Worming chickens is not a pleasant topic to discus but it is necessary. I have my chicken flock on a regular worming schedule but apparently, not everyone realizes the importance of regularly worming chickens.
There are 6 different types of worms that can be found in chickens.
- Hair worms – Can be found in the crop, oesophagus, proventriculus and intestine.
- Round Worms – Can found in the birds digestive system.
- Gizzard Worm – Can be found in the gizzard, mainly in geese.
- Tape Worm – Not very commonly found but are in the intestine.
- Gape Worm – Can be found in the lungs and trachea
- Caecal Worm – Usually do not cause a lot of damage but can be given to turkeys.
A worm infestation will make your birds weak and sick and in a worst case scenario, possibly even lead to death. It is much easier to prevent worms in your chicken flock than it is to treat your chickens once they have them.
How To Recognize A Worm Infestation
So, how will you know if your backyard chickens have some type of worms? The most commons signs of worms in your chickens is the actual condition of your individual birds. Any of your birds that are losing weight, failure to gain weight, eating more than usual, eggs that have a pale yolk, diarrhea and in severe cases, anemia. By the time your chickens have anemia, their combs and wattles will be very pale and there is a very good chance that they will die. When in doubt, you should consider worming your chickens.
If your hens are actually over loaded with worms, you will be able to see them in their droppings. Once they become visible, you have a very serious worm infestation. But, if you can’t see them, one of the best ways to know for sure if your hens have worms is to take a fecal sample to a local vet. The test itself if pretty cheap and will tell you for sure whether you have worm infested chickens or not. The vet doesn’t have to know anything about chickens as the parasites are pretty much the same as in dogs and other animals that they routinely see.
How To Treat Worms In Chickens
Most products promise to kill 100% of the worms which is great when you are worming chickens, but that only means the worms are killed, not the eggs. Remember, parasites have a life cycle and the worm is the adult stage of the cycle. More eggs will hatch if the worms were not killed before they were old enough to lay eggs and will re-infest your chickens. The life cycle of the different worms varies, but it is usually between 2 and 8 weeks. Worming your chickens on a regular schedule will ensure that you don’t have to ever manage the life cycle of these nasty critters.
Best case scenario, you know which parasite your chickens have so that you can taylor your treatment plan. But, assuming you aren’t sure, it is best to take a more aggressive approach to getting rid of chicken worms. Always follow the directions of the product that you use and if you have any doubts, contact your local vet for more specific instructions.
Flubenvet and Ivermectin are two of the most common chicken wormer products used to get rid of worms. Ivermectin is also great for treating other parasites like mites.
Worming chickens on a regular schedule is the best way to ensure their continued health. Always follow the directions when using chemicals on your birds. Usually, you have to confine the chickens for a day or two to get them to actually ingest the wormer as they will not like it! No one said that worming chickens was fun but it is absolutely necessary. I always throw away all eggs for at least 14 days after I treat the chickens. Be sure and read the directions so that you will know when it is safe to eat the eggs again. For me, it is much easier to worm the hens when they are molting. They are not laying very many eggs during this time so I don’t waste so many eggs.