The Problem With Pumpkin Seeds

Published on Tue, 12/29/2015 - 1:09pm

When wisdom may be wrong

By Andy Schneider, aka The Chicken Whisperer

Every fall, chicken blogs and forums are flooded with posts about pumpkin seeds being an all-natural dewormer for chickens. You don’t see the posts as much the rest of the year, but because pumpkins are so readily available during the holiday season, the posts become almost viral. The only problem is that there are no studies to support this information.

The issue is not about giving pumpkin flesh or pumpkin seeds to your chickens—they will likely enjoy the seasonal treat—but instead that readers will take this information as proven fact and think they are actually deworming their flock, when in fact, they aren't.

When the treatment doesn't treat

Whenever a chicken keeper posts “How do I deworm my chickens?” or “Should I deworm my chickens?” on a blog or forum, you can almost predict the coming comments from other chicken keepers. Inevitably, someone will post that pumpkin seeds are an all-natural dewormer as if it’s proven scientific fact. When questioned and asked for some kind of proof, nine times out of ten their answer is, “I give pumpkin seeds to my flock and they don’t have worms.”

The usual follow-up question is "Have you ever had your chickens tested to prove it?" That typically places them on the defensive—and the name-calling begins—when all I have requested is some proof to support their statement. Soon after, they rush to Google to search for a study they can find that may prove their point. The giveaway is that the first study they often refer to is a well-known Delaware State University study about goats and other ruminants. It’s apparent that they haven't read the complete study because they would have found that, while the goats did actually expel some worms during the study, they still had worms after treatment. Not to mention—at least the last time I checked—chickens are not goats or ruminants.

Proving a point

At a minimum, In order to prove that pumpkin seeds are in fact an all-natural dewormer, you need to show that you started with chickens that are indeed infested, the types of worm (or worms) infecting the chickens, the variety and amount of pumpkin seeds used, how long they were administered, the method used to ensure that each chicken received the same dose, and, finally, a test demonstrating that the chickens are worm-free.

While there may be a study in the back of a file cabinet in some university somewhere that proves that pumpkin seeds are an effective all-natural dewormer for chickens, these studies first need to see the light of day, and then be replicated by other, independent studies before the information can be accepted as true.

Additional misinformation

Another frequently-found piece of deworming misinformation found online concerns the egg withdrawal period for popular retail dewormer Wazine. The common response is this withdrawal period is two weeks. Unfortunately, this is simply not true. Yes, the withdrawal period for meat consumption after using Wazine is two weeks, but there is no official egg withdrawal time for the consumption of eggs.

For the past decade I have been sharing this information, and even stating that if you actually call the company that manufactures Wazine and ask them what the official egg withdrawal is for their product, they will tell you that there is no official egg withdrawal time, and that you should never again eat eggs from your laying hens that you have treated using Wazine. In fact, I called them again recently to verify this information for this article.

Their main concern is that drug residues that may be found inside eggs from chickens that have been treated with Wazine. If you personally make the decision to still eat the eggs, that’s on you. But you are taking a risk if you give away, barter, or sell your eggs from chickens you have treated with Wazine—especially is someone has a reaction to the drug residues found in the eggs they received from you.

About the author

Andy Schneider, aka The Chicken Whisperer, hosts the popular podcast Backyard Poultry with the Chicken Whisperer and has authored The Chicken Whisperer’s Guide to Keeping Chickens. Andy is also the national spokesperson for the USDA-APHIS Biosecurity for Birds program.