Worming Chickens By Tim Daniels of poultrykeeper.com
This article shares some of my personal experiences and routines with worming my chickens.
Chickens, waterfowl and other poultry require regular worming to prevent health problems, yet it is surprising how many people don’t do this on a regular basis. If you are keeping chickens on the same piece of ground, they can pick up worm eggs easily whilst scratching around or via an intermediate host such as the humble earthworm that hens love to eat. Chickens soon become infected, shedding thousands more eggs via their droppings into the environment, making the problem worse.
The worm burden
There is often a small background level of worms in every flock and it is a good idea to keep this level to a minimum. Recent tests by Janssen Animal Health showed egg production went up when worming a free range egg laying flock more frequently so I like to think of these measures as putting a few more eggs on my table!
I use Flubenvet Poultry Wormer at least every 6 months – although it may be necessary to worm more often than this if your birds are kept on the same piece of ground. Remember Flubenvet will kill all common worms and their eggs however, the eggs that have been deposited on the ground will re-infect the birds so it is necessary to repeat the treatment before the prepatent period of the worms is reached (that is, before the eggs have hatched and grow into adult worms to lay more eggs). This is around 3 weeks for most of the common worms that effect our birds.
My preventative, routine measures.
They say prevention is better than cure and there are a number of preventative measures that I make part of my routine in between my routine worming with Flubenvet to reduce the worm burden in my flock.
1. Keeping chickens in a clean environment – I clean housing out weekly and using a leaf rake, clean up runs when the weather permits.
2. Keep grass short – I regularly cut the grass short during the summer which allows ultra-violet light from the sun to kill off worm eggs left on the ground. During winter, the frosts should also kill worm eggs.
3. Grazing rotation – It helps if you can divide a larger run into two and alternate grazing as it stops a build up of worm eggs. If you have a portable house and run, you can easily move them onto fresh grass. It is a good idea to move them immediately after worming as this stops eggs on the ground from being picked up, re-infecting them.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)– I use Apple Cider Vinegar as a healthy tonic for my birds which also makes the digestive system slightly acidic making an unpleasant environment for worms.
What about herbal wormers?
I am a great believer in natural products for my birds’ health and I regularly use a couple of cloves of freshly crushed garlic and Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) in their water to boost their immune system as well as make their digestive system an unpleasant environment for worms BUT I will only use a proven wormer such as Flubenvet when I need to worm my chickens.
My reasons for this is that In the UK any product making veterinary medical claims needs to be licensed and to be licensed, the product has to show both safety and efficacy for the animal involved. Products termed ‘nutritional supplements’ do not require any proof of efficacy and many claims can be made that aren’t backed up with any proof.
Sadly, I have heard of cases where people have believed they are worming regularly by using one of the herbal products but after a trip to the vet and a worm sample, they have found their birds to be suffering with a very heavy worm load.
There is of course more information about Flubenvet for chickens, worming and other articles about keeping chickens on the poultrykeeper website, however I would recommend investing in one book that will cover much more than just worms and much more than just chickens – . Victoria Roberts “Diseases of Free Range Poultry” is written in a clear and easy to understand manner and is worth every penny.
With a little routine care and regular worming, worms should never become a problem!
Please remember the advice given in this article is given in good faith, based on my experiences but please remember it should not replace the advice of a qualified veterinarian who can advise you about worming.
Tim Daniels of poultrykeeper.com