Both chickens kept for egg production and broilers can develop intestinal parasites, known as worms. While worms do not necessary signal death for the flock of chickens, they can negatively affect both quality of life and egg production. Typically, chickens acquire parasitic worms through contaminated living areas, but they can also become infected through their food supply, particularly if they are free-rangers and eat earthworms, snails or other backyard creatures. Parasitic worms live in your chicken’s intestinal tract where they can interfere with food absorption. Ridding your chickens of worms can be accomplished by conventional chemical means such as commercial dewormers, but some chicken owners wish to use a more natural approach.
Because the primary source of parasitic worm infestations is the chickens’ environment, take special care in maintaining their living space. If you are using a litter on the floor of their cage or coop, make sure that it is clean and dry. Ensure that the chicken population is not too large for the area in which they live. Because birds might be carriers of the parasitic worms, try to dissuade wild birds from encroaching on your chickens’ area. Also, chickens that do not receive adequate nutrition or fresh, clean water are more susceptible to parasitic worms, so keep them well fed with a fresh water supply.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
Diatomaceous earth (DE) contains the remains of microscopic organisms called diatoms, whose shells are composed primarily of silicon. The sharp edges of the diatoms’ shells destroy the worms in the chickens’ digestive systems through desiccation, which dries out the worm. To use DE to control or prevent parasitic worms, chickens need to ingest food-grade DE along with their feed. Check with your veterinarian to determine exact dosages.
Garlic powder can be sprinkled on feed or dissolved in water. Fresh garlic can also be chopped and mixed into feed. Excessive use of garlic might temporarily flavor eggs. Using garlic in conjunction with other remedies could yield better results. The University of Kentucky Extension Service recommends using both garlic and mint plants together for maximum results.
Similar to garlic, cayenne pepper can be used to help protect your flock against parasitic worms. The exact mechanism for why this works is not known, although a star ingredient in cayenne pepper is capsaicin, which is well known for its ability to improve body functions. Cayenne pepper is not as palatable to chickens as garlic, so you may have to adjust the mixture of cayenne pepper and feed until your chickens are comfortable. As with garlic, chicken eggs might have a slightly different flavor after the introduction of cayenne pepper into the chickens’ feed.