Anne has a new book out on 16 Jan next year
called ‘A Family Guide to Keeping Chickens,’
published by ‘How To Books’ (an imprint of
Constable & Robinson). You can pre-order a
copy now on Amazon!
Worms infest almost all animals on the planet from wild birds through to apes, with each
species of animal having its own set of worms that like to infest it. In the wild whereby
animals move around often and live usually in small groups, worms are not an issue as
animals only tend to be exposed to low numbers of worm eggs. Once man began to
domesticate animals and keep them in larger numbers and less space than they would
have in the wild, domestic animals began to become exposed to large numbers of worm
eggs thus leading to large burdens within all our domestic species, including chickens.
Whilst low numbers of worms are generally harmless, large numbers can cause weight
loss, mild diarrhoea and lower egg numbers.
With backyard chickens there are a number of ways to deal with worms:
Worm routinely (every three to six months) with Flubenvet (the only licensed wormer in
the UK). This is added into their feed for seven consecutive days. It can be bought as a
powder and added to the feed or feed can be bought with wormer already mixed in.
Take dropping samples from your birds every three to six months and send them to
Chicken Vet (see our website
for details) to check if your birds
have worms and therefore need worming.
Keep the grass short in the range - this allows UV light onto the soil to destroy worm
eggs on the soil’s surface.
Move the range area - this gives the grass a break and possibly allows the worm eggs
to die (though this relies on hard frosts and bright sunlight - none of which we’ve had
much of this winter)
Red mites will have had a relatively mild winter with little frosty weather to keep their
numbers in check. As the weather warms up they will be able to reproduce much faster
(
they can complete their lifecycle in as little as ten days). Low levels of mites only cause
irritation to your birds but larger numbers can cause much greater blood loss leading to
anaemia causing the birds to lay less and in bad circumstances cause the death of your
birds.
The winter of 2013 was very kind to those of us who hate scraping ice of our car
windscreens and sliding around the roads. However such mild conditions have been
equally kind to worms and red mite meaning as the weather has warmed up their
numbers have exploded.
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