Chickens are prone to intestinal worms, parasites that live in the gastrointestinal system. Chickens pick up these worms if they eat contaminated feed. This is especially in a free-range setting where wild birds and animals leave their droppings. Since they will pick up the worms once in a while, it is prudent to deworm your chickens on a regular basis.
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The danger of Worms in Chickens
Worms can affect your flock negatively. They can lead to weight loss, reduction in the number of eggs, and sometimes death.
Worms feed on the blood of chickens by sucking blood from the intestinal lining. This can lower the immunity of your chickens in turn exposing them to other sicknesses that can lead to death.
Types of Worms that Affect Chickens
Out of the 100 or so species of worms that can infect chickens, the most common worms in chickens are roundworms, tapeworms, and gapeworms.
Gapeworms, also known as lungworms affect the lungs. They can lead to respiratory problems by limiting the intake of oxygen in the lungs. This will lead to a decrease in production, lowered immunity, and eventually death.
Chickens are mostly affected by roundworms. They enter the chicken’s gut system when the chicken ingests feed that is contaminated with the worms. Signs that your chickens have roundworms include pale faces, reduced appetite, diarrhea, reduction in the number of droppings, stunted growth, weight loss, and reduction in the number of eggs. In a severe infestation, you will see worms in the chicken droppings.
Tapeworms also affect the gut system of chickens. The signs of a tapeworm infestation are similar to those of roundworms. These are the worm in eggs and droppings, diarrhea, for my droppings, loss of weight, pale comb and wattles, restlessness, worm coming out of the mouth, gasping and stretching of the neck as if trying to clear something from the throat and in case of a severe infestation, death.
Deworming Your Chickens.
Deworming chickens is part of chicken care and should be done routinely. Veterinarian experts advise that deworming should be done at least twice a year.
The good news is that deworming is an easy task that can be done by the poultry keeper and dewormers are readily available over the counter and online.
There are several products available for deworming. Fenbendazole is the only approved dewormer in the united states and comes in several brand names such as Safe-Guard and AquaSol. Fenbendazole can be found in some chicken feeds. Other dewormers you can get over the counter include Albendazole, Ivermectin, and Levamisole. Another common dewormer is Piperazine but is no longer used in the United States.
There are also natural dewormers that can be added to chicken feed and water. These include citrus peel ethanolic extracts, garlic, turmeric, papaya seed powder, diatomaceous earth, and pumpkin seeds.
Protecting your Chickens From Worms
As a poultry keeper, you should put measures to reduce the risk of worms in your backyard chickens. These include:
- Hygiene – Keep the coop and range free from the feces of other birds and animals.
- Balanced and Nutritious Feed – A balanced diet will help the birds have a strong immune system which helps their bodies fight off the effects of worms.
- Routine Deworming – Deworming your chickens at least twice a year will keep worms at bay. This can be done through medicated feed or adding dewormers to their drinking water.