Just like humans and dogs, chickens are susceptible to worms and their effects on their health system. Worms are a group term for some of the internal parasites that can infect poultry, with 6 main types of worms known to happily colonize different areas of their body.
Worms are easily transmittable from hen to hen and are contracted by eating dirt or insects that are exposed to worms or their eggs.
Types of poultry worms
Roundworm is a very common parasite that infects the intestinal tract. A common symptom in young hens is a drop in weight. Roundworm will ultimately affect nutrients absorbed in the intestine, leading to illness and even intestinal blockage
Tapeworm is a type of parasite is normally harmless in chickens, however if left to grow to large numbers they can cause weight loss
Poultry Eyeworm is most prevalent in warmer states. A type of roundworm that lives in the chicken’s eye. The infestation makes it difficult for the hen to see.
How do I know if my Chicken has worms?
Different worms, infecting different parts of the chicken will give varying symptoms. If you care for your hens daily, you should be able to quickly notice any changes to their bahaviour and appearance
Here are some symptoms which may indicate a worm infestation:
- Loss in weight, or is not gaining weight
- Hen is less bright and active
- Eating more, yet not gaining weight
- Reduction or a stop in egg production
- Chicken is making a gaping gesture with their beak
- Chicken is wheezing
- Pale combs
- Bloody diarrhea
- Worms in their droppings
Spring is worm season
As the weather warms up, so does parasitic activity. Warmer, more humid days provide the perfect environment for eggs to grow. Insects and worms are about in greater numbers, all are possible parasite hosts and look especially tasty to your backyard chickens.
Treating Worms in Poultry
The best treatment for worms is prevention however sometimes no matter how hard you try, your flock may become infected by poultry worms. In the US, there are many worming treatments to eradicate these harmful parasites. These can be administered in your drinking water and used as a preventative every 6 months.
It is true, however, that after a worming treatment you should not eat your hen’s eggs for two weeks.
What can you do to prevent worms?
There are certain measures you can take that will reduce the risk of worm infestation among your flock
- Keep a clean henhouse by changing their bedding and flooring regularly. While your hens may not be showing signs of a worm infestation, lurking in their bedding their may be wormed lurking.
- Add diatomaceous earth to their diet. This will help to sweep out their digestive tract and remove parasites. Totally natural, diatomaceous earth is thought of as a natural worming treatment
- Add apple cider vinegar to drinking water to help detox their body and provide a boost to their immune system