What a hot topic this always seems to be across the poultry world and backyard chicken keepers. Some folks, will tell you that they never deworm their flocks. Others, will tell you that they religiously deworm their flock every six months. Some use traditional deworming products while others prefer natural preventatives. I thought today, I’d spend a little time chatting with you about worms.
However, before we blast off into this chat about worms remember, when making any sorts of chicken keeping decisions please:
1. Do your research.
2. There are lots of people with strong opinions out there. Do what works for you and your flock. Only you and your vet can make the right decision.
3. Explore all of your options.
There are a few different types of worms that can affect chickens in different ways and live in different places along their gastrointestional tracts. The more common worms that chicken keepers deal with are tape worms, round worms, hair worms, gape worms, and caecal worms. Chickens that have worms can show a decrease in egg laying, weight loss, diarrhea, pale egg yolks, coughing or rasping, head shaking, lethargy, and even death.
Sometimes worm infestations are visible to the naked eye. Other times, it is helpful to seek out assistance from a local veterinarian that can run a relatively inexpensive test to detect worms invisible to the naked eye. All vets are capable of running this test.
Having your flock tested for worms serves four purposes:
1. Can confirm a positive diagnosis.
2. Can tell you what types of worms you are treating.
3. Prevents unnecessary use of medications, which stresses the flock.
4. Retest after you have treated your flock for worms to be sure the treatment was effective.
Once the presence of worms in your flock is confirmed, it is best to treat the entire flock. It is important to remember that worms typically have a life cycle from 2 to 8 days. This means that in most cases, your flock will sometimes require two courses of medication. There are quite a few commercial products available on the market today for deworming. It is wonderful that chicken keepers have options. Many of those options are available “over the counter”. When selecting a dewormer for your flock, you will need to know what type of worm(s) your chickens have. Different deworming products target different types of worms. Deworming is stressful on chickens, so avoid deworming under six weeks of age, during the winter, or during the fall molt. Please note that the below medications are those available at time of this publication (October 2014) and are subject to change. Prior to treating your flock, please check for updated information and always read the package insert. Here are some more tips when the need for medicating your flock arises.
You ask, what is an egg withdrawal period? This means that during the medication treatment all eggs need to be thrown away. They cannot be composted, fed back to the flock, or eaten. After the medication, the package insert will tell you when you can resume eating eggs. The day after the medication is finished, is the first day of egg withdrawal. This can go on for weeks after the last dose of medication. The egg withdrawal period is there to protect you, the consumer. You do not want to inadvertently ingest the medication that your flock was on. It can linger in the eggs and meat of the birds.
1. Sunlight helps to kill the worm eggs.