If you’ve ever seen a worm crawling around in your chicken’s droppings, you’re not alone. It’s not a pretty sight, but it is a common one. In fact, almost every backyard chicken keeper will have to deal with intestinal worms at some point. However, not all chicken keepers are even aware that their backyard chickens have worms.
Worms are not only a nuisance, but they can also make your chickens sick and even kill them. That’s why it’s important to know how to prevent and treat worms in chickens. While it is very difficult to completely prevent your chickens from getting parasites, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk. And if your chickens do end up with worms, there are treatment options available.
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about worms in chickens. We will cover what they are, how they get into chickens, how to avoid getting them in your flock, and how to treat them if your chickens do become infected. By the end of this article, you will know everything you need to know about worms in chickens and you will be equipped to deal with them if they ever become a problem in your flock.
Table of Contents
What Are Chicken Worms?
Worms are one of the most common parasites in chickens. There are many different types of worms, but they all have one thing in common: they live in the chicken’s digestive system and feed on its nutrients. This can cause malnutrition and discomfort for the chicken. Chickens with parasites may have reduced appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, and lethargy. Worms can be treated with dewormers, but prevention is the best method to avoid chickens getting infected in the first place.
A healthy chicken with strong natural defenses will not be affected by a few worms. However, a chicken that is already sick or stressed, or has a weak immune system, can become very ill from even a small number of worms. And even a healthy bird can be weakened by a heavy worm infestation.
Chicken worms cannot be transmitted to humans, but they can be transmitted to other poultry. If you have parasites in your chickens, it is important to take measures to prevent them from infecting other animals. Worms are often contracted from contaminated chicken feed or drinking water, so it’s important to keep a clean coop, provide fresh feed and water daily and regularly check your chickens for parasites.
How Do Chickens Get Worms?
Chickens can get intestinal worms from a variety of different sources, but they all involve your chicken eating something that is infected with worms. The most common ways chickens get worms include:
- Eating infected droppings from other birds: If another bird in your flock or a wild bird has worms, there is a chance that your chickens could contract them by eating their droppings or even eating from the ground where infected birds have been pooping – even years ago. Chickens can also get worms by pecking at the ground where other animals have defecated.
- Eating insects carrying worm eggs: Many types of insects, such as mites, fleas, and flies can carry worm eggs. If your chickens eat these insects, they could end up with worms.
- Eating slugs or snails, or other critters that have eaten worms or eggs: This is a common way for chickens to get worms, especially if they free range. If your chickens eat any type of snail, slug, or worm, there is a chance that they could have contracted worms from these creatures.
Your chickens can also get parasites from infected feed or water. This is why it’s so important to keep your chicken coop clean and provide fresh food and water.
Does that mean you should not free-range your backyard chickens in order to prevent them from getting worms?
No. Free-ranging is an important part of chicken keeping and it has many benefits for upi and your chickens. In fact, free-ranging may even help reduce the risk of your chickens getting worms because they will get regular exercise and have the opportunity to build up their natural defenses.
How to Tell If a Chicken Has Worms?
There are a few signs you can look for to determine if your chickens have worms. These include:
- Worms in eggs: If you find worms in your chicken’s eggs, it is a sign that at least one of your laying hens has a worm problem. The worms are very small and will look like white or brown strings in the egg.
- Worms in droppings: Another sign of a serious infestation is finding them in your chicken’s droppings.
- Gasping/yawning: Chickens with worms may gasp or “yawn” frequently. This is because the worms are causing irritation in their throat. Coughing and raspy breathing may also be signs of a worm infestation.
- Weight loss: Chickens with intestinal worms often lose weight, even if they are eating normally. This is because these parasites are stealing nutrients from the chicken’s feed and thus, the chicken is not getting the full benefit of what it eats.
- Diarrhea: Chickens with worms often have watery or runny poop. They may also be bloody.
- Pale combs and wattles: A pale comb and wattles can be a sign of anemia, which can be caused by worms.
- Overall changes in behavior: Chickens with worms often act differently than healthy chickens. If your chicken starts acting differently, such as being less active or less interested in food, it is usually a sign that something is wrong.
If you suspect your chicken has worms, it’s important to take action immediately. The longer you wait, the worse the infestation can become and the more difficult it will be to treat. Many of the symptoms above are also symptoms of other health problems, so it’s important to find the root cause of the problem before starting treatment.
If you haven’t already done this, check their droppings for signs of worms. If you see any, it’s a good sign that the symptoms you’re seeing are caused by parasitic worms. If you are not certain about what you’re seeing, you should take a sample of the droppings to your vet for testing.
Treating Chickens for Worms
If you think your chicken has worms, it’s important to start treatment right away. The sooner you start, the better the chance of getting rid of the worms and preventing them from causing further damage.
There are many different products available for treating chickens for worms. Some of these are natural remedies while others are chemical wormers. Natural treatments include garlic, apple cider vinegar, and pumpkin seeds. Chemical wormers include ivermectin and levamisole. What treatment to use depends on the type of worm and the severity of the infestation.
If the infestation is mild, you can often use a natural wormer. If the infestation is more severe, you may need to use a chemical wormer. It’s always best to talk to your vet before starting any treatment so they can help you choose the best option for your chicken.
No matter which type of chemical wormer you choose, it’s important to follow the instructions carefully. Overdosing your chicken can be just as bad as not treating them at all.
The frequency of deworming depends on the type of worm and the severity of the infestation. If your backyard chickens are healthy and have a mild infestation, you may only need to deworm them once. If they are sick or have a severe infestation, you may need to deworm them more frequently. It’s always best to talk to your vet before starting any treatment so they can help you choose the best option for your chicken.
How do you deworm chickens naturally, and what is the best natural dewormer for chickens?
Apple cider vinegar and garlic are two of the best natural dewormers for chickens. You can add apple cider vinegar to their water or make a garlic paste and add it to their feed. Pumpkin seeds are also a good natural anti-parasitic.
Apple Cider Vinegar can be added directly to your chicken’s water. For every gallon of water, add 1/5 cup of apple cider vinegar every day for a week. This will help to kill any worms that your chicken ingests and will also help to boost their immune response.
Chickens do not like garlic, in my experience, and will not eat it if they can avoid it. But garlic can be crushed into a paste and added to your chicken’s water. For every gallon of water, add four cloves of garlic paste every day for a week. This will improve their immune system and possibly kill any worms that they have.
Pumpkin seeds contain a natural anti-parasitic called cucurbitacin. However, feeding the seeds directly to your chicken may not have the desired effect. Instead, you should boil the seeds in water for 20 minutes before giving the water to your flock. This will extract the cucurbitacin from the seeds and into the water. Use 10 ounces of pumpkin seeds per gallon of water.
Is it necessary to deworm chickens?
Many chicken keepers never deworm their chickens unless they have a specific reason to do so. If your chickens are healthy and have no symptoms of parasitic worms, you do not have to deworm them. However, adding a bit of apple cider vinegar or crushed garlic to their water is a great preventative measure.
If your chickens are visibly sick or have any of the symptoms listed above, it’s important to take action right away.
Tips for Preventing Worm Infestation in Chickens
Prevention is the best cure, and the best medicine to avoid getting any type of parasites in your chickens is to practice good biosecurity. This means taking measures to prevent diseases from spreading.
Keep your chickens healthy: A strong immune system is the best defense against worms. You can help keep your chicken’s natural resistance strong by feeding them a high-quality diet and providing them with plenty of clean water.
Keep their coop and run clean and dry: An unclean environment is a perfect breeding ground for intestinal parasites. Worms thrive in damp environments, so it’s important to also keep your coop dry and well-ventilated. Be sure to clean up any manure promptly and dispose of it properly.
Provide a lot of space: Chickens that are crowded together are more likely to become infected with worms. Provide your chickens with plenty of space, so they are not cramped up. This way, they will be less likely to pick up worms from each other.
Rotate your chicken’s pasture: If you have chickens that free-range, be sure to rotate their pasture frequently. This will help to prevent the buildup of parasites in the soil.
Avoid contact with wild birds: Wild birds can carry parasites that can infect your chickens. Keep your chickens away from areas where wild birds congregate, such as birdbaths or feeders.
Quarantine new birds: Any time you introduce new birds to your flock, there is a risk of them introducing new diseases. To reduce this risk, it’s best to quarantine new birds for at least 30 days before adding them to your flock. During this time, you should monitor them closely for any signs of illness. I also suggest you check their droppings for worms before adding new birds to your flock.
Check your chickens regularly: Be sure to check your chickens regularly for any signs of illness, such as diarrhea, lethargy, or weight loss. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to take action right away.
Can You Eat a Chicken That Has Worms?
While the thought of eating a chicken infected with nasty worms may be unpleasant to some, it is generally safe to eat – provided the chicken is cooked properly. Worms can not live in cooked chicken, so as long as the chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, you can rest assured that any worms will be killed.
Even if you eat a chicken that is not properly cooked, you are unlikely to get infected by worms. This is because most (all, I believe) worms that infect chickens are species-specific and cannot infect humans. Furthermore, most worms are found in the digestive tract and intestines, not in the meat. However, eating undercooked chicken can still pose a risk of salmonella and other foodborne illnesses, so it’s always important to cook chicken thoroughly.
Worm problems are common in chickens, and the best cure for worms is prevention. Practice good biosecurity measures, such as quarantining new birds and keeping your coop clean and dry. You can also help to prevent worm infections by feeding your chickens a healthy diet and providing them with plenty of space.
If your chickens do become infected with intestinal worms, there are a number of effective treatments available. These include worming medications, garlic, pumpkin extracts, and apple cider vinegar. Be sure to follow the instructions on the package of any medicine carefully to ensure that the treatment is effective.
While worms can be unpleasant and even harmful to chickens, they are generally not a serious threat to human health. However, it is important to cook chicken thoroughly to avoid food poisoning.
With a little care and vigilance, you can keep your chickens healthy and sufficiently free of parasites.