Worms au Natural

The most common question I get here is:
“What dosage of garlic or pepper to use?”

I don’t have an exact dosage. Start small with a sprinkling on their food to get them used to the smell and taste. Increase the amount. I think what we use comes out to be about 1 oz of powder per 500 lbs of animal per day for about a week. That is very much a guess. In the pigs I’m doing a herd on pasture, many animals, many sizes, and then averaging it out. Realize of course that we’re dealing with consumer grade garlic and cayenne pepper which may have varying potency as opposed to medical grade chemicals where this sort of thing is easier to nail down.

This is a close up of a white pine growth tip I took this fall in the north field. We have a smattering of evergreens scattered through the brush in the fields we’re recovering as well as along the edges. The sheep in particular but also the pigs enjoy munching these down. They eat the needles, the growth tips and strip the softer bark. Interestingly they are not as fond of the blue spruce although they will eat them if hungry enough.

Apparently the conifers have deworming properties. This is a topic I have been researching for several years now. I read about this in several articles and noted that our animals do find the boughs palatable. Our first test was to give them pine in their winter corrals. Observing their poops suggested that yes indeed it did appear to work.

One of the important things in deworming is to vary the chemical so as to not evolve your population of worms to be able to tolerate it. With further reading I was able to compile a long list of common natural substances that may have deworming properties. We have been working our way through the list of readily available ones, trying each in turn. I skipped the turpentine but we have tried wood ash (sugar maple), garlic and cayenne pepper.

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Our subject animals have included pigs, sheep, dogs, ducks, chickens, guineas and cats. Some had obvious signs of worms in their stools prior to the start of each trial. Others didn’t. In no cases were the sample sizes large enough to be considered significant – even our chicken flock is only around a hundred.

In the fall we feed a lot of pumpkins to the pigs and sheep – the seeds are supposed to be a dewormer. I did not notice much effect but it may be they are not getting a high enough dose of the seeds.

The animals love to eat the charcoal from our bonfires in the field so that gave a ready testing ground. Again the results were pro but not strong enough that I would pick the wood ash. However I think they might be getting minerals from it.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE – food grade) certainly works for keeping down the fly population, although chickens work better. For internal application I am not as convinced. More study is needed on it.

The garlic tests were astounding. First it is completely palatable to the animals – an important consideration. They just eat it right up with their feed (cottage cheese, milk or bread). We have not done enough tests to find what the dosage should be but a pound of dry garlic powder is enough for a month to keep a heard of pigs (52 at the time), pack of large guardian dogs, cats and sheep (6) all worm free after killing all the obvious worms that were present before the tests.

Cayenne pepper powder is almost as good as garlic but the animals do not like it nearly as much. Again we mixed it with cottage cheese, milk and bread. The younger piglets rejected it. The chickens accepted it. The larger animals including the adult pigs, sheep and dogs will eat it more readily but don’t care for it. Its effectiveness appears to be close to that of garlic but I’ll be doing more tests. It makes a good alternative.

The results have been excellent. Animals that clearly had worms in their stool samples prior to the trials were clear of worms after the trials with the garlic or cayenne pepper – less so with some of the other things. Furthermore the natural dewormers, especially the garlic, seem to act very quickly. One of the big pluses of the natural wormers is they seem benign to the soil life – the commercial dewormers tend to kill off microbial soil fauna, earth worms and even dung beetles.

Shooting Pigs: For injecting pigs I like to use a repeat injector like this or this. A bit of overkill for just one or two pigs but it works slick. Oral dewormers work well and are easy to give in a hot dog bun or inside a cream donut… Pigs will do almost anything for a donut.

Good grazing management also goes a long ways towards keeping the parasite population down but that is another topic. Our winters also are harsh on worms and other parasites because they break up the life cycle.

This has been a great homeschooling experiment and the subject of many discussions. I think it may contribute to the fact that our kids are quite willing to wash their hands. This may be a somewhat disgusting topic that you wish you had not read over breakfast but it is fascinating and good to know that there may be alternatives to the toxic commercial dewormers. Of course, natural substances also have toxic levels too so do your research.

One of the ways that I tell if I need to consider deworming an animal is if I see rough coat, bloat, loss of muscle or ill thrift. Then I check the gums and eyes for paleness which can be a sign of anemia induced by parasites bleeding the animal internally. This is a quick and easy first step in evaluating the animals and part of developing a keen eye.

Note that if you are starting with a strong worm problem then it may be advised to knock it down with something like Ivermec or Fenbendazole and then maintain your defenses against parasites with good managed grazing techniques, feeding garlic and other gentler practices. A veterinarian once told me the new method of better deworming is three days of Fenbendazole (Safeguard uses this) and then a shot of Ivermec which activates the worms and makes them susceptible to the second dose of chemicals. With an incoming new group of animals this is particularly well advised so you get a fresh start during quarantine down-hill, down-water, down-wind, down-chores.

My only major objection to Ivermec and Fenbendazole is they create toxic pig poops that then kill off the beneficial insects, worms and such that we need in our soils. For this simple reason I work to minimize their use. They are good tools to definitely be used with incoming pigs that should go through quarantine. Have a dedicated place and it minimizes the ecological impact.

Also see: Valentine Vampire Drink

Night: 48°F, Day: 54°F, Overcast, light rain in afternoon.

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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124 Responses to Worms au Natural

  1. pablo says:

    “Observing their poops . . .”

    Where else but in the blogosphere could one come upon such a phrase and be interested in where it lead? Nice post. Informed. Detailed. Involved. Educational. A universe far removed from my own, which is why I love visiting here so much.

    Great work. Thank you for letting me enjoy a bit of your knowledge. I wish I could do as well.

  2. Great information Walter. Love the new blog!

    -Jeremy Merritt
    http://www.wovencode.com
    Software Development | Consulting | Systems Thinking

  3. Jay says:

    I wish I had deworming properties. I’d make a strange superhero.

  4. Hi Jeremy! How are you all doing? How are the pigs? We are getting more rain today, as likely you are too. I think mother nature is trying to make up for the dry summer. I won’t complain. :) Cheers, -Walter

    Jay, you are a strange and delightful super hero. :)

  5. Deb says:

    Interesting information there, and timely for me as I’m looking into ways to deworm my “herd” of outdoor cats. They’ll eat just about anything; perhaps a pinch of garlic powder with their cat food is in order.

  6. Deb, when I experimented on the cats I fed the garlic powder to them mixed in with non-fat cottage cheese. Non-fat just because that happend to be what I had 14 pallet loads of. :) They gobbled it right up and were quickly worm free. Not only that but we saw no reoccurance of the worms after that. I still gave them more three weeks later. Note that there is garlic powder, garlic granuals and garlic salt. You don’t want to use the garlic salt. Cheers, -Walter

  7. Lené Gary says:

    Hi Walter,
    Great information on the dewormer experiments. I would think the “conventional” methods would be quite toxic.

    Lene

  8. Someone recently asked about dosage for garlic and pepper. I don’t have an exact dosage. I think it comes out to be about 1 oz of powder per 500 lbs of animal per day for about a week. You may be able to do it for just three days and still get good results and it is very possible that less would still do the job. More experiments are needed to figure it out accurately. Realize of course that we’re dealing with consumer grade garlic and cyanne pepper which may have varying potency as opposed to medical grade chemicals where this sort of thing is easier to nail down.

  9. jojo says:

    Hey any more knowledge gained on worming au natural? I hate worming my animals. Putting toxins in…

    i have slash pines, my goats run to it when a tummy ache starts, as does the pig. My horse runs to the bamboo. Wonder if either of these have natural deworming properties. So true about the charcoal pit. they all run to it. Personally, i would stay away from DE its just a risky thing to inhale it.

    What kind of garlic do you use? anything powdered from the store? Or it has to be fresh?

    LOVE YOUR BLOG>>>>jojo

  10. jojo says:

    Hey any more knowledge gained on worming au natural? I hate worming my animals. Putting toxins in…

    i have slash pines, my goats run to it when a tummy ache starts, as does the pig. My horse runs to the bamboo. Wonder if either of these have natural deworming properties. So true about the charcoal pit. they all run to it. Personally, i would stay away from DE its just a risky thing to inhale it.

    What kind of garlic do you use? anything powdered from the store? Or it has to be fresh?

    LOVE YOUR BLOG>>>>jojo

  11. Jojo, We use powdered garlic (not the garlic salt) which we buy in bulk. You can get small one or two pound containers at some grocery stores or even 50 lb containers online. It isn’t fresh. I have been thinking about this and I suspect that it is primarily the sulfer that is the primary active ingredient. I bet that copper would also help as that can be lethal to invertebrates but be aware it can kill sheep too. I’m not sure about goats on the copper. Maybe the bamboo has something in it too.

  12. Hi Walter,

    Nice posts. Just wanted to say, copper is not so good for sheep but very important for goats! I’ve got info on alternative de-wormers in my blog and also in my links if you have time to look at that. Maybe it will help.

  13. Michelle says:

    This is a awesome blog!Thanks so much for the info,its always nice to learn from someone thats tryed it already.I have some very picky goats,three of them dont want eat the comercal wormer,so iv started looking for other alteritives,Pine being one I tryed today.Im definitly going to try the garlic and mabe cayeene,I grow my own cayenne pepper,And I need to start growing garlic too,i have a dehydrator so i can make my own powder from it,Thanks for sharing,Michelle

  14. Podchef says:

    We use DE as a wormer and it works great. Best of all because it is mechanical there is no resistance to it.

    For the dogs I mix the DE with kelp meal and garlic powder and brewers yeast and put several tablespoons over their food–with DE there is no overdosing.

    For the sheep and cattle I mix it in with their once a week treat of beet pulp, tiny bit of grain, and strands of kelp. Everyone seems happy with it.

    I also sprinkle the DE in with the chickens dust bathes and over their food as well. Mites are virtually non-existent and worms. . .what worms??

  15. Anonymous says:

    Excellent blog! Thank you!
    I am trying to gather as much info on raising pigs. I am seriously thinking of getting a couple young ones this coming spring. Hopefully I can find a place that sells them here (BC, Canada), as well as someone to butcher them.
    I want to learn all info. before getting the pigs though. :-)

    Also enjoy your humor, you make learning fun!

    Lynn

  16. Anonymous says:

    Hi there, just came across your blog in my search for info on garlic deworming horses. I use the chemical wormers but want reduce their use and start herbal.

  17. Michele says:

    Thanks for the great info. We are raising pigs (Tamworth’s) and just had a litter of 6. However, so far, only two have survived, and we are wondering what’s happening. It appears that the sow may have rolled on them, but we really don’t know for sure. Do you have any ideas? Thanks.

    • Carol Binkley says:

      Hi Michelle,
      Where do you live? My daughter and I are thinking about getting a Tamworth boar for our next dad. We live in Oregon and haven’t seen many here advertised.
      We have 3 sows out in pasture, our first one had her babies in the shed and we put up a bumper so the babies could get away. The others are out in the field and I found a nest last night and will go see how that turns out. We are trying to go with survival of the fittest, but intervene as much as possible.

      Good luck

      Carol

  18. Are the piglets flattened and blue? That would indicate roll overs perhaps.

    How heavy is your sow? If she is obese then she is more likely to squish piglets. Sows in good condition set themselves down gently but fat sows plop down more out of control and are more likely to squash a piglet.

    Is she in a small stall or crate or does she have lots of space? When they have less space then squashings become more of an issue. A bumper board about 8″ up along the edges might help if she is in a small space, or letting her have a much larger space with lots of bedding hay.

    Good luck with the last two and hopefully she’ll do better with the next litter.

  19. RM says:

    Walter, you’re the best. You share incredibly useful information all the time, you’re kind and thoughtful in your interactions with folks, taking time to explain all sorts of things, even to the sometimes clueless (I’m including myself in that category). Thanks for all you do!

  20. Anonymous says:

    This was a great read. I wonder if it has the same effect on humans? Anyone willing to experiment? Maybe I will and get back to you…

    Mrs. R

  21. spulliam says:

    New visitor to the site, and am intregued by what I’ve found thusfar… but a word of caution.

    Garlic, although an effective holistic wormer, can be horribly toxic to cats. Each cat reacts differently, and some can tolerate a large dose, while others become ill with the smallest doeing possible. The effect is hemolytic anemia, and is bad news. Just a word of warning from a 20 year veterinary technician trying to keep my animals as holistically as possible. Diatomaceous Earth is almost as good as garlic, and much, much safer.

    • RLM McWilliams says:

      A good point! For clarification: FRESH garlic is toxic to cats. Dehydrated or cooked garlic is much less toxic to cats. As a conscientious cat breeder using natural care methods for nearly 20 yrs, and who has rescued & rehomed cats for more decades than I care to claim… we have found garlic powder to be very useful and effective. That said, is is not something to overdo in cats! Smaller amounts, usually 1-3 days at most, always erring on the side of caution. And, as you point out, some cats are more sensitive to garlic than others. But all the commercial anthelmintics (dewormers) are toxic – not just to soil microbes and the like, but to the cats, too.

      We never tried DE on the cats, and note with interest the widely varrying claims regarding its effectiveness for the treatment of internal parasites. It’s great to rub into the coat of flea-infested stray and feral cats – always taking care to minimize the amount of dust that goes into the air. Here again, people should be aware that they want to only use FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth! The pool grade is very high in crystaline silica, which is very dangerous to breathe even in small amounts, but the food grade has very little (1-3%, if memory serves). Breathing ANY dust is to be avoided, of course, but everyone must remember to use the FOOD GRADE DE.

  22. phill says:

    hi there great site lovin the blog have just took hold of 3 piglets(saddle back , gloucester oldspot, an tamworth mix)first time except for 4 chickens, would love to know if there tails dont curl (these dont) is a sign of worms(gonna try the garlic).thanks again
    p.s. were in northern ireland.

  23. Pat Garmezy says:

    Hi Walter-I am going to try your method to weight my daughter, Sara’s, 2 Yorkshire 4-H pigs…in the mean time I have just learned recently that black walnuts placed in the animals water troughs can also help with de-worming. I am trying this with our 4-H show pigs and sheep. Enjoy yur blog!
    Pat Garmezy

    • RLM McWilliams says:

      Black walnut hulls have a time-honored reputation as an effective de-wormer. Not sure if the actual nuts have any effect in that department, though they are tasty and nutritious! *CAUTION* – horses are very sensitive to black walnuts, and all forms of exposure should be avoided!

  24. Pat, please do let me know how the black walnuts work. I have read that they are a natural dewormer but haven’t tried them as they are not something I readily have. -Walter

  25. Anonymous says:

    DE does not work for internal parasites myth and busted. It will keep external down but, it will have no effect on internal. Also in the long term it would be like feeding crushed powdered glass to your animals. A lady in my poultry group found this fact out when her hens started dying off from internal cuts from DE. It just shreds the internal digestion system over time.

    Garlic Works
    Cayenne Pepper Works
    Black Walnut Hulls-Works
    Wild Garlic-Works to a degree
    Apple Cider Vinegar-More of a preventative
    Jalapeno-Is Promising, I gave mine picked jalapeno mixed in their water.

    I kinda rotate what I use as well. I will give Cayenne pepper and a week or so give garlic or walnut hulls.

  26. I doubt the DE killed the chickens. It is so fine that it doesn’t act as you are imagining broken glass. We’ve fed DE to our chickens, and I know a great many other people who have, without having it kill them. More likely it was something else that did the birds in. I’m not promoting DE, just doubtful it killed her chickens.

    • Marilyn Tomlin says:

      FYI to all…there are different grades of DE. The grade used for swimming pool filters is the kind that acts as crushed glass. It is very dangerous for anyone or any animal to eat or inhale this type of DE. It is heat treated to alter the shape of the crystals so that it does a better job at capturing and trapping small particles. Food grade or farm grade or agricultural DE is not harmful to you. It is still not advised to allow yourself to inhale it but it will not harm your innards if ingested. I don’t know about the effects of it for deworming…I’m here because I too need all the help I can get with my first attempt at pigs. BTW, thanks for this interesting, down to earth, honest and super informative website.

  27. Todd says:

    This is a dirty subject, but what's the best way to do a fecal exam? I use garlic and DE on my pigs, but I'd like to be sure what I'm doing is working.

    Any progress on the new pig greenhouse/barn?
    Todd

  28. todd says:

    What's the best way to do a fecal exam? We've got a few pigs and use DE and garlic. I'd like to be sure that our treatment works.

    Can we get an update on the pig greenhouse/barn?
    Thanks
    Todd

  29. The greenhouse is on hold right now, as it isn't needed in this season. We poured concrete right up until it got very cold and then the weather changed fast so I didn't dare put a wind grabbable roof up on the concrete incase it hadn't cured yet. Good thing as a barn just over the mountain that got poured at the similar time was ripped way by the winds this year.

    For fecals, get a simple microscope and google for instructions. There are some excellent ones out there with photos of the various worms and eggs.

  30. Vamp says:

    Great blog you have here. I found it looking for natural wormers like black walnut. I was hoping to find a dose.

    To the person who wrote: At February 22, 2009 7:40 PM, Anonymous said…

    "DE does not work for internal parasites myth and busted. It will keep external down but, it will have no effect on internal. Also in the long term it would be like feeding crushed powdered glass to your animals. A lady in my poultry group found this fact out when her hens started dying off from internal cuts from DE. It just shreds the internal digestion system over time. "

    You are wrong. I fed my chickens fossil shell flour AKA DE to my chickens all winter safely. If that woman killed her chickens it could have been she used DE for swimming pools which is deadly or used way too much. DE for pools is super heated which brings out some toxic chemical in it that makes it poisonous. Most likely that's what that woman did. To use DE on animals or humans (I tried it internally on myself too) it MUST be food grade. The dose is small only 2% mixed with your animals food daily should be given. It can take up to 2 or more months to clear an animal of most parasites. It doesn't work on tape worms well at all so be forewarned.

    I wormed a cat for 4 months with DE and I saw visible segments of tape worm and I had read twice online that vets say it doesn't work on tapes.

    • RLM McWilliams says:

      It does sound like the lady on the poultry forum used pool-grade DE instead of FOOD GRADE. Pool grade DE is superheated – which crystalizes the silica, and yes that could act like minute shards of glass inside the animal (glass being fused silica).
      Some people believe that DE acts in that manner on insects and worms, but that is questionable. However, it is a rapid and effective dessicant, absorbing the oil coating on the surface of hard-shelled insects, and drying them out every quickly, resulting in their death.
      Like many others, I have no idea how or if DE is really effective as an internal de-wormer, but as long as it is eaten and not inhaled (MUCH more dangerous with the pool-grade DE! – but no powder should be inhaled, not even wheat flour) it seems it ‘can’t hurt, might help’. And it is cheap (though more expensive than the pool-grade.)
      FOOD GRADE DE is good to sprinkle in all the nests, and mix with fine sand for the chickens to take dust baths. This will prevent or eliminate lice pretty effectively, in my experience.

  31. Mellifera says:

    Cats (and anything else) with tapeworms regularly poop out segments all the time- the segments are full of eggs, and shedding them from time to time is how tapeworms distribute their eggs. If anything, seeing the segments from time to time is proof positive that the DE *didn't* work. Have to side with the vets on this one.

    • RLM McWilliams says:

      Good point! However, if an animal owner observes a bunch of tapeworm segments all at once – this may be an indicator of the effectiveness of the treatment.

  32. 1Travelingon says:

    I have not seen evidence of worms in my two pigs or 20 chickens (I have not used a microscope either). Should I still worm them just to be on the safe side? I have had the pigs since last spring.
    Also it is very cold, windy and snowy here, does weather play a part in keeping the worms away (at least for the winter)?

    • RLM McWilliams says:

      This question is an old one – but a good one. Those who want to raise animals more naturally than the industrial CAFO approach may want to consider whether total elimination of internal parasites is their goal. In ‘the real world’ it is probably an impossible goal (now that parasite populations are widely resistant to ivermectin, brand name ‘Ivomec’) – however, worming ‘just to be on the safe side’ is probably NOT safe – if one is using the chemical drug dewormers. Even the natural dewormers should be used with care, as parasites can develop resistance or tolerence to the, as well (except, perhaps DE, though there is a lot of debate regarding how effective DE is as an internal de-wormer).

  33. Anonymous says:

    Hello from North Carolina. I've been using food grade diatomaceous earth, sprinkled in the chicken food and on the floor of the henhouse (deep litter) about once a month. So far (almost 2 years) my hens seem worm-free, lay well, etc. However, I ran out this fall and went a couple months without using it (also the hens were kept penned during this time due to the addition of a new dog to the farm). This week, after seeing what appeared to be cecal (sp?) worms in the henyard, I have added garlic and yeast powder. After reading your blog, I think cayenne will be part of the mix. The hens seem to love anything spicy.
    When the hens are allowed to freerange in fine weather, they will ignore items like black walnut leaves and carrot tops for weeks, and then consume them. I believe they are "self-medicating" when they do this, as both carrot and walnut are vermifuges.

  34. Pingback: Weekly Roundup – Worming Pigs and Solar Nests

  35. John says:

    Very cool, I raise milk goats sheep and ocassionally horses here, I noticed several years back that animals coming in with worms very quickly got rid of them. I was very curious as to what would cause that and the only thing I could come up with was the eating of pine and fir branches. Having read this makes me more certain of it than ever. I guess it makes sense, the old fashioned remedy for worms was turpentine which is just pine oil.

  36. Paul Tyrrell says:

    have you had any experience with deworming horses using turpentine and flax seed oil

  37. SALLY ASH says:

    So is garlic safe for baby pigs that are intended for food like 8 weeks.old. ?? And do they need worming right away. I know foals can be really wormy but don’t know @ pigs. We do have horses and routinely rotate toxic paste wormers for them. I am glad for the clarification on the food grade DE. I was thinking that pool DE was OK.. for chickens (I have 50 of them) I usually use piperazine in the winter when they are not laying to worm with but never wanted to taint the eggs while they were laying nor waste the eggs while worming with piperazine.. so sounds like food grade DE is a good year round non toxic choice.

    • You had mentioned in another comment that they are in a stall. I would suggest worming them in that case. You might want to do an initial worming of ivermec or SafeGuard (fenbenzadole).

      Part of how we manage worms is the garlic – they’ll only eat a safe amount in my experience although I have read that too much garlic, like anything, can be a problem. Part of how we manage worms is the managed rotational grazing which leaves the parasites behind – works just like it does for cattle and sheep.

      Chickens are also great for controlling pests in general.

      I have never seen a worm problem with chickens.

  38. Kristina says:

    Thank you so much for your information. My husband & I moved from America to a “3rd world country” to have a different life doing rescue work with small wildlife/exotics as well as assist some of the local population. (Our primary focus is the animals, it is just our passion.) Our supplies have not arrived from the States (hung up in customs) & we were brought an Asian Jungle Cat about 3 weeks old. She appeared healthy except for obvious signs of worms, and needing a good ear cleaning. This is a new species for us to work with, and honestly I am used to having “modern science” at my disposal, which I DO NOT have here. After reading many pages I saw yours, and though I know the old garlic trick for my dogs you really went the extra mile on posting, and I used the info to treat this little girl successfully. No side effects, no toxins, and READILY available! Thank you for your assistance & reminding me that going back to the basics is going to be our best option.

  39. David Lloyd Sutton says:

    Looking through your older posts, I came across this tremendously valuable one. Just thought I’d mention that while melons and tomatos and so on evolved to propagate through primate poop (use biosolids from a sewage treatment plant and get hundreds of volunteer reverted cherry tomatos, from my personal experience) avians evolved with the capsaicum producing peppers. Peppers want their seeds to take flight! Capsaicum is toxic to us, even if it is fun to flirt with in our cooking, but totally innocuous to birds. I’ve never used it on chickens, but suspect you could really “overdose” and simply achieve faster worming results with no harm to your biddies. Thanks for the information, Walter. You constantly amplify my resolution to return to the land!!

  40. Patricia says:

    Well, once again I have found some really great, useful info on how to take care of my pigs right here on your site. Thank you. I had brought home from the auction a mid sized pig that is “roaster” size, I believe? Maybe I am getting the terminology mixed up with my rabbits. Too big for a weaner, not quite ready for butcher- in the middle somewhere. It had developed a cough I think from my wonderful husband keeping her cooped up in the hot stationwagon for too long before he came to get me. She was frothing. I hosed her down and anyways, so she had this cough. She was a little skinny, too. It’s the auction. I knew I was taking a risk. So after I brought in another pig, she started eating well, instead of just meandering around with her food. She fattened up a little but then later I started seeing backbone a little bit and she is just really kind of rangy looking instead of fat looking like the other pigs. Then, walking in the field I saw a poop with white things on it. I debated on whether or not it was worms from the pig, or maggots that got into it later. Went to the farm store and a bottle of the wormer stuff was $11 but I needed to get some other stuff first so I held off on that, knowing I had garlic at home. So I went home and grabbed two cloves of garlic and wrapped them up in some wheat bread so it made bread balls, because I wanted to get the concentrated garlic dose to just the one pig. So I’m out there in the field and I let the pig get real close to my hands because I want to make sure in all the pushing and shoving from the other pigs, that only the one pig gets it first. I’ll catch the other girls in a few days when I get more garlic. She swallowed one bread ball, which equated to one whole garlic clove. About that time, the one sow that is almost 200 lbs. decided to latch onto my wrist to make me let loose of the other bread ball. It hurt like hell, I kicked her in the nose and she let go, but I had already dropped the bread ball and all the pigs ate the bread, nosed the garlic clove around in the dirt some and left it alone. I knew they’d probably reject just the garlic clove which is why I put it in a bread ball because I knew they would just snarf the bread down whole. So, we shall see if I see more white things in the poop or if that pig starts putting on weight. Does it take more than one time doing the garlic for a couple of days, or what? Also, out of a whole field of poops, I only saw one lil turd with little white things on it. They weren’t moving though, and didn’t really look like the ones I’ve seen with the cat or dog. They were just little maggot sized white blobs, but fatter, like the rain had swelled them up or something. They haven’t been eating any white rice, so I guess it would look like cooked, white rice blobs. Hope that helps.

  41. Have you tried free-choicing garlic powder, cayenne, et al to your pigs? Do you provide free choice salt and/or other minerals? I’m running Mark Bader’s 16 bin free choice minerals (http://goo.gl/IPfBp) to my cow herd and I’m becoming a believer in their ability to preferentially self-select what they are deficient in. Interestingly, one of the bins is sulfur and I’ll be very interested to see if we continue to have a low level of parasites with that available to them.

    • They don’t eat the garlic or cayenne free choice as it is too intense. We add it to the whey. They are not happy with that initially but get used to it and we gradually increase the percent.

      We don’t provide salt. We tried but the pigs weren’t interested nor were they interested in mineral blocks. They are very interested in blocks of dirt which we make from our farm soil. Our soil is fortunately full of all the right minerals. The hay we get from the farmer east of us is low in selenium which is an issue and why we provide our own dirt in winter.

      Interesting about Bader’s 16 bin free choice minerals. In our setup with many herds I would not use that as it would mean 160 bins or so to manage. For us it is easier to provide our dirt which seems to have what the pigs need for the most part. We have also experimented with providing mineral powder mixes with good results and I would like to try a kelp mix sometime. However, I’m not sure that either does better than our own dirt since we see such good results.

      Another good old time trick is putting iron into their water or whey. It dissolves slowly providing iron to the pigs.

  42. Zach says:

    As winter comes on do you still manage the parasites? Our winters here in Northern Michigan are long enough that I would assume the parasites do not continue the cycle once the ground has been covered with snow for some time. I could be way off here…

    • Winter is very hard on parasites. It breaks their life cycle very effectively. If we had winter 12 months of the year instead of just six months of the year the parasite cycle would be killed off in grazing animals. Of course, the grazing animals would be killed off too. Notice that there aren’t too many pigs, sheep or cattle on the north or south poles. :) Santa’s pulled a fast one there as his real address is considerably south of the north pole.

      If you are having a parasite problem then late fall or early winter when the ground freezes is a great time to deworm livestock. Of course, this assumes the animals are kept outdoors in the cold temperatures. If one were keeping them in heated barns then that is more like the warm seasons, or worse.

      • RLM McWilliams says:

        Winter is a challenge for the external stages of internal parasites, but most parasite eggs can survive months of cold and snowy weather. It takes spells of really cold temperatures to kill the eggs of many internal parasites, sub-zero temperatures for a week or more, in some (many?) cases. (I’ve heard that certain parasite eggs require something like 2 weeks at -20F, but do not know if this is accurate.) The next time those of us farming in the northern states complain about those temperatures… we can count our blessings on parasite control.

  43. chris says:

    hello Walter~

    We do feed round bales of June Clover hay. These are just on the ground, no ring. We usually begin to peel the layers and the pigs will do the rest, once started. We do feed minimal grain. Usually we feed the grain on/in the hay. We’d like to work away from grain, though our growth rates have seemed very slow.

    I’ve found myself wondering more and more about parasites and about our feed (as well as genetics, time and generations under this minimal grain approach, etc, etc).

    Do you test on a schedule for parasites? Treat on a schedule? Is your approach subjective, objective, or both?

    Do you feed mineral free-choice? Do you feed wood ash from your wood stove? Usually in the whey? Or, for that matter, d.e. or garlic, cayenne? In the whey?

    thank you Walter. We appreciate you sharing all of your efforts openly.

    chris

    • On the growth rate, make sure your animals are getting balance. In particular lysine tends to be a limiting amino-acid, a building block for proteins. There are other limiting ones after that.

      The wood ash from our stove gets scattered on our fields to help with local warming and we don’t generate very much since our cottage only uses about three quarters of a cord of wood or less a year. We are fortunate that our soil is very rich in minerals. I dig soil in the winter to feed to our pigs. This year I’m experimenting a little with some kelp too. We’ll see how that does. I have tried mineral blocks years ago but was not impressed with the results or the process. Do get your soil tested so you know if you’re low in anything. Selenium and iron are to biggies.

      I no longer do fecal counts for parasites because I have learned how to spot infections by eye. After years of doing it you learn to have a keen eye for their health. We also simply don’t get much parasite activity. Basically, managed rotational grazing, plenty of space, low animal density, dairy in their diet, copper in the soil, winter and garlic all work a as great de-wormers. Healthy animals don’t tend to have a problem with parasites. This may be why the factory farms are so intent on using chemical de-wormers, antibiotics and the like – they have a fundamentally unhealthy situation and bad genetics.

      By the way, I suggest de-worming your pigs rather than worming them as some people say they do. :)

      • RLM McWilliams says:

        Walter – Your site is one of the most informative AND interesting sites anywhere on the ‘net. Thank you!

        On the term ‘worming’, while it may not sound quite right, it is a term that has been in use for a very long time. Maybe as long as to say a sow carrying a litter is ‘in pig’ (or sheep ‘in lamb’, or mares ‘in foal’, or bitches ‘in whelp’, or…).

        Thanks again for excellent information on your site.

  44. Tanaka Tashisan says:

    Thanks for writing this up. I’ve been looking for a less chemical way to get rid of parasites in our livestock.

  45. Amy Mckenzie says:

    My family has a small homestead in Northeastern Maine and we use Wormwood tincture to deworm our pigs. I make up a bunch in late summer, enough for the whole year, then put about pint in their water (the trough holds about 10 gallons of water) for 3-4 days in a row when they need deworming. Wormwood grows like crazy, is very cold hardy and can be used on people too. We take this same tincture every spring and fall to make sure we are dewormed too LOL. The only downside is buying the alcohol to make the tincture, and the tincture takes about 3-4 months of sitting around to get strong enough.

    • There are several species of plant that come under the common name of wormwood and mugwort.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wormwood

      Which one (scientific name) are you using? Can you give details of your tincture making? I have heard of using wormwood and also cautionary tails as it can be fairly strong. Cautions seem to center around use with pregnant animals and long term use as opposed to occasional use. I think we have wormwood in our fields and would be interested in knowing more about its use.

  46. Juli W. says:

    I absolutely LOVE your blog Mr. Jeffries and have sat reading your site for hours on end, while making notes. I hope to own poultry, (mostly chickens for meat and laying) pigs and goats one day soon as part of hometseading so am educating myself as much as possible beforehand! Since this post concerning wormwood and other natural alternatives has SO impressed me I thought I would most humbly post this link for any who might be interested. Hope you don’t mind. Since this is a new publication from 2012 I am wondering if many may not have heard of it yet. I have. I had this book reccomended to me by a veterinarian who is also a naturopath, as much as possible. he was extremely impressed and bought it for himself. I must say it is unique and the reviews are phenomenal. Here is one link where I found it available. Unfortunately, it is so new that finding it discount/used is difficult at this time but one can always post at Ag Centers etc. just in case someone wants to part with their copy on the cheap! :) A few people on another blog stated most assertively that they would never be willing to part with their copy as it has saved them literally hundreds in livestock vetting, including one case, which apparently was quite threatening and could have resulted in the loss of the highly prized animal. Other places I have seen it for sale were higher so this link is only a starting place for you. The book is open to look at, as Amazon does frequently, which I love!
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Accessible-Equine-Livestock-Herbal/dp/0615589685/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top#_
    Thank you, thank you for sharing your amazing knowledge so freely for the “greener” ones who may be reading and gleaning from your wisdom! Thanks also, to all the others who have contributed to this MUCH appreciated blog, bearing golden nuggets of education! Textbooks are wonderful but learning from people who live it everyday TRUMPS everything else! Oh HOW I wish all organic livestock ranchers would do the same as you have done! MY what a paradise that would be! :)

  47. Chris - Fl says:

    I appreciate your blog as you have taught this city guy turning country guy a lot about raising his yorkshire hogs.

    Just curious as to why you do not recommend using fresh garlic cloves? I planted many cloves last year and have hundreds of full garlic heads and was wondering if I could give a clove smashed inside of some cheese.

    • We plant garlic out in the fields for the pigs to graze. It isn’t their favorite but they do eat some. For anti-parasite we use the powdered garlic because it is easier to store, easier to feed, easier to dose, more effective than whole cloves, easier to mix with the whey and more palatable. With 400 pigs it would take a ton of fresh garlic, literally. While I love garlic, I don’t want to peel all those cloves nor crush them.

  48. Chris - Fl says:

    Also, I read somewhere that giving dishsoap in their water will breakdown the oils on the worms body which will then allow the pigs stomach juices to breakdown the worm thus killing it and excreting it…

    • I’ve heard of people using Basic-H this way but have not tried it. I don’t know of any controlled studies and haven’t had time to do one of my own. Do you know of any double-blind controlled research on it? I would be interested in reading it.

  49. Catherine says:

    Hi Walter-
    I do not see any evidence of worms in my breeding stock of sows and my boar. However, I have never wormed them and I think I should be doing this on some sort of regular basis. I am going to use garlic powder and add it to their feed at the 1 ounce per 500lb rate you suggest.
    My question is, is it okay to feed garlic to gestating sows…close to farrowing?
    Also, while I’m asking… do you ever have a problem with mites and what do you do about them? How about with a gestating sow?
    Thanks so much, your blog is very helpful to me.

    • We feed garlic to all our pigs – never seen any problem from it.

      I’ve never seen mites on our animals. This may be in part to several things:

      1) Our pigs and chickens are on pasture under managed rotational grazing which lowers the intensity of pest populations;

      2) Our cold winters are pretty harsh on ticks, mites and other surface parasites;

      3) We have a high copper content in our soil and that is often used to inhibit invertebrate pest life cycles;

      4) We do feed garlic and this may make us and our animals not taste good to vampires.

      I have heard that a good solution to solving tick, lice and mite problems is to pour vegetable oil down the length of an animals back and in it’s ears. Apparently this smothers the parasites. Some people use motor oil but I would suggest sticking with vegetable oil for safety since you want to eat the meat you are raising. People who’ve done this have reported to me that it worked for their pigs.

  50. Kenzie Wilson says:

    Hi
    I noticed my pig acted weird and she wont get up. We now know she has worms. We tried the garlic and coal.. Is there any other ideas I could try??

    • If she has a strong infestation which is weakening her then I would suggest using either Ivermec or Fenbendazole which are chemical dewormers. Also move her to a new area and then move her again when you deworm again in about 21 days. Note the withdrawal times for the medications on the packages.

      Once she is clean then managed rotational grazing, garlic and being healthy should keep her from having a parasite problem.

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