If you’re raising backyard chickens, among the most common problems that you must contend with involve parasitic worms. Your chickens could become infected by parasitic worms for any number of reasons, including transmission from a nearby hen or a dirty coop. Although not as common as roundworms, one parasitic worm that could infect your chickens is the threadworm. In the event that one or more of your chickens becomes infected by threadworms, it’s important that you understand how to effectively treat these worms.
What are threadworms?
A threadworm is a capillary worm that’s as thin as a thread and typically no longer than 0.5 inches. Even though roundworms are more common than threadworms, they both create similar issues in the affected chicken. Threadworms can live in several different areas of a chicken, which include the crop, intestines, and esophagus. If these worms aren’t removed quickly, they can create health problems for any infected chickens.
The problem with Threadworms
Some parasitic worms are more dangerous to a chicken’s health than others. For instance, gapeworms can induce distressed breathing in the affected chicken, which can eventually result in death. On the other hand, cecal worms are relatively harmless and rarely cause diseases in the affected chicken.
As for threadworms, they can be dangerous and deadly if not treated in a timely manner. Because these worms are usually located in the intestines, they have the propensity to rob chickens of their essential vitamins and nutrients. Over time, it’s possible for the affected chicken to die if they lack the right nutrients. If one or more of your chickens has been infected by threadworms, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible.
What Are the Symptoms of Poultry Threadworm?
Symptoms can differ depending on how severe the infection is. In many cases, it can be difficult to determine if your chicken is infected by threadworms. Because of the diminutive size of these worms, you may find it difficult to detect them in droppings. In the event that the infection becomes severe enough, some more visible symptoms will begin to occur. As mentioned previously, these symptoms can eventually lead to death, which is why it’s important that you react quickly upon detecting one or more of the following symptoms.
If the infection is severe, the primary symptoms that your chicken will likely experience include:
- Weight loss
- Pale combs
Most of these symptoms will worsen over time if the threadworms are left untreated. Once the symptoms become more severe, the affected chicken will be more susceptible to developing other infections as well.
Where Do Chickens Get Threadworm From?
It’s possible for chickens to contract threadworms from litter and earthworms, the latter of which is considered to be an intermediate host. The worms have a lengthy lifecycle that begins by feeding on various aspects of the chicken’s body. Eventually, these worms lay eggs that pass through the chicken’s feces and further contaminate the surrounding environment. Keep in mind that a microscope would be needed to identify the presence of these eggs in the chicken’s feces.
At this point, additional infections will likely occur among other chickens in the coop. When other chickens are eating or drinking, they may consume the threadworm eggs. Once these eggs are consumed, they will hatch and live in the small intestines, crop, or esophagus. This cycle will continue until the root problem is treated and any remaining threadworm eggs are removed from the coop.
How to Treat Threadworms in Chickens
If you believe that at least one of your chickens has become infected with threadworms, there are several treatment options at your disposal. For instance, Albendazole is a very common dewormer that’s given to chickens orally. When using this particular treatment, each chicken should be provided with anywhere from 1/4ml to 1/2ml of the solution. The treatment should then be repeated in two weeks. Fecal tests may be necessary to determine if the treatment has been effective.
Another common dewormer is Fenbendazole, which is a liquid dewormer that should be added to your chicken’s drinking water source. You should use this treatment at a standard rate of 3ml for every gallon of water. If you want to prevent infestations from occurring in the first place, it’s highly recommended that you implement a routine deworming program at least four times every year. By combining this program with a healthy diet, chicken parasites like threadworms should be effectively mitigated.
No matter how clean your chicken coop is, there’s always a chance that parasitic worms could infect your chickens. However, properly maintaining your coop and making sure that all of your chickens are healthy should help you reduce parasitic worm infestations. Even though threadworms can be difficult to detect, using the right treatment can help you stop the spread of threadworms before they infect the remainder of the chickens in your coop.