Oct 112010
 
Backyard Chickens

Backyard chickens. "Violet" the rooster with two of his ladies.

Keeping backyard chickens is very popular these days.  Chickens are easy to keep, even in a small area and the eggs and meat you get from them taste wonderful. Anyone that is keeping backyard chickens needs to be aware that internal parasites can be a real problem.  Many people prefer to try a natural or herbal chicken parasite remedy before they move to the harsher chemical wormers.

I personally don’t know how effective natural or herbal chicken parasite remedies are at eliminating an existing parasitic worm infestation but I think they can be effectively used to help prevent infestations in the first place.

First, to help prevent parasitic infestations in your existing flock, quarantine any new birds that you buy for at least 30 days.  Do not let them near your flock and take fecal samples to a local vet for testing.  Treat these birds if you need to and make sure that the parasites are under control before you let them around your flock of chickens.

Second, if you think you have a parasitic worm infestation in your established flock, take fecal samples to your local vet to find out what types of parasites you have to treat for. 

Whether you use natural or herbal chicken parasite remedies or chemical remedies, you have to remember that all parasites have a life cycle.  Even if you manage to kill the adults with your first treatment, there will still be eggs inside your chickens that will hatch and start the cycle over again.  The typical cycle of most parasites is 2 -8 weeks so be sure and treat more than once during this period of time.  Then take more fecal samples to your vet to be sure that the parasitic worm load is under control.

There are some natural remedies that many people swear by.  I still worm my birds once a year with chemical wormers but I do also use the more natural or herbal chicken parasite remedies throughout the year.

Garlic in your chicken’s water is touted as being very effective at controlling internal parasites when used in conjunction with worm repelling plants like wormwood and mintPumpkin seeds that are chopped up or ground up are supposed to help control tapeworms in hens.

Effective pasture management is the only way to effectively control parasites on your land at the moment.  The best way to keep chemicals out of your pastures is to rotate your chickens from field to field. That will allow the parasites to die when your chickens are not in these areas. 

Planting natural plants that help repel parasites can also be done.  Wormwood is a decent sized bush and peppermint is a creeper.  You chickens will use both as natural hiding places.  They will also pick at the leaves and brush against these plants which will help get rid of internal and external parasites.  Citronella or lemon grass grows in large clumps that have great smelling leaves. It is supposed to help keep flies, fleas and mites away. 

Other plants that are recommended for your chicken areas are:

  • Dandelion
  • Yarrow
  • Sage
  • Nasturtium

 These are just some suggestions to help minimize the parasite load in your chickens.  My belief is that natural or herbal chicken parasite remedies have their place in parasite control.  These plants provide cover for my chickens, add color and scent to my yard and help fight the battle against chicken parasites.  But, they only grow in the warm months so the rest of the year you are left without their parasite protections.  For that reason, in my opinion, it still makes sense to ensure the health your chicken flock by using a chemical wormer once a year.

To learn more about chicken keeping issues, CLICK HERE.



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Oct 062010
 

Parasitic worms in chickens are more common than most chicken owners know.  It is very easy for your chickens to pick up parasitic worms on the ground.  These eggs then grow into adult worms inside them.  The infected chicken then sheds these worms through their droppings and infects more birds in your flock.

Why Should You Worm Your Chickens?

Many poultry owners either don’t know they worm their flocks or they decide to rely on “natural” herbal treatments that are ineffective.  The results are a chicken environment with a very heavy parasitic worm load.  This will lead to birds that look bad, poor egg production and can lead to the death of your birds eventually.

 How Do You Kill The Parasitic Worms In Your Chickens?

There are several products on the market that you can try.  Be aware that most advertise that they kill 100% of the worms and while that may be true, parasitic worms have a lifecycle.  The products do not kill the eggs left behind so new worms will hatch and re-infest your birds.  So you will have to treat your birds more than once.  The typical lifecycle of most parasitic worms is from two to eight weeks.  So you need to repeat your treatments during this time frame to be sure and get rid of as many parasitic worms as you can.

 The other way to reduce parasitic worm numbers is to rotate your chicken turnout areas.  You need to have a couple of places for your chickens to roam so that you can “rest” one area at a time and rotate your chickens as needed.  Keep your grass cut short which will allow the sunlight to reach the ground and kill any eggs laying there.

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Parasitic worms in your chickens can be a real problem and you may not even be aware that your chickens are infested.  The best way to find out if your chickens have internal parasites is to take fecal samples to your local vet to have them tested. Your vet can tell you what types of parasites your chickens have, what you should treat them with and how often. If you don’t have a vet in your area that will do this, it is best to assume that they do have parasites and treat them with a broad spectrum wormer at least once a year.  Remember to allow for the life cycles of the worms and treat more than once during this time frame. 

For more information on chicken care and common chicken parasites, CLICK HERE.



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Oct 042010
 

There are a number of chicken health problems that can crop up seemingly overnight.  Common chicken health problems include chicken fleas and mites which can suck the life out of your chickens.  Many people commonly misdiagnose the two.

I have a friend who has been raising chickens for years.  She called me the other day completely freaked out and said there were tiny parasites in her hen house and she didn’t know what they were.  When she went out to clean the bedding out, the parasites were crawling all over her, her kids and upon close examination, her chickens. 

She doesn’t do well with bugs so she asked me to run out there and take a look at them and help her out because she was so grossed out by the parasites.  When I got there, we caught a few of the chickens and we figured out that they were covered with chicken fleas, not mites as she first suspected. So we had to figure out how to get rid of them. 

The important distinction here was that these parasites were chicken fleas because they live on the birds themselves, not just in the hen house and chicken run.  Red mites only come out when it gets dark to feed and they pretty much hide out in the hen house.  Where as chicken fleas crawl around all over the place and will crawl all over you when you get within range which is how they spread.  I had to be very careful that I didn’t take them home to my flock!

After some research, we found out that we had to do a complete kill of everything; the hen house, the chicken feeders, chicken waters, the perches, the chicken run, etc. with malathion.  We used a flea bomb first in the chicken house and we gave the chickens a malathion bath.  This is just what we decided to use however, there are several products that you can use to kill the chicken fleas.  They have a lifecycle that you have to interrupt so you have to treat for them every four days until they are gone.

She was lucky in that her husband is very handy and it was warm outside.  He put up a quick, ugly temporary “shed” for the birds for a few weeks.  It was made out of some old plywood and chicken wire that he had.  Then he tore it down after the chickens were moved back to their original home.

The key to preventing chicken health problems is to regularly dust your hen house, chicken run and your birds so that you don’t get this type of infestation.

Click Here  to get more information on common chicken health problems and raising healthy chickens.

Do you want to build your own chicken coop?   Click Here to get more information on chicken coop designs and chicken coop blueprints.



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