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Many small farmers and homesteaders use natural wormers for livestock in place of chemical alternatives. As with any alternative health protocol, do your research and consult with your veterinarian before starting any treatment protocol for parasites.
Let’s first discuss why you might consider an alternative to chemical wormers. Chemical wormers are easily obtained, easily administered, and touted as the answer to parasite infestations.
However, as with most chemical concoctions that can be used on the homestead, they come with some possible side-effects that you may want to consider.
One of the most prevalent side-effects of chemical wormers: Parasites may develop resistance, meaning that eventually they won’t be effective on your livestock and you’ll need to change wormers.
Another consideration is the residual chemicals that can be deposited in your soil when the wormer passes through your stock.
If you are raising livestock for meat consumption, you should consider the residual chemicals that may remain in your meat. If you sell your products to others, many of today’s consumers do not want to risk chemical residues in their meat.
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If you want to avoid the possibility of your wormer not working and the residual complications associated with chemical wormers, then consider some of these alternatives:
1. Herbal wormers. There are many pre-formulated herbal wormers available commercially for different types of livestock. You can also research and formulate your own. Be aware that herbs are powerful, and that caution should be used when mixing and dispensing to livestock.
2. Diatomaceous earth (DE). Food-grade diatomaceous earth is approved as an anti-caking agent in animal feeds. Make certain you obtain food grade, as other grades of diatomaceous earth are poisonous to animals or humans. For the best results, use DE continuously as a feed supplement.
3. Essential oils. Lots of small farmers have successfully used essential oils as an alternative worming protocol. Many of these oils should be diluted with a carrier oil such as coconut or olive oil before adding them. Some of the most common are: clove, nutmeg, fennel, vetiver, cumin, anise, tea tree, Idaho tansy, thyme and laurel leaf.
4. Garlic. Fresh garlic or garlic powder can be used as a wormer. Introduce the garlic over several days, to get the stock accustomed to it, increasing the amount over time. Garlic acts quickly on existing adult worms.
The best way to keep your livestock free of parasites is to use a regularly scheduled worming routine and practice good prevention methods.
Avoid keeping animals in close quarters for long periods of time. A good prevention method for keeping parasites to minimum is rotating your stock to clean pastures and shelters on a regular basis.
To test for parasite levels in your stock, it is best to have a veterinarian perform a fecal examination test — or you can learn to do these yourself.
As with any farming practices, do some research, test your methods and observe the results.
What are your favorite ways to de-worm your livestock? Share your advice in the section below:
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