As the Autumnal Equinix approaches the long days of summer finally retreating, this is a perfect time to consider worming your flock. Chickens, if allowed to free range, will spend most of the “dog days of summer” dining on, bugs, weeds, grass and other delectibes they find scurring about. Worm are mostly associated with dogs, such as the dreaded heartworm, but chickens can also contract worms as well. Due to the fact that most backyard chickens flocks have access to green grass, sunshine, fresh air, and bugs, they will mostly likely pick up worms.
While worms in your flock may be a scary prospect to face, take heart, the fact that your flock needs a routine deworming means your ladies are living the good life. Look at deworming your flock as a badge of honor, a testiment to the freedom and contact wtih the outside world that many chickens are denied.
Knowing that worms are a given in a backyard flock that lives the good life, how it is determined that a flock has worms?
The worms that infect the digestive track of chickens are by in large round worms. They are most often discovered while cleaning the coop or removing the poop from the previous nights roost. Worms present in chicken dropping will look like fine angel hair spaghetti (I know the word picture is rather discusting, sorry about that). The worms may or may not be moving, however, it will be clear to any keeper that white spaghetti strands found on your coop floor is not a normal occurance.
If you find worms on the floor of your coops when cleaning, this indicates that not only does your flock have worms but the load within their bodies is esculated. Allow me to explain.
A chickens body is able to handle a worm load within the normal parameters. Chickens evolved to live outdoors in constant contact with these parasites. Their bodies up to a certain point can tolerate a normal worm load in their digestive tract while remaining healthy. It is when this balance becomes compromised that problems arise. One of the indications of problems is finding worms on the floor of your coop when cleaning.
What problems do an unchecked heavy worm load cause?
Chickens with a heavy worm load will sucumb to several health issues, the most common is weight loss. If you notice a hen who has begun to look rather skinny despite eating well, she may have a higher than normal worm load within her body.
You will also notice chickens with worms will have a dirty vent area, often caused by runny poop which sticks to their vent feathers. Listliness is also common in chicikens with a heavy worm load. The worms in the digestive tract consume the energy from the food they eat. This will leave hens with a heavy worm load weak and often present with an apperance of ill health. A hen who does not move very much or does not leave the coop during the day is most likely weak and suffering from a worm overload.
If the worm load in the hens body is allowed to persist it is possible for keepers to find worms in the eggs. In the end, a heavy worm load will eventually result in death of the hen. Worms in a flock will need to be addressed.
So how does a keeper deal with worms in their flock?
Treating your flock for worms is a very easy and straight forward procedure. To address this issue in your flock you will need several things: wormer, syringe with the needle removed and a partner.
To date there is no dewormer on the market that is FDA approved for chickens. What this means is that the FDA has not specifically set aside funds and performed test to determine the affectiveness of dewormers developed specifically for chickens. Do not let this both you, it is safe to use dewormers produced for other livestock administered at certain doses that are safe for chickens.
**Disclaimer** The following is my methodoly in deworming my flock. Keep in mind I am not a professionally trained veteraniran nor am I suggesting that my opinions should repace proper vet care given the situation. I share this infomration based on my experience in treating worms in my flock throughout the past decade. I do have some resources that validate my metholodogy.
For treating worm in my flock I use Safe Guard dewormer marketed for goats. I like Safe Guard because it is a broad-spectrum dewormer. Not only will it treat round worms in your flock but it will also treat other worms as well (gape worms, flat worms, lung worm etc.).
Safe Guard is sold OTC (Over-the-counter) at most farm/feed stores, its carries a MSRP of about $30-$50 depending on location.
To deworm with Safe Guard you will need to orally administer the dewormer to every individual in your flock. This dewormer is NOT mixed in food or water, it has to be administered following specific dosage directly to the bird.
For Bantam breeds administer 1/2cc or 1/2 ml. (metric system measurments; I cc converts to 1 ml)
For Standard breeds administer 3/4 cc or 3/4 ml
Using the measurment indications on your syringe, measure the correct dosage directly from the bottle (do not dilute) and put directly into the beak of the chicken. The chicken will need to swollow the dewormer, so if they spit it out, you will need to try again.
I have found through expeirnce that obtaining a syring with a curved tip is best when orally administring dewormer to the flock. These syringes are often stocked by dentist and oral surgery offices. When I visit my dentist for my annual cleaning, (in addition to the oral care sample bag) I will ask for some of their curve tipped syringes for my chickens. They happily ablige my rather strange request.
Once your flock has been dewormed, you will need to administer again in 10-14 days. The first dose of dewormer will kill all of the live worms that reside in the digestive tract of your birds. The second dose will kill and remove any eggs that may have hatched during the first dosing.
Note: duirng treatment you will need to observe a 20-28 days egg withdrawl. Any eggs laid duirng treatment are not edible for human consumption. In addition to residue from the dewormer it is possible to get worm fragments in your eggs. If you sale your eggs, advise your customers that you will not be able to sale any eggs till the egg withdrawl period has passed.
Once your flock has completed the deworming treatment process, your flock will be free of worms and health status should imporve.
Another Note: It is not necessary to deworm as a preventative, this actually does more harm than good. A chickens body has evolved to handle a certain worm load without any ill affects to health. Only when you notice indication of an advanced worm load in your flock do you need to act. If you worm your flock as a preventative you will reduce the natural ability of your flock to regulate a worm load within set evolutionary parameters.
Think of it like antibacterial soap. If we constantly wash our hands with antibacterial soap we reduce our bodies natural ability to build an immunity to the normal bacteria in our environment. Thus, reducing our bodies natural ability to adapt to the contact of these particular normal microbes. The same is applied to your flock. It may be tempting to act as a preventative but in the end, your flock will incur more harm than benifit.
Only deworm when signs of increased worm load are present in your flock.
Below I will link a video from my YouTube channel demonstrating deworming my flock. This will allow you to see my methodology and process so you can address worm in your flock.
I hope this post has been helpful in navigating worms and the process of deworming in your flock.
In addition to The Kuntry Klucker, I maintain a sister blog Knowledge Of The Spheres. If the subject matter of astronomy, astrophysics and anything space related interest you, please drop by.
As always, thanks for reading. Till next time, keep on crowing!
~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew~