Chicken Coop Chatter©
(September 29, 2014 Top Blog as posted on Backyard Poultry Magazine)
Worms are common in chickens, although all are not created equal. Some are easy to eradicate while others may take some stronger means. The most common worm in chickens is the roundworm, however there are hair worms, gizzard worms, tapeworms, gapeworms and caecal worms that can infest fowl.
The roundworm is found in the digestive system and will usually show up in the droppings. The other worms, such as the gapeworm, are found in the lungs and trachea, esophagus and intestines.
Prevention, as always, is the best method. Old poultry books recommended crushed garlic or black pepper added to the water, while more modern preventions recommend pumpkin, squash and seeds. Since chickens love pumpkin, squash and the seeds, these are easy to provide. Plus, the seeds freeze and dry well so you can have a year round supply.
Keeping the litter in coops and runs cleaned up and rotating free-range areas can help prevent parasites. Worm eggs thrive in cooler, damp, muddy environments so providing stumps, ladders or wood pallets will help keep the chickens up out of the mud and muck. The watering area is a magnet for worms. The chickens gather at the water, causing spillage or there may be a dripping hose keeping the area soggy. Setting up a watering station out of the mud or fixing a dripping hose is helpful.
If there is a worm infestation, you may notice the chickens coughing, gagging and a reduction in egg laying. With some worm infestations there may also be weight loss, which becomes serious if not detected early. With feathers it is difficult to tell if a bird is losing weight without picking them up and weighing them. If weight loss becomes too severe before noticed it can cause death.
You can have a vet test for worms; however, a regular prevention or de-worming will generally ensure that your chickens are worm free and will save you the costs of veterinarian services. Even a vet that does not treat chickens will generally do a worm test if needed.Never worm a chicken or any animal that is ill. When you do worm by using a commercial product, it is imperative that you read the instructions thoroughly for dosage and duration of usage and whether it affects the eggs. When in doubt, search that product on the internet for complete instructions. Always provide plenty of fresh clean water and even if you have added a wormer to the water, make sure you change that water at least daily.
One product that covers a variety of worms is Wazine, however there is an organic wormer available Verm-X (this one indicates no egg withdrawal time), but will only treat the most common round worm. At Just Fowling Around, we findWazine is best for overall treatment and Verm-X is best for maintenance treatment.
When treating one chicken, treat all, even if you only notice one chicken with an infestation, they will all get worms from sharing feed and water containers and from walking through infested droppings. Do not allow your dogs to eat the chicken droppings. I know it’s yucky, but it’s a fact of dog life and needs to be avoided if at all possible.
A good time to worm is in fall, so the birds are not carrying the parasites through the winter months and again early spring as the temperatures begin to warm up. An easy way to remember is the first day of Fall and the first day of Spring. Even with preventatives in place, chickens and other fowl can get worms that have built up in free-range areas and in litter, so it’s a good idea to have a routine worming session and to have de-worming medication in your chicken first aid kit.
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