Diet and Worms


Mar 29, 2020
I'm new to raising chickens. I have 3 10week old pullets. I always have plenty of chick feed and fresh water for them in the coop, and they'll eat the feed in the morning and at night but they rarely go back to the coop to eat during the day. I keep a couple dishes of water out in a shady spot in the yard for them. They have the run of the yard during the day and eat whatever they like that they find, clover, my green bean plant's leaves :rolleyes:, and a ton of bugs. I heard eating a bunch of bugs is a good way for them to get worms. I read carrots and garlic can help prevent worms so I grated a clove of garlic, a small carrot, and some watermelon (they love watermelon). They had a really funny reaction and would wipe their beak after a bite but each went back for a couple more bites. I'm thinking they're not a fan of garlic.
Do any experienced chicken raisers have any diet advice for preventing worms? I keep their coop clean and we live in California so my yard is pretty dry, so really looking for diet advice? Thanks!

Lady of McCamley

Free Ranging
11 Years
Mar 19, 2011
NW Oregon
Okay...there are a lot of different philosophies about worms and poultry. I will attempt to answer your question in light of the "bigger" picture. Please be aware there is a "meds are necessary/when necessary" crowd and "never meds but only herbals or "natural" crowd. Generally as with most topics truth lies somewhere in the middle and requires deeper knowledge of the topic to sort through truths, half truths, and outright misinformation.

The short answer can *sometimes* reduce the load, if you are in a light load situation, and use foods that have proven to flush worms, but it will never "cure" or fully prevent them simply because of the life cycle of the worm parasite.

Field rotation (or clean up) is above and beyond the best prevention of worm build up. Most of us backyarders, however, live on small lots, so that is harder to do. Above all, the worm cycle requires build up in the soil. Birds, well, poop. Then scratch, eat stuff, and pick up the cysts in the soil left by other birds and other animals. Other than earthworms (which sometimes harbor gape worms), bugs are not the main source of worms for chickens. (Parasites are species specific, so they don't cross well from one species to another...a poultry worm needs to infect another poultry or closely related species). The usual is wild birds and critters tracking the poultry parasites from another field.

So if your field (backyard) is a first time field for poultry, already you likely have a low poultry worm load in the soil. If you have killing cold winters, that's another deterrent to worm build up in the soil. If you have a mild, temperate, wet, warm climate, then worms build up quicker in the soil.

The larger the flock...the more build up. You have a small flock, likely purchased as chicks form a feedstore (?). So chances are you are not going to see a rapid build up in the soil, unless you got them as older chicks from a farm...then you will be tracking in whatever build up was from that farm from the get go.

Now as to herbals and diet, the best I've read research, with actual studies, is pumpkin seeds, fresh garlic, cayenne pepper. You can make a mash of that and let them eat it once a week to help flush the worms. Now mind you those are LIVE worms which will be picked up by the next bird unless you are meticulous about changing your bedding. In time dirt paths and favorite spots will build up. It could take years in the right condition. Generally, I see about 2 years on fresh field before the first problem seems to arise (usually round worms).

At that time, it is my opinion, that you need to use "real" meds in order to knock back the worm population by actually killing the worms. Regular fecal testing can help you track the worm load. Some chicken owners have gotten good and doing their own fecal floats to save dollars. Some chicken owners simply begin to seasonally treat with med wormers to prevent build up, especially in larger flocks and small field rotation. I personally, after about 10 years of having chickens on the same plot of land, seasonally worm to keep my heavy clay soil in a warm, moist temperate climate from accumulating too much worm build up.

Lots of info, I know, for an anecdotal answer, but the whole idea of worm prevention is a field of study all in itself.

Keep your coops clean, your yard reasonably picked up, feed pumpkin seeds with enough garlic to smell garlicky and enough cayenee to look a bit rusty, then be watchful after about 2 years unless you see a bird become thin, pale combed, with loose diarrhea, usually the first symptoms of worms.

My experiences.

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