happy hen treats

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  75. Cacklefruitcake10/23/12, 7:27 PM

    I've always put apple cider vinegar in their water and, having chickens for 16 yrs, haven't had much trouble with parasites...  
    "My chickens LOVE Happy Hen Treats!"

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  76. Elizabeth C.10/23/12, 7:50 PM

    I was told that pumpkin seeds could aggravate appendix issues in humans...any idea on that one? Would love to try some treats for the girls...maybe they would start laying. :P

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  77. Christine West10/23/12, 7:55 PM

    My chickens LOVE Happy Hen Treats! As a first time flock owner I find it important to feed as much healthy and beneficial foods as possible. As such my chicks get lots of fresh veggies and meal worms as passable. With the holidays around the corner pumpkin has been added to their diet as it is in season. We always have a bucket of meal worms for treats, molts and broody chicks. I am not sure if I am doing things right or just spoiling my chicks...lol     

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  78. My chickens love happy hen treats and I am going to make the pumpkin treat and give it to the hens tonarrow can not wait to see their reaction! Thankyou

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  79. My chickens LOVE pumpkins and I can't wait to try your Peep's Pumpkin Pie mix!

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  80. My chickens LOVE pumpkins so I can't wait to try your Peeps Pumpkin Pie mixture!!!

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  81. My hens love Happy Hen treats!

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  82. All our girls, both the 4 legged and the 2 legged, love pumpkins!
    And, My chickens LOVE Happy Hen Treats! Bugs and seeds make for happy hens!

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  83. TheChickenChick10/23/12, 9:20 PM

    Interesting, Elizabeth. I haven't read anything to that effect.

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  84. TheChickenChick10/23/12, 9:21 PM

    Thanks Coco!

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  85. TheChickenChick10/23/12, 9:22 PM

    Good thinking, hopefully she'll reward you with fresh eggs in return! LOL
    Thank you for stopping by!

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  86. TheChickenChick10/23/12, 9:22 PM

    Thank you and they did! I had to be pretty quick with the camera!

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  87. TheChickenChick10/23/12, 9:23 PM

    Thank you Jill! You don't have to live in the country to have chickens though. (do your friends try to lure you into the hobby too? LOL)

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  88. TheChickenChick10/23/12, 9:24 PM

    Doesn't it? It smelled really good too! LOL 

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  89. TheChickenChick10/23/12, 9:25 PM

    Congratulations, Deb! You have won the Happy Hen Treats Prize Package!
    Please email me with your address:   Kathy@The-Chicken-Chick.com 

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  90. TheChickenChick10/23/12, 9:40 PM

    Doesn't it, Jessy?! A little flour, some leavening, a few eggs, and BLAM, dessert!

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  91. TheChickenChick10/23/12, 9:40 PM

    They are such interesting and entertaining pets!

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  92. TheChickenChick10/23/12, 9:40 PM

    LOL! Spoiled!!

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  93. TheChickenChick10/23/12, 9:41 PM

    Thank you, Theresa. I hope it helps!

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  94. TheChickenChick10/23/12, 9:42 PM

    Cool! Tell your peeps I said "you're welcome!" LOL!!

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  95. TheChickenChick10/23/12, 9:42 PM

    Thank you Tiffany, I hope it helps!

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  96. TheChickenChick10/23/12, 9:44 PM

    Sounds like you're doing everything right, Martha! Keep up the good work. :)

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  97. TheChickenChick10/23/12, 9:46 PM

    It sounds like you're doing things right with a dash of spoiling your chickens thrown in! LOL  Just remember: everything in moderation, even healthy treats can interfere with the balanced nutrition they need.

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  98. I've got a pumpkin on the porch right now that is destined for a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.  I'll be "sharing" it with my buff orpingtons when I clean it out. Thanks for dharing the info at the Wicked Good Wednesday Blog Party at http://www.wildernesswife.com

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  99. "I voted for Happy Hens today!"

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  100. My girls love raw pumpkin so they simply went bazerk when I gave them some of your Peeps Pumpkin Pie mixture! I thank you but they REALLY thank you!!!

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  101. TheChickenChick12/5/12, 8:09 PM

    Thanks for letting me know they enjoyed it! :)

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  102. I was here to get your pumpkin recipe and reading through your comments. So do you worm your laying hens? I haven't since they were young, I don't see any signs of worms although I have a few that are thin through the breast meat and I was told that could be a sign of worms.

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  103. TheChickenChick5/20/13, 9:33 PM

    I have never de-wormed my chickens and would never de-worm them unless a fecal float test from my vet proved there was a worm overload. I do not feel it's right to medicate my flock unnecessarily.

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  104. I think it's ggreat that you provided the information that you found when you researched. People go off all half cocked all the time when they read stuff like this and then don't bother to do the research. I'm like you- I want to see what's out there before jumping on a bandwagon!

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  105. TheChickenChick8/18/13, 10:13 PM

    Right on! Knowledge is power and ignorance is dangerous.

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  106. I have a worm question... I am struggling to get my chickens to drink the worming 'medicine'. I have 2 chickens and one is probably half the weight of the other. Is this normal? Or could one of my chickens have worms? She seems healthy otherwise.

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  107. TheChickenChick8/21/13, 4:58 PM

    Bring droppings samples to your vet and have them do a float test to see whether any of them have worms. If one has it, they should all be treated.

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  108. Tammi Boros Marlow9/21/13, 11:39 AM

    I'll have to see if MIL planted pumpkins this year. Would butternut squash be a close second? I'm sure my chicks would love happy hen treats if they got them.

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  109. Dawn Bitsky Indpendent Represe9/21/13, 11:46 AM

    My ladies love pumpkins so much, it's a BIG problem- they annually eat my daughter's carefully carved jack-o-lanterns! Doesn't make for a happy 6yo! ;)

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  110. Kelly Kanedy Schwindt9/21/13, 12:34 PM

    Quick question about the pumpkin seeds....do you give them to them whole or chop them up? Thank you!

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  111. Melanie Ray Schave9/21/13, 12:51 PM

    Ooh, now I have to make my chickies pumpkin pie, great idea!

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  112. Cindy Boyer9/21/13, 1:08 PM

    can't wait to serve up Peep Pie!

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  113. TheChickenChick9/21/13, 1:23 PM

    Either way is fine.

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  114. TheChickenChick9/21/13, 1:23 PM

    LOL!

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  115. How much of each ingredient in Peep's Pumpkin Pie?

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  116. TheChickenChick10/15/13, 11:52 PM

    It's not a precise recipe, just use what looks good to you.

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  117. Anjuli Mills10/28/13, 9:57 AM

    I am pretty sure my girls have worms :-( i've read in other posts that you you've treated your girls with ivermectin, but i can't find it for chickens....how would i go about doing this properly?

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  118. Anjuli Mills10/28/13, 10:03 AM

    I should add that my girls are 7 weeks old today, don't know if that matters

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  119. TheChickenChick10/28/13, 8:09 PM

    I would NEVER use a wormer on a chicken that old, particularly without having a fecal float test performed by a vet. Bring a droppings sample to your vet for a diagnosis and they can recommend a treatment IF necessary.

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  120. Haven't yet tried Happy Hen Treats but I have made Chock-a-Block and now I will have to make pumpkin pie for chicks with this recipe, instead of just breaking open the pumpkins for the girls!

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  121. Christina Riostirado11/9/13, 7:09 PM

    We are first time chicken owners and I know our chickens are super spoiled. They get some kind of fresh produce every day. We are just getting ready to give them our pumpkins as we didnt carve them we just decorated them so we could give them to the chickens after we were done with them!!! They also love squash and watermelon!

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  122. Good post, This post clears my view about transmission flush Rochester NY.

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