Apr 7, 2012

Answers from The Chicken Vet on WORMING

WORMING Chickens
The Chicken Vet answers questions about Worming chickens
Today's question in my series "Answers from The Chicken Vet" comes from Linda M.:

Q: "Do you need to worm preventative or only with symptoms?
A: Great question Linda! It's a little more complicated than it appears at first blush, however. The obvious follow-up would be "what preventative drugs would you use?" This is even more complicated.

There are several types of worms that cause infections (helminthiases in vet-speak). There are tape-worms, roundworms, threadworms and flatworms. If you are interested in weird life-cycles, they are a LOT of fun. For example, the tapeworm Prosthogonimus macrorchis has to have its egg eaten by a water snail, where they reproduce asexually creating "cercariae". The cercariae then infect immature dragonflys. The dragonflys metamorphose into adults, which makes the cercariae capable of infecting hens. A chicken then eats the adult dragonfly, completing the cycle. This little story should tell you 2 things....1 - be amazed how nature makes things work, and 2 - thank your lucky stars you did not have to sit through this stuff in vet school!
Roundworms in chicken droppings
Now, the practical aspects of worms and chickens. There are actually few worms that cause true disease in hens. There is gapeworm, which can cause respiratory distress, and some intestinal nematodes can cause some slowed growth, and threadworms can cause some production drops in commercial birds. All these infections assumedly cause some discomfort while the immature worms migrate through the body. But, there is not that much pathology that results from worm infections. There is an "ick" factor though. Many people don't like the idea of creepy-crawlies inside their birds. Plus, it is uncommon, but occasionally, birds that have a worm infection can produce an egg with a roundworm in it. Some people find this off putting. The other thing is that the hens will often carry quite a load of worms before showing any signs. This bothers some owners as well.

To control worms, the best strategy is to control the worms twice per year. Once when you bring the hens off range in the fall, and once when you go to put the hens back on range in the spring. The idea is that there will be an increase in worm load in the tighter quarters of the coop over winter. If you decrease the parasite load before you bring the birds in, the amount of worm eggs in the coop will grow slowly. Then when you move them back out on range, where the worms can continue with their life cycle, knock them back again, to slow the increase in numbers.
Roundworms in droppings.
Photo of roundworm in chicken droppings.
What product should you use to control worms? Here is an issue that gets some people’s dander up. Most worm medications have no claim for laying hens. As such, they won’t tell you how long not to eat the eggs after treatment, like many antibiotics do. The reason is simple....the research has not been done. It literally costs millions of dollars to get label claims on medications verified to the satisfaction of licensing bodies. Because modern egg farms have essentially no worm infections, it is not cost effective to get the claim on the drug in question. Poultry medication is a victim of its own success. The reality is that most of the products are safe, and most don’t even get into the egg....they are medications that affect the gut, and seldom are absorbed into the bloodstream. The problem is that there is no proof of their safety. Piperazine, (Wazine) levamisole, fenbendazole (Safe-guard) and hygromycin are all effective anthelminthics (anti-worm drugs....NEVER play scrabble against a vet!), and to keep resistance from developing in the worms in your chickens, you should rotate 2 or 3 of them in a program. Use product A in the fall, Product B in the spring, Product C in the following spring....etc.
I hope this answers your questions.
Dr. Mike Petrik, DVM, MSc
The Chicken Vet
Dr Mike Petrik, DVM, MSc
 The Chicken Chick is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick®

48 comments :

  1. What if your chickens are free range in the country all the time? I don't have the potential build-up with tight quarters. I never worm my chickens, and they seem fine. Thanks, Jane

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    1. Hi Jane.
      Worming is totally a personal choice. I don't worm mine and they are free-range all year long.

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  2. Judy Jacobs4/7/12, 5:05 PM

    I'd like information on dosage and egg withdrawal times.

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  3. Do you worm your chickens whether or not you see worms? I have 5 hens and a duck, and they free range in my yard (small, urban). THANK YOU

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    1. I don't, Kurtis but it's a personal decision that needs to be made by each chicken-keeper.

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  4. if a chicken has tapeworms will it scoot its' butt on the grass???? (I can't help myself) LOL

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  5. Piprazine, levamisole, fenbendazole and hygromycin are all effective anthelminthics (anti-worm drugs....NEVER play scrabble against a vet!) I find that fascinating. I by far am no vet. Piprazine is effective against rounds, levamisole is not available in the USA, fenbendazole is Panacure and only gets certain kinds of tapes. I have not heard of hygromycin. You should always rotate wormers. My question is, and I feel very strongly about this, Ivermectin has been around for too long and has become ineffective, it also kills Dung Beetles which are an important part of the environment as the literally eat poop. What are your feelings of Moxydectin. It is available in a pour on and a drench (for sheep and goats) and a pour on for cattle and such. The dose either way is 1 cc per 11 #. Just curious as the Vet I work for has been in practice for 53 years. He is not up to par on poultry (I think his first poultry patient was a pterodactyl) I always tease him.

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  6. I have heard that pumpkin seeds are good for deworming. I figured if I periodically fed some pumpkin seeds it would atleast help.

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    1. I figure if it can't hurt and the chickens enjoy them, why not?!

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  7. Would worms cause a prolapsed vent? Just yesterday noticed her rear end and lots of feathers missing - very raw looking. Took her in bathed her and put her in a cozy crate with shaving and food and water. Next day while cleaning her, all these white, about 1/2 inch long worms came out. Just fed her Safe-Guard wormer on pieces of corn. Right thing to do??? And when should I do it again? Thanks much.

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  8. chikin mamma9/6/13, 8:31 PM

    lions, and tigers, and....OMG!!!! gapeworms,,i have kept layers for five years now,,,essentially no problems,,,however,,i felt somewhat bold and decided to raise some Jumbo Cornish for my children and grandchildren and the rest of the family's freezer's for the winter,,"LIKE" whats a hundred more ? ...( rite)....well needless to say,,for some unknown reason they got a gapeworm infestation,,,I Freaked out.. never had a problem like this before. I immediately went got liquid fendbendazole,,,fed this to the buzzards in their water for four days,,,this is the sixth day after worming,,,i am still seeing some dead worms ,,maybe only two or three or so.. piles per day. my butcher day is scheduled for the 14 th day from the last worming day,,,(please,,,somebody help me!!!),,,should i still be seeing any of these worms?..( like a residual after effect? ) can these worms affect the meat?.. don't want my family to get worms,,, seriously i cannot find any info on what i am asking,,,,i am more than worried,,,can't sleep, a huge investment and all....so if you choose to answer my questions it would be such a blessing to me and my future knowledge,,, my e-mail,,,kimscrubtech@yahoo.com or, kimberlydvanalstine@ymail.com in case i cannot get back to this site,,,LOL....the buzzards in my pen may have decided i was a good dinner, and eaten me instead of their food,,,,good gosh,,can they eat,,,
    thank you in advance
    Chikin mamma,,,

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  9. I am wondering if my kids are getting thread worms from our chickens? My kids keep getting a thread worm or pin worm. They gather the eggs and of course we wash the eggs before we eat them but maybe the worms get on their hands? Thank you!

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  10. When it was really hot here over a week ago I noticed my Araucana hen's mouth gaping. Didn't think anything of it because it was hot. Well guess what? Her mouth was still gaping a couple days ago and the weather is very cool. After doing a bit of research, I thought maybe she had gape worms. I haven't ever wormed any of my birds. They are 24 weeks old and just starting to lay. The advice I got was to use Ivermectin liquid (injectable) and give five drops by mouth to kill the worms in her throat on contact. Have been giving her scrambled eggs, cornmeal mush with electrolytes and olive oil in it. I don't have a bird vet so wondered if this sounded like a plausible treatment. Her eyes and nose are clear, she's stopped gaping, and she's never gurgled. I've been hand feeding her two days and she's very thin.

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  11. HI,
    CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME.....
    Today, I'm De-worming my three hens for the first time. I'm giving them Wazine for 24 hours (1 Tablespoon/1gallon water), then returning the hens to regular water. It was recommended I buy PANACUR Equine Dewormer PASTE 10% (100mg/g). In TWO weeks I will give them a 'pea size' amount of paste (down their throat). QUESTION: How many days do I do this. OR is it just the one time... and repeat all of the above in 6-9 months. Thanks.

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  12. John McMaster2/9/14, 9:23 AM

    I just got a 1 and a half inch white worm in my egg and can't face eggs now. I use to love them but since I found the worm I don't think I'll ever eat them again.

    I returned the egg, the worm, the shell and the other five eggs left in the box to Spar who told me they would take the rest off the shelf and send it back to the supplier for testing.

    I am, to tell you the truth, SHOCKED that a worm so large could have found its way into an egg and was wondering what health problem this could have caused me if I hadn't noticed it and eat it?

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  13. Cindy Anderson2/10/14, 2:31 PM

    How long after you worm your chickens can you eat the eggs again?

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  14. Rob&Meredith3/2/14, 4:16 PM

    After treating my flock with Levamisole , how long must we not eat the eggs. We treated today because of Gapworm and we have to retreat in 10 days?

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  15. Can you please tell me the dosing for Safe-Guard? I have a flock of 6 layers age range 6 months to 14 months, two pullets hatched 1/2/14 and 1/16/14 (they are housed separately but I plan to worm them before integrating)

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  16. I have been using diatomaceous earth on mine in coop and nests for mites, bugs and worms. I sprinkle some on there food for the worming of the gut. Never have tossed the eggs. Don't think I need to. ? They also free range and have a large run.

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  17. I heard that the natural way to worm is ground up pumkin seeds, is there any truth to this?

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  18. TheChickenChick3/19/14, 2:28 PM

    The short answer is, no. If your birds have a worm infestation, ground up pumpkin seeds are not going to cure them. Much more on this topic here: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/10/chickens-pumpkin-seeds-and-worms-oh-my.html

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  19. ChickenPrincess3/27/14, 11:12 AM

    Do all of these meds work for tapeworm treatment?

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  20. TheChickenChick3/27/14, 4:04 PM

    No, most do not.

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  21. Elizabeth Nicole Stelling4/2/14, 3:36 PM

    Hi. I was actually looking for information on worming. Very helpful! I see no signs of worms yet but with the new miniature donkeys, we have to worm them regularly and we are supposed to swap back and forth between the medications used, so I think I will add the ladies to the farm schedule for worming. When we have a pig or two, they need to be wormed regularly too. Thank you for this article!

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  22. Fluffy's Mama4/3/14, 7:57 PM

    Kathy - I am hoping you can answer this question. I recently lost several birds due to basic body wasting. In one hen, before she died, she had feces like the picture shown above (that looks like spaghetti). I called my vet friend, who does not treat chickens, and she researched a wormer for me. It didn't work and the bird passed away and then several other birds followed. We asked our Poultry 4-H club director and he said to get a general dewormer, which we did. I gave them the medicine last week and now all my birds are extremely thirsty. Even the roosters. Is this normal behavior? I've watched them every day flock to the waterer and drink and drink. It's starting to really worry me. Thanks for any info you may have.

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  23. TheChickenChick4/4/14, 11:32 PM

    Please call and speak with a veterinarian at the USDA. The call and the conversation are free. 866-536-7593

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  24. They were due next month but I just wormed my girls with Safeguard last week because I found several dead roundworms while doing my daily coop poop-scoop. I live in Florida where, unfortunately, no insects die off due to cold so I've had them on a twice a year worming regimen. Since my chickens free range during the day all year round and since there are cows, horses, sheep and dogs here I think worms are inevitable.

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  25. Sandy Potter4/29/14, 10:03 AM

    Safeguard paste for horses? From the convenient tack shop 2 miles from my house? That would be FANTASTIC! I think they may carry the goat one. My question is how much paste/per chicken... 6-8 lb chicken?

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  26. Sandy Potter4/29/14, 10:10 AM

    Wow! I called and a human answered on the 2nd ring!

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  27. Prosthogonimus macrorchis is actually a fluke, not a tapeworm. ;)
    (just learned about these nasties in school [veterinary technology])

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  28. HolyPhotoShopBatman!5/20/14, 10:10 AM

    So...helpful but not helpful..."The reality is that most of the products are safe, and most don’t even get into the egg" Which are safe and which don't even get into the egg? This is one of those subjects where everyone has an opinion and there's no concrete information. What do you do for your birds? My animals are free-range and I've never had a problem but I've always felt guilty about it and thought that eventually there would be a price to pay. Completely insecure about what to give them and if the eggs would be edible afterwards. Appreciate any experience you could share. Alison

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  29. Mirra Cornejo5/28/14, 10:35 PM

    Can you get roundworms from the chicken that are affected?

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  30. How do you know when the chickens have worms? My chickens have watery poo, but that's about it.
    Is there a symptom I should be looking for?

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  31. Bernice the Owl8/3/14, 5:15 PM

    Did this chicken survive? We have just noticed a very similar event and would like to know if we should follow the same route.

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  32. Linda Marengo Davis8/12/14, 6:51 AM

    I have only used DE over the last few yrs. I couldn't bear to toss eggs away after a chemical treatment for a wk or 2. Think this fall/winter I will do a treatment when egg production is down. what is the time frame to toss the eggs after a chemical treatment ? TY

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  33. AmeraucanaMama8/21/14, 6:35 PM

    What is the dosage and egg withdrawal times for ivermectin (orally) and Safe-Guard (the goat kind?)

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  34. Gena Blackmon8/26/14, 7:04 PM

    whats the best wormer for tape worms in free range poultry? Can I use Zimectrin Gold for Equine in a pea size amount?

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  35. So if I give my 5 chickens .5 fenbendazole. How much do I give them?

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  36. what can we use to treat gape worm in the us??? I have read that they use flubendazole in the uk.

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  37. Gene Rose Aquino Sanchez12/3/14, 7:17 PM

    what should be the performance of chickens after deworming?

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  38. Gene Rose Aquino Sanchez12/3/14, 7:19 PM

    hey im confused, whta should be the performane of chickens after deworming ? is there any difference between the chickens with parasitic worms and without? thank you!

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  39. On a different note. One of my chickens needed to be put on pain killers and anitbiotics. the vet said I could NEVER eat her or the eggs. I didn't expect she would live so - no problem. Well, she did live and she started laying eggs again - one a day! She is my best layer. Can I eat the eggs?

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  40. This was very helpful!

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  41. soon2bchickens12/30/14, 7:36 AM

    Hi ive been researching all information on chickens - back yard chickens. I came across a few articles that put DE in the food. Just a small sprinkle of it in the food bin. It does help your girls be free of worms.

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  42. Angela Nelson-Patterson1/2/15, 1:55 PM

    Thank you!

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  43. Tiffany Overcash1/4/15, 10:22 PM

    My flock, of four, are being treated for respirtory illness. I'm giving them Duramycin powder in their water. I saw, what I tought was a worm hanging out of my Roos rear! :/ Shall I deworm him with wazine at the same time??

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  44. SlothluvsChunk1/11/15, 3:32 PM

    Very Helpful! This "Chick" Thanks you!

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