Treating Gapeworm in Chickens

Gapeworm (Syngamus trachea) is a parasitic worm that lives and breeds in the throat of some birds, particularly poultry. These little red worms anchor themself in the trachea, feeding on your bird’s blood. They can also invade the bronchi in the lungs of chickens. When they multiply they block the airway. If left untreated, they will completely obstruct the trachea and will suffocate your chicken. This article gives you an insight into the Treating Gapeworm in Chickens.

Symptoms of Gapeworm

If you are noticing your hen acting differently, coughing and shaking her head there is probably cause to suggest she is infected with gapeworm. The symptoms are also earily similar to CRD (Chicken Respiratory Disease) , with the exception that Gapeworm does not cause nasal or eye discharge or sneezing. Furthermore, smaller chicken breeds and pullets are more susceptible to succumbing to gapeworm due to their narrower trachea.

If you believe you have a Gapeworm infestation in your coop it may be worthwhile collecting a sample of chicken poop for confirmation.

Signs of Gapeworm include:

  • Gaping
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Gasping for breath
  • Stretch and shaking their head in an effort to dislodge the worms
  • Looks weak and sick

Causes of Chicken Gapeworm

Gapeworm is transmitable from bird to bird. A chicken can become infected by eating feed that has been contaminated by fecal matter that contains gapeworm eggs. Chickens can also become infected if they have eaten worms or other bugs infected with gapeworm.

Once the eggs are ingested, the larvae hatches inside the bird and travels through the blood stream to the lungs. From there, the parasite makes its way to the trachea.

Gapeworm could originate from just about any bird or worm. For this reason, it is near impossible to keep your coop gapeworm-free. Fortunately, it is not that common so there is no need to lose too much sleep.

Gapeworm FAQ

How do I know if my chicken has gapeworm?

Gapeworm is diagnosed either by postmortem or fecal sample will need to be carried out. Otherwise, you will have to rely on the persistent symptoms being presented by your birds. These include gaping, coughing, wheezing, gasping for breath, shaking their head, and a sick appearance. As mentioned above, it also important to eliminate the possibility of Chicken Respiratory Disease

Is gapeworm common in backyard chickens?

Gapeworm is not particularly common in backyard poultry. However, if an infestation is suspected, you must treat the flock. Then, treat it again. Treating Gapeworm in Chickens is carried out at a flock level. If you have a mixed flock, say, ducks and chickens or geese and chickens, all birds must be treated. Remove seriously ill birds from the flock and quarantine them. This allows you to treat the flock and give rest and respite to the ill bird.

Quarantine seriously ill chickens away from the flock

Can you treat garpeworm naturally?

Gapeworm is a difficult parasite to rid. Diatomaceous Earth is similar to a natural broom that sweeps out the intestinal tract. The problem with Gapeworm is that they will live in the airways, away from the digestive tract. The best treatment is a de-wormer and a preventative worming treatment

How often should I worm my chickens?

Chickens should be administered a worming treatment every 6 to 8 months. If you have had infestations of gapeworm in the flock before, you should take early intervention and worm every 5 – 6 months.

Is gapeworm contagious?

Yes. If one chicken has gapeworm, there is a high likelihood that other birds in your flock are also infected. The parasite is spread through fecal matter and earthworms.

Can humans get gapeworm?

It is almost unheard of for humans to contract gapeworm.

How do I prevent gapeworm in my poultry?

Prevention is key when it comes to parasites. Administer a worming treatment to your flock every 6-8 months even if they are not displaying symptoms of infestation

Treating Gapeworm in Chickens

Before you go reaching for ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar, don’t bother. Apple Cider Vinegar and also diatomaceous earth are both helpful to prevent parasites from overtaking a chicken’s body, making them an inhospitable host. However, apple cider vinegar is not successful in Treating Gapeworm in Chickens.

Your local vet with likely prescribe once a diagnosis is confirmed Flubenvet. As gapeworm is found in the chicken feces, moving the chickens to a new area after treatment will help prevent reinfestation. The reason for this is the gapeworm eggs may be found on the ground, and chickens love to forage.


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