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. We do a week on and then several weeks to a month or more off. 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.

The reason for gradually increasing the garlic level is to avoid having the animals reject the feed. It is to the animal’s taste, not to your taste. If you find they’re rejecting then mix in more food to cut the garlic flavor so they’ll eat it and then continue ramping up to the 1oz per 500lbs of animal a day and hold for a week. That is the does I found cleared out worms in dogs, cats, sheep, pigs and it probably works on humans too.

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.

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.

About Walter Jeffries

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

  1. Wes says:

    Have you found any place to buy garlic powder in bulk?

  2. Rachel says:

    Hi Walter,

    This is my first summer raising a pig (there hasn’t been a pig on my property in at least 10 years). I have a Berkshire gilt that weighs in at 232 lbs according to your string formula. I got the pig in May from a guy who was culling her from his show herd because her legs were too short- he said she was born in January. Since the pig has been on my farm she has been on pasture (using electric poultry netting) she has been moved four times and each time she digs a big wallow. I feed twice a day- her meals generally consist of “pig feed” mixed with 2 quarts of fresh goats milk and topped with a hard boiled egg or two. I add about a teaspoon of garlic powder to the goats milk approximately three meals a week. That diet is supplemented with leftovers from the kitchen and the garden. She has been on the same once a week herbal deworming schedule as my goat. The herbal blend contains wormwood, black walnut, fennel, garlic, curcurbita pepo, hyssop, mugwort and thyme.

    I was planning to take her to the butcher soon, and I was curious about the efficacy of the herbal dewormer, so I sent a fecal sample to the vet. It turns out that it hasn’t been working at all! The count was 850. The vet said that up to 500 is moderate and anything over that is high. What a huge disappointment! I have never seen evidence of worms in her poop and she seems very healthy and happy. She does foam at the mouth before meals sometimes- which I had attributed to normal saliva production in anticipation of food.

    Should I have dewormed the pig with a chemical dewormer when she first arrived here? Should I deworm her now and hold off on the butchering? If so, how long do you recommend waiting? If I don’t deworm her, is there a chance that the meat will be tainted in some way?


    • If she came in with a heavy parasite load and you didn’t do a strong cleanout then she could easily still have some. The amount of garlic you’re giving is very minimal – I would not expect that to clean her out. A heavier dose might help but at this point if you’re worried about a high load then you might want to do Ivermec or Fenbendazole and then double the withdrawal period. If you want to continue with herbal then personally I would boost the garlic to more like three tablespoons daily in yogurt or something for palatability. Build up over a period of days and then a week should do it in my experience. Managed rotational grazing is the other key to breaking the parasite life cycle. That alone generally works. This requires more frequent moving than what you’ve been doing. How many paddocks do you have available?

      When bringing in new livestock, especially if from a confinement or penned situation it is important to deworm and possibly vaccinate as needed depending on your situation. If the pigs came from a pen or confinement operation rather than from a managed rotational grazing setup then you can basically assume they have intestinal parasites. I would also suggest a month or longer of quarantine from other animals on your farm so she wouldn’t bring disease or parasites in with her.

  3. Nat says:

    Hi Walter,

    This year was my first attempt at breeding. Previously buying feeder pigs and raising them to butcher weight, we never had any apparent problems with worms (never did a fecal sample either, though).

    I bought several breeding animals this spring from different sources, and never wormed anything. Now I have some very thin animals, with their backbones protruding. I bought a big bag of garlic powder which I started feeding them in their grain six days ago, at the amounts you suggest (1 oz per 500 lb of pig per day).

    Would you suggest getting a fecal test and hitting them with a chemical wormer to knock things out? I want to do things as natural as possible, but what I’ve done (or haven’t done) is not working.

    Since I started feeding the garlic on Wednesday, I’ve had three sows come into heat, these are all sows that I haven’t seen in heat for months, and I’d hoped they were already bred. Is this a sign the garlic is definitely working, or is that just coincidence? Should I still get a chemical dewormer at this point, or am a going to be able to deal with this naturally, with how far I’ve let it get?

    • When bringing in new breeder stock I would take them through a round of deworming with Ivermec or Fenbendazole as well as a full round of vaccines and quarantine for at least 30 days, preferably longer. The garlic may well have helped – I have successfully cleared strong infestations with just that. I’ve never seen it bring sows to heat. Might be related or just a coincidence. The ideal thing is to do a fecal so you know what you’re dealing with. At this point from what you’ve said I would use Ivermec or Fenbendazole. I would also keep going with the garlic if they were mine.

      The other thought is are you doing managed rotational grazing? I would do the deworming in the paddock they are in and then move them out to a new paddock a few days later after they’ve dumped their gut contents in the first paddock. Then again I would move them after a few days and get on a regular rotation schedule not bringing them back to a paddock for a minimum of 21 days, preferably 30 days or longer. With a heavy infestation you may need to go through a couple of rounds of deworming. Couple that with the rotation to leave parasites behind. They’ll eventually die off in the soil.

  4. Nat says:

    Now, you don’t rotate them in the winter time, do you? Is the important thing to just keep piling on the bedding? How does that work? Or does the cold help too?

    • Both. In the winter we do do rotation and resting of some winter paddocks but we also add bedding all winter long which in effect is much like doing a rotation. The cold of winter kills of parasites – they can’t survive outside the animals. One little benefit to the winter season. In hot places parasite problems are much worse.

  5. Nat says:

    If I’m going to dose them with Ivermec or Fembendazole, will doing a fecal recommend one or the other, or should I just go to the farm store and pick up one, not bothering about the fecal?

    • With my experience I would not bother with the fecal because I can look at an animal and see what is going on but if you’re not sure a fecal gives you more data. I would examine the pig’s gums: healthy pink means less chance of worms, white or light pink means more chance of worms. Coat: rough is more chance of worms. Gut bloat: more chance of worms but it could be torsion. Skinny is also more chance of worms. Combining these and other observations gives a good probability on the diagnosis but that takes a keen eye where as the fecal is a nice neat numerical count and can also give your the species of problem. It sort of depends on how fast you want to move on this and how easy it is to get a fecal done. You can also do them yourself. Google for directions.

  6. Nat says:

    Walter, can you weigh in on the wisdom or otherwise of this idea:

    Having 3 different winter paddocks, and rotating the pigs to a new paddock every 2 1/2 weeks, so each area would have 5 weeks of rest with no pigs in it.

    • Might be a good idea, especially in warmer climates. One benefit of cold winters it it basically puts the parasite populations on hold. They can’t survive outside the hosts so rotation of paddocks outdoors in cold climates is less of an issue.

  7. Nat says:

    In the following page,


    concerning pasture rotation the author writes,
    “A period of 12 months or more is recommended, although this may not be 
    practical in all systems. At least 70 days is usually the minimum to show any benefit.”

    Can you comment on this and why it differs from your recommendation of “minimum of 21 days, preferably 30 days”?

    • 1) I tend to say “21 days, preferably 30 days or longer” when I talk about timing for rotations as that is widely recognized in managed rotational grazing. If you live in a warm southern climate you may want to make longer off cycles on the rotations, but even there I hear people use those numbers. Adapt it to your local conditions. That is the short answer.

      2) The longer answer beings with that I have a low opinion of the recommendations of the AWA because I have found so many errors in their standards and documents. I find that they are overly heavy handed in their approach to things, resistant to new information and totally unwilling to consider the threat they are to farmers and livestock in terms of biosecurity with their demand to at any time go any where on any farm without any precautions. I don’t like their commanding words ‘shall’ and ‘will’. Rather the AWA would be better to make recommendations with explanations of reasoning instead of trying to force their limited views on all situations. Ergo I’m not surprised they and I have a difference of option about pasture rest periods. My experience is based on actual field practices in our situation. Their opinions are based on theory. Your mileage will vary. Adapt things to your conditions.

      3) The AWA has been asking me to join them for years. I haven’t because of problems in their standards and demands. I have spoken with the AWA people about these issues both on the phone and via email over the years with each iteration of their courtship. On a positive note, they have made some of the changes I have recommended on their standards but they’re still stuck in ruts on some very important issues. The biggest problems that I have with them at this point is their demand that they can just walk anywhere unannounced on a farm without regard to biosecurity. They also ignore the fact that the working dogs of a farm are not about to accept strangers just walking out in the field uninvited and unescorted. These issues are non-negotiable for the safety and health of our livestock. Even the USDA doesn’t try to do that to us.

      4) From speaking with AWA over the years it has become clear that they base their thinking on souther climates which are very different than our northern climates and they base things more on confinement style genetics, especially with pigs, which are again very different than what we deal with. They don’t understand the effects of winter, of high copper soils, of multi-species grazing with poultry much like in the wild with the birds helping to break parasite life cycles and a lot of other little details that are different between their theory and our real world. They seem to focus on mono-cropping which is nearly the opposite of how we approach things.

      5) Getting back to days, “the 21, preferably 30 days or longer” is what I have found to be true in our mixed species, northern climate conditions on our soil with our genetics – in other words, it works for us. Always adapt what you learn to your situations. I can’t emphasize that enough. The real world is not a cookie cutter assembly line of pink plastic pigs. Conditions vary. This fundamental concept is why zoning, regulations and fixed invariable standards are a dubious idea – a theme I often touch on.

      6) You will note that they recommend machine working the fields via mowing, harrowing and other things. These are energy intensive, polluting and simply not possible with steep mountains fields filled with stumps and rocks. They don’t appear to understand conditions different from their flat lands fields – again an example of AWA thinking too narrowly about only land that can be machine worked and only about one goal rather than holistic, sustainable, humane permaculture which is a total system. Not everyone farms bottom land or flat lands. There are different way.

      7) Much of the AWA standards are worded as demands. Educating is a better way. Rather than trying to force a one-world-view on every situation they should explain what they know and share experience. There is no harm in going longer than the time to break the parasite cycle but it isn’t necessary everywhere. As I’ve noted many times one should be rotating them back in at those times as a minimum but really based on the forages regrowth which often take significantly longer than 21 days in most seasons, especially in a cool climate. Adjust things to the field, season, climate, soils and other conditions.

      Other than that I have no opinion on AWA. :)

  8. Nat says:

    Thanks Walter. That was helpful.

  9. Max says:

    Hi Walter,
    thanks for all the info on your site!
    This is Max, and we live in VA. we have a breeding gilt, a breeding boar and a barrow.
    yesterday I noticed that our hogs have little bugs on them, we did some research and discovered that they are swine lice. so my question is how do we get rid of them?

    • I’ve never had these on our animals so I can’t give your direct experience. What I have read is that pouring vegetable oil along their backs and in their ears and then rubbing them down suffocates the lice. This summer someone told me they did this and it worked. Good luck!

      So why don’t we have them one might wonder. Probably because we live in a colder climate but it may also be because we have high levels of copper in our soil and we feed garlic, both of which may help in addition to winter’s cold.

  10. Max says:

    I think part of the problem is the boar is new and where we read about swine lice it said the are only carried in on new stock :(
    any idea how to get it out of their bedding? ( hay )

  11. Max says:

    What about sprinkling Diatomaceous Earth on them and their bedding?

    • Try it and let me know how it works. In fact, setup one control space and one experimental space. In the control do nothing. In the experimental sprinkle the DE. Then compare them daily to see what happens. Good science opportunity.

  12. Max says:

    I’m mostly concerned about the gilt…
    she was bred ( I think ) about a month ago.
    will the lice affect her health?
    ( obviously we don’t want the piglets to have lice! )

    • Again, lice is not something I’ve directly dealt with so I don’t have direct experience. My understanding is that the concerns are they can cause other infections, disease transmission and perhaps ill thrift through dragging the animal’s resources down if it is a severe infection. Piglets would be more sensitive I would think as they are smaller so getting rid of the infestation now is a very good idea. I just googled and Ivermec pops up as a solution.

  13. wes says:

    Big Walter, I have a few more questions about worming. Do you quit feeding garlic, or any other kinds of wormers before butchering? If so for how long before butchering? It is a very cold late fall here in MO. I have a couple of hogs I plan to send to the butcher in about 2 months. I wasn’t planning to have them tested for worms, but it is something that has been bothering me. Do you think I should have them tested, or just feed the garlic and hope for the best?

    • Garlic is good food and there is no withdrawal period necessary. If you use a commercial dewormer like Ivermec or Fenbendazole then observe the withdrawal they recommend. Deworming has it’s greatest leverage earlier in the animals’s live cycle so it is really at weaning and during the grower phase that it should be done as well as at quarantine if you’re bringing in new stock to your farm. There isn’t a lot of point in deworming close to slaughter.

      If the pigs have been on pasture under managed rotational grazing I doubt they’ll need any deworming. If you want to have a little fun you can do a fecal test – great homeschool project with a microscope or even a good loupe. Google for pictorial and text directions.

  14. Mary says:

    Thank you again, garlic is on order for the piggies. Waiting for one mama to farrow, I am driving her nuts checking on her. Nesting is going on today and she is huge. This is her first litter and mine too:) Well have a wonderful day and yay I think spring has finally made it. Thanks again

  15. Ken in NH says:

    I have a young hog that’s about 50 lbs. Looks and acts healthy, but displays some questionable behavior. More often than not, I observe him either sitting dog-style or laying down completely when eating. He did have a cough for a week or so, most pronounced in the morning, but that has since cleared up. Should I be concerned with this behavior? I know sitting dog-style is sometimes an indication of illness, but, like I said, he otherwise exhibits no other symptoms of being unhealthy. He’s active, alert, playful, normal stool, etc.

  16. Jami says:

    Just wanted to add to this wonderful discussion –

    Wood Coal (or biochar) is a negative substance, that is to say it pulls from the body/earth. Char pulls – minerals and other substances like chemicals, heavy metals, etc. this is why it is use for overdoses in hospitals. So if animals are eating it they must need a cleaning and know it.

    Animals are not getting minerals from char, as you suspected Walter. However one could load char by soaking it in Kelp water say and then feed it. Once loaded, char is a slow release mechanism. After loaded it is a wonderful soil amendment. People crush char and soak in a bucket with water and urine or dung to load, then mix it into the top soil for a slow release of nutrients.

    Regarding DE:
    I’ve wondered if maybe the water of the gut doesn’t surround the DE particles preventing them from ‘cutting’ as they do when dry. I too have not seen conclusive proof of DE working internally in animals. I have more hope for soap added to the water :-)

    • Hmm… I don’t agree. I’ve heard people say that and I’ve heard people talk about using charred wood as a mineral source. Our animals aren’t in a situation of heavy metals or other toxins yet they like to eat the charred wood. It think it may be more complex than you’re supposing.

  17. Jami says:

    It certainly could be . . . .
    Like you I do a lot of research, from different angles (agendas), and I’ve used the char in my garden as a slow release of loaded nitrogen. So far I’ve never found anything on it having minerals, but it could be something else. The animals know best.

  18. traye says:

    I have a question about rotating pigs to control parasites. Here in SE NC our winters are nothing like yours and with the exception of the last few years it rarely stays below freezing for more than one day night cycle in a row so we don’t get that control advantage you have. We are blessed with having food available in the fields for the full year.

    I’m in the process of dividing the acres the pigs get to move around on. My question centers on area they move THROUGH. I want them to be able to move from a planted fields to areas of oaks and hickory. I can let them have access for a few weeks to a forested area and field then rotate them to a new area but I can’t really cut them off from the access path in between. In your experience would you worry about them “contaminating” a new area by walking on the same path they had walked on when feeding on the old areas? I feed garlic and look at poo all the time and have seen no sign of anything and I want to keep it that way. Thanks.

    • I have wondered too about the issue of the areas that they move through but have not seen a problem with that. Same for the central whey and water feeding areas not being a problem. I suspect that this is because the deposit the majority of their manure spread out in the pastures. It might also be because we have long cold winters or other factors that are not clearly apparent such as perhaps the copper in our soils. Even most of our common areas such as paths get a break. Keep observing and noticing things.

  19. Matt Connors says:

    Hi Walter. I have 2 gilts out of 7 that look like they need a deworming. They are 7 months old and I can feel their ribs,hips and back bones. These 2 are from a different litter. I plan on a dose of ivermectin for those 2. All 7 share a paddock.

    Should I be concerned with deworming the rest of them? The rest look great. Should I quarantine the 2?

    Thanks for any answers. Your advice is always wonderful.

    • While it is possible that just those two have an issue due to weak constitutions letting the parasites get out of control I would suggest that if you’re going to deworm some, deworm them all in this situation because if some of the worms all have the worms. Observe withdrawal times before slaughter.

  20. Amanda says:

    I have a sow who is not showing any of the signs you listed but is grinding her teeth often. She is a American Guinea Hog and have heard from other owners that this is common, but she recently had a litter and is in her own area so easier to observe. She has been grinding her teeth more often and her poop seems more clumpy. If I would start her on garlic, how much would you suggest. I would say she is about 150 lbs maybe a little more. She is nursing 8, two week old piglets as well. Thanks for any input.

    • Interesting, I have not heard of teeth grinding as being an indicator. See the amount I recommend at the top. 150 lb / 500 lb x 1 oz = 0.3 oz per day. A fecal test will find out exactly what you’re dealing with and then you can make more informed decisions. A vet can do a fecal and you can even learn to do it at home using directions on the web. If that does not give the relief needed then consider hitting with three doses of Fenbendazole followed by an injection of Ivermec. I was having a conversation with our vet this spring and she was amazed at how well our animals looked using the methods we used. During that discussion she mentioned that new research has shown that triple punch of Fenben followed by Ivermec has recently been shown to be much more effective than either alone. She said the research showed that the Fenbendazole activated the parasites making them more vulnerable to the Ivermec. Good to know if one has a hard parasite problem that isn’t responding to other deworming methods.

      • Amanda says:

        Thanks, I am pretty bad at math conversions so I appreciate the help. I am gonna try the garlic as she seems fine otherwise. And the piglets are doing great. Like I said on the agh forum they say it’s a common trait, so I am hoping it’s a just a annoying habit. We treat also with pumpkins and acorns in the fall. They have a pasture/ wooded area with a lot of acorns, black walnuts. They also get a lot of pecans. Hoping the added garlic will be enough for now though I will write down the fenbendazolr/ ivermectin suggestion. I appreciate your time.

  21. Brian Smith says:

    We have been reading lately about using raw apple cider vinegar. There seems to be a fair amount of emerging information regarding it in reference to higher efficency of food and mineral digestion causing lower feed consumption. Also causes animals to repel flies and help with internal parasites. Do you have any experience with this? We are just getting started and only have a hand full of goats and one pregnant gilt (bacon seeds due end on August).

    • We feed whey, apples and apple crushings (pomace) which have a similar acidification effect on the digestion which research has shown to be helpful in reducing parasite populations. I have not done double-blind controlled testing of the apple or vinegar so I can’t say for sure.

  22. Farmerbob1 says:


    You mentioned feeding pine boughs, and then later mentioned that you skipped testing with turpentine.

    Turpentine can be distilled from pine sap. I suspect the active deworming agent is the same.

  23. clk says:

    hi there.

    birds lack the taste receptors to taste capsaicin, the “heat” of hot peppers. it’s why people recommend mixing cayenne pepper powder in with birdseed to keep squirrels away – the squirrels taste it and dislike it, while the birds don’t notice at all.

    that’s why your birds were fine with it but the other animals disliked the hot pepper as a de-wormer.


  24. Don and Jane Schreiber says:

    Walt – Fantastic information, as always, thank you. However, not hard to confuse me, so, do you feed the garlic continuously after the chemical de-worming (if needed), or do you feed for “about a week”, as it says at the outset of the post?

    We were originally so inspired by your blog to we bought pigs and we’re now on our third year of raising for our family. Also inspired by Ron Koshla and built a processing and cooling (Coolbot) facility and slaughter (or hunt) and process swine, bison, beef, and elk. Four head of swine this year out here on our remote New Mexico ranch.

  25. Laurie says:

    I read all of the comments in addition to your article. Thank you for directing me to it.

    I wanted to add that plantain (weed, not the banana like fruit) deworms VERY effectively. We bought 2 young foals that we brought home. They were never deformed nor worked with in any way. They had a lot of worms evident in their manure. We read that plantain is not only nutritious, but is a great dewormer for people (most often used in tea form). We decided to try it on the foals. We picked 5 gallon pails full and fed the fresh leaves to them. They ate it like it was candy. They continued to eat what they wanted from what was offered each day for 2 weeks. After the 2 weeks, they lost interest in it and no longer wanted to eat the plantain. We noticed at that point that there was no longer evidence of worms.

    Our plantain season is now close to done and our cow has eaten it all up where our big patch is anyway. That is why I was asking about other methods.

    We have used plantain with our chickens as well after our findings and so far it seems to be working for the internal parasites at least.

    My understanding is that all forms of plantain weed are safe and effective. The whole plant is use able. As a bonus, the tiny seeds are high in Omega 3.

    • Interesting about the plantains. We have tons of them, literally, in our pastures. They do very well in our soils and climate. And the pigs like them. Plantain is also medicinal in other ways from what I’ve read. Plantains have a very good root system and seem to do well with grazing. Add that to the long list of plants that help control parasites and one more reason why pastured pigs do well.

  26. Heidi MillerHeid says:

    Our first sow had her first litter of 11, 4 days ago. We are seeing lice on her and her piglets. We tried DE 2 days ago and don’t see much improvement. I’m hesitant, under these conditions to attempt an injection for the first time. I’m willing to give the feed additive of ivomectrin to the sow, but what can be done for the piglets? Also, we have no where else to put her and her piglets so I’m not sure how to treat her run in shed and bedding.
    We did not realize she was ready to farrow, it took us by surprise

    • I’ve never had to deal with lice on piglets so I can’t give you direct experience. What I have read and heard from others is that an injection of Ivermec is highly effective as is giving them a coating on their skin of vegetable oil. The old time solution was motor oil but I do not recommend that because of the toxic additives in motor oil. I have heard directly from someone who used the vegetable oil at my suggestion that it did work very well. Pour it along their back, get it in their arm pits and behind and inside ears. Note that the bedding is going to have lice and lice eggs in it so I would suggest treating all of them (sow + piglets) and then moving them to a new location with fresh bedding. Let the old bedding compost or burn it. Your cloths could end up transmitting lice to other areas – beware.

  27. Andrew says:

    Joel Salatin often repeats the phrase “most pathogens don’t cross-speciate”.

    I am wondering what the truth is about roundworms migrating between pigs, chicken, sheep and cattle.
    Research says there are different types of roundworms that affect each, but some anecdotal cases on the internet suggest that ascarium suum (pig roundworm) can live and be detrimental to cattle and sheep, any thoughts from anyone on this?

    I raise pigs, chickens, sheep and cattle- and while I’m building my perimeter fences, they are in closer proximity to one another than i would like.

    I’m specifically worried about roundworms going from my pigs to my sheep and cattle. I recently found some roundworm infestation in some of my piglets, which is why my concern is up.


    • It’s not quite true. Some pathogens easily cross species boundaries but many are species specific. Some will cross but can’t spread from there – terminal hosts. Good managed rotational grazing goes a long ways toward resolving a lot of the worm issues.

  28. Samantha Shannon says:

    Hey there,

    This past Sunday, one of our Large Black sows farrowed a litter of 16 piglets and then fell ill, and her milk never let down. We didn’t have oxytocin on hand, so couldn’t administer that. Most of the piglets were lost, but we have been trying to save the rest (5). We are on day 6, with 3 remaining. (One suffered from severe hypoglycemia, and the other had severe joint ill.) Day one we used colostrum, and since have been using a milk replacer, and adding pro-bios. In between feedings, I give them electrolytes. They have all been ill at one point or another. All of them appear(ed) to have joint ill, and we have been treating them with 1/2cc penicillin. Only one has fully recovered, the other two still have swollen feet/joints. They have all had scours on and off since Monday.
    I plan to add baby rice cereal to their food to help. I was wondering if it is too soon to give them garlic powder? This could possibly help with infection, as well as treating them for worms, which would be great because they are currently living in my kitchen! If they are still too young, when can i start adding this to their food? Any other advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • You are doing the right sorts of things. It is very hard to care for newborn piglets. Realize that some wouldn’t make it even with the sow as pigs’s solution to predation and problems is to over produce. I would get yogurt into them to help with the scours but it may take more than that.

      The best thing to bottle feed piglets is sow milk. I milk sows for this sometimes. It is freezable. The early colostrum is key to get to piglets. Grafting them onto another sow is ideal if possible.

      In a less than best world blend and warm to 103°F:
      Whole milk (goat, cow, human or sow all work)
      Yogurt culture (live yogurt)
      White sugar
      Cod liver oil
      Half a human vitamin with selenium and iron in it
      A lightly cooked scrambled egg

      Third best is UniMilk or similar colostrum and then milk replacer which you can get at farm supply stores.

      They need about 2oz about every two hours at the start – you’re past that point. They should be able to learn to eat from a dish now.

      • Samantha Shannon says:

        Thank you so much for your response. Your website and blogs have been a great source of information for us for years. The piglets have been successfully pan trained since day one, as I have had bad luck with aspiration using bottles. I used a very shallow round baking dish…it’s been a miracle. The piglets are still alive, and two are thriving. As of now, no more scours. One has recieved penicillin for one week, and is still suffering from joint ill. I don’t want to give up on her, why do you recommend? I would be willing to try garlic, or any other natural anti-bacterial. Anything is worth a shot. How much would you recommend (if at all)…they are 9 days old.

        Also, we had another sow farrow on Saturday (6 days after the last sow) We are unsure about putting the orphans on the new sow, as she already has 13 piglets to feed. We are also mildly concerned about their general health, and issues with cross-contamination between the two litters. Thoughts? Thanks again.

        • I don’t tend to give up. As long as the animal is willing to keep trying and not die I provide at least palliative care. I’ve seen recoveries that were amazing. There are some joint issues that can come from bacterial infections and others from deficiencies. In such a young pig I would expect the former rather than the latter. If the new sow as 13 I would not graft these on.

  29. Josh says:

    Would that be 1 ounce by weight(28.35grams) or one 8 ounce by volume(2tablespoons)????

    • Volume. Really inexact but precise enough.

      • Josh says:

        After a few days with no answer answer I decided to use weight, which was actually way more than 1 oz by volume. I have 3 American Guinea hogs which are pooping out these huge worms. I gave them this dose for 8-10 days in a row, which I mixed into their fermented feed. A week or two later I saw huge long worms in their poop again. Every time I have seen these worms they appear dead….totally motionless. But this was the case both before I wormed with garlic and after, so not sure what that means.

        • I find the garlic powder very effective but if you have a heavy infestation then it may be in their muscles as cysts and in their lungs as well which then are repopulating the gut. This may take months to work out. Ivermectin may be a better choice in this case.

          • Josh says:

            Thanks for your advice. Could it be possible that they were just pooping out the dead worms killed by the garlic? The worms did not move at all. Even when prodded with a stick. Then again, the worms in the poop appeared dead before I treated with garlic also. There was also a totally motionless worm hanging out of the rectum of one of the pigs in both cases (before and after garlic). The oddest thing is that I have had these 3 AGH’s for a couple months now and they have not shown the typical sickly behavior of animals with a worm issue. They seem totally unphased by it. They are also all VERY overweight because the previous owner fed them corn every day. But they dont seem to have lost any noticeable weight since I got them two months ago. I don’t get it…

          • Yes, could be dead. In a week you should be dealing with just small dead ones coming out that were previously in the lungs or encysted in the muscle and hatching. in time they may all clear out.

  30. Aubrey says:

    Have really enjoyed reading your blog. Really Creative thoughtful approach to raising pigs. We have a pastured pig farm and prefer not to use ivermectin If possible. Curious how you monitor worm levels to ascertain effectiveness of dewormer.
    Thank you

    • Agreed. I use Ivermectin minimally due to the issue of it possibly killing of soil fauna.

      • Aubrey says:

        That’s my concern as well. But it’s good to have it when you need it. It’s why I was interested in using garlic powder in my pig ration. You mentioned that you noticed a decrease in worms immediately after you use it, how could you tell? Big dead worms in the poop or do you have another way to monitor eggs… have a goat raising buddy with a microscope and a slide for this. Haven’t heard of people doing this for pigs. Might be a way to target infestation as opposed to regularly dosing with chemicals.
        Thank you

  31. Nina Bane says:

    I love your blogs. They are so funny and even more informative. I must say though, that I’m surprised to read that you give your dogs garlic. Garlic is toxic to dogs because it contains thiosulfate, which damages the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells, which can lead to hemolytic anemia. I don’t know how it affects other animals, but do know for sure it isn’t good for dogs. We use raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, with the mother, for our chickens to keep them worm free. Just a tsp per gallon of water is enough to work. It makes the body ph higher than normal, which makes for an unlivable environment for the worms. We have never had a problem with worms since doing this, and have no issues with flavor of meat or eggs.

  32. Aubrey Noelke says:

    We grind and mix our own feed on our farm and I am trying to formulate a worming ration using garlic powder to be used in a bulk feeder offered free choice to feeder pigs. Using your ratio of 1 oz per 500 lb pig per day and assuming 4 percent of body weight as daily consumption of feed I came up with 1 oz garlic per 20 lb of feed. So 100 oz or 6.25 lb of garlic powder per ton.
    Appreciate your input,
    Does that seem in the right ballpark?
    Your blog has been a great resource.

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