Traffic Jams

I live in a town so small and quiet that we don’t even have a traffic light. Recently, though, I’ve been stuck in a few traffic jams.

I stopped to let this fox cross the road. By the time that I got my iPhone out, it moved into the woods and continued on her way – she’s heading up the road towards my backyard. So far, though, I haven’t seen this fox on my lawn.

fox by road



This mother mallard and her six ducklings stopped both lanes of traffic. See them heading under the guard rail? There’s wetlands on the other side of it. I should learn by now to have my camera at the ready! Sorry for the poor quality of the photo.

mother mallard



I had more time to take this photograph of the wild turkeys. They saunter. They do look like extras from Jurassic World, don’t they?

wild turkeys


The mallards and the turkeys are mostly ground dwelling birds. They travel in groups. As much as I like seeing them go from here to there, what I don’t want is for them to stay put on my property. Their droppings can contain parasites, and because of the size and habits of these wild birds, when they visit they leave a lot of fecal matter. I work diligently to keep my hens’ pens clean of manure. Manure management is the primary way to prevent internal worms in your flock. If the hens free-range where these wild birds have foraged, they can easily pick up worm eggs. This has been the case for a friend not too far from here who have had a large flock of turkeys take up residence in the woods behind their house. My friend’s coop is immaculately clean, but they still get roundworms. Another reader, in Florida, has a similar problem with feral peacocks.

It’s not easy to treat on-going infestations of worms with poultry. There are no approved drugs for laying hens. (Beware of “Rooster Booster” – it’s marketed as a drug that can control parasites, which it does, but it’s an antibiotic.) People do use OTC drugs (in the USA, unlike in European countries, you can purchase these at feed stores without a veterinarian’s prescription.) However, not all drugs work on all worms. If you’re going to go the route of chemical treatment, have a vet do a fecal exam and recommend the right drug for the species.


    • Most people don’t. For years, my dog vet who I had a wonderful relationship with, would send out the fecal as a favor to me. Or, if you can find a vet who does large animals or exotics, you might be able to convince them to run the fecal for you.

  1. I feed my young laying flock of 18 hens a commercial formula for layers and scratch complemented by weeds and greens from my vegetable garden as well as kitchen vegetable scraps. I just noticed one of my birds has watery stool so I came right to my laptop to learn what I could as to the cause and treatment. I immediately found your page, which is delightfully sensitive and informative. I enjoyed your traffic report and love the webcam. I think I’ll put one in my coop. I live in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico where my little garden and coop is on a city lot surrounded by high walls. I dream of living out of town but alas, our business keeps us on the concrete.

    My son is studying in Boston and two summers ago we visited him and spent a week staying in several campgrounds in the beautiful mountains and countryside near Boston. We loved it. It is so green compared to The Baja. It is beautiful in your area, but I sympathize with you on the winters.

    I am writing mostly to thank you but I do have a question you might be able to answer. I have read that food grade diatomaceous earth is a good remedy for mites and internal and exterior parasites. I cannot find “good grade” in our area. It is unheard of at our feed stores and pet stores here in La Paz. Could you please tell me if I might use “swimming pool grade” powdered diatomaceous earth just one time without dire effects on my birds. I can get the “food grade” when I travel to the US later this summer, but I would like to treat my birds if possible, before I leave on what could be a two or three month trip. I bought a treatment for parasites that I can add to their water for a few days, throwing away the eggs they produce during the treatment and for a couple of days afterward, but I prefer to treat them naturally. I will also be powdering them with wood ash and adding it to their bedding and dusting areas.

    You may have written about this already. A link to more info would be much appreciated.

    Best wishes,
    Linda Lambert

    • Good question about DE. There are two types – the “good” you mention is “food grade” not the type sold for purposes in gardens. It’s a fallacy that the DE destroys internal worms (it softens in the digestive tract and loses it’s ability to kill things) but it is effective on external parasites and the against the lifecycle of the worms when outside of the poultry. I’ve written about it in the context of providing dust baths here:

  2. We live in a very small rural village in The New Forest UK our traffic jams are made up of all types of wild animals but, also Horse’s, Cattle and Pigs as they are allowed to graze in the Forest.
    Do you have access to Flubenvet in USA, it is very affective on adult worms, larvae and eggs on all types of worm including Gapeworm. Marriages the food I use do a smaller bag of pellets with it already mixed in, very handy when you need it. Because of all the wild birds and mammals around and my girls have a large part of the garden I do worm them once a year in the spring. They say to do it more but I don’t like to. I do poop pick all of their grown at least once a day, two if I have time.
    Could your Girls get Blackhead from the wild Turkeys or do you not have that in USA ?
    Interesting blog as usual….:)

    • Yes, we have that here, but you aren’t legally allowed to give it to laying hens. Also, it doesn’t kill all internal parasites, and if used on an on-going basis, you’ll created worms that are not affected by it. Once a year is fine, but I’d still run a fecal first to see if it’s necessary at all. We do have blackhead disease here, but it’s more a problem with domestic fowl in close quarters.

  3. Hi Teri…..just looking @ the picture of wild turkeys…we have them here where I live in Northern Wisconsin, also! But I do see in the picture the ” beard” on a few of the them, so that tells me, they are males!! OK I enjoy your site….Sandy :)

  4. Just seen you working hard cleaning up on WebCam, can’t believe your temp’s and its only 10.30 am, you will need lots of cold drinks and ice cream ( good excuse for a sit down I think )…..:)

    • I was tidying up for the Chicken Keeping Class that I’m running here tomorrow. Am drinking iced coffee as I write this :)

  5. When I bought my goats a year ago the breeder suggested mixing food-grade DE into their minerals to help control internal parasites. She doesn’t regularly worm her herd (for reasons I won’t go into here) and only treats an animal that is showing symptoms of poor health. It seems to work. I wonder if the same method might help chickens as well? I already put DE in their dust bath to help control external parasites. I also put their grit in there (instead of a separate feeder). This encourages them to search for grit in their dust bath so they also ingest some of the DE. There is also the added bonus that it keeps them occupied on rainy days. Let me know you thoughts on this practice ,as this is my first year keeping chickens and I would like some expert advice.

    • I caught the link above, don’t bother answering about the DE, but I would still like to know if it is a good idea to put grit in with the dust bath. Thanks :)

      • You can put grit in the dust bath – it’s an easy way to make it accessible to them, but I prefer to put it in a separate feeder so that there’s less waste.

  6. People, people, people! I tuned in and saw you teaching class. Soooooo jealous, wish I was there too! Hope you had a wonderful time! Oh, groan, you usually make goodies too, don’t you? Now I really am jealous….