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How to worm chickens

Chicken health, How to..

Unfortunately worms are part and parcel of chicken ownership. Simply, chickens catch worms from something they have eaten. Whether that be infested droppings from another chook or bird, or an insect carrying eggs.

Prevention is definitely easier than cure, worms zap chickens of nutrients as well as causing your girls grave discomfort. If you find your chickens with any of the symptoms below it may be worth checking your worming regime.

Lack of weight/poor weight gain, increased feed consumption, pale yolk colour, diarrhoea and in severe cases, anaemia (pale comb and wattles) and mortality. In the case of gapeworm, chickens will gasp for breath or ‘gape’ stretching their neck. You may also notice the worms in their poop, so do give it a check!

There are a number of different kinds of worms – here are some common ones that are known to affect poultry:

  • Hair worm – can be found in the oesophagus, intestine, stomach, and the crop.
  • Roundworm – affects the digestive system.
  • Gapeworm – affects the trachea and lungs.
  • Caecal worm – causes blackhead organisms to occur- particularly potent to turkeys.

Worming your chickens is usually a very straight forward process. I like to worm my birds once every season. So at the change of every season, I worm. I find this the easiest way to remember! I also use natural remedies year round, to keep the pesky little (or sometimes large) things at bay.

Also remember, once chicks spend time outside they can come in contact with worms and should also be treated (usually around six weeks old).

There are a lot of different brands of chicken/poultry or bird worming solutions on the market.

Simply, they come in tablet or liquid form. We stock both and you can find the links to these below.

If you have a small flock, and are comfortable with using tablets (this can require inserting the tablet into the chooks mouth), then these are the way to go. You will have complete control over how little or how much each bird receives. Just follow the directions on the packaging as to how many tablets each bird requires. A great tip, is to pop the tablets in a kernel of corn, or blueberry. You can bet your bottom dollar the chooks will be happy to swallow those down!

If you have a larger flock, or like life a little easier, you can use the liquid wormer. I suggest using a separate waterer for the worming solution. You will need to make this up from a concentrate and it is much easier if you have a small one or two litre container. Take all other water sources out of your coop for the 24 hours you have the worming solution in with the chickens. If they are really fussy, a little bit of sweetener, such as molasses, can entice them to the worming water. The disadvantage of this process is you really don’t know exactly how much or little each chicken is receiving. But still, it is likely they are receiving enough, or at least better than nothing at all! You could even soak half a piece of bread with the recommended dose and feed to each chook separately.

If you are after a natural solution why not try some of the options below? These can be used independently, or in conjunction with an over the counter worming product.

Diatomaceous Earth is often added into chickens feed because it acts as a natural dewormer. It works by dehydrating the parasites and worms that exist internally. In terms of its effectiveness, the jury still seems to be out on whether it will definitely kill all parasites, however, feeding your chickens diatomaceous earth is actually great to give them extra trace minerals – so beneficial regardless. I also sprinkle this generously through my nesting boxes to ward off external parasites such as mites and lice!

Apple Cider Vinegar acts as a mild antiseptic and also a mild antibiotic, so it will kill some bacteria and germs, and deter worms from making a home in your chickens. Although, it’s not a 100% guaranteed treatment, its definitely worth a try!

Garlic is another natural food that is known to help keep worms at bay, and makes your chicken’s internals a less attractive place for parasites to settle.  Adding some ground up garlic into your chicken’s feed is a great way to get your chickens to eat it. Garlic also helps chickens respiratory system and boosts their immune system.

If you find or suspect you already have an infestation you will need to repeat the dosage over the following few weeks. The first dose of wormer will kill the hatched/active worms inside your chicken but not the eggs. Therefore, you will also need to remember to give them a second dose 10-14 days after the first dose, to kill the new worm hatchlings.

Whether you go for a natural or medicated product, worming your chickens is an important and necessary part of being a chicken owner.

Diatomaceous Earth

Apple Cider Vinegar

Kilverm Liquid Wormer

Avitrol Plus Wormer Tablets

Worming Kit


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