Worms

Hens can pick up worms in exactly the same way as any other pet. However, caged hens are unlikely to have worms at the point of adoption as they have had no contact with solid ground. Free range and barn hens often do have worms when adopted.

Three common worms you may come across are:

  • Round worms
  • Tapeworms
  • Gapeworms

Symptoms

Roundworms:

  • Listlessness.
  • Weight loss.
  • Lack of thriftiness.
  • Worms may be seen in droppings (Figure 1) resembling spaghetti.

Gapeworms:

  • Gasping / gaping.
  • Coughing.
  • Head shaking.
  • Weight loss.
  • Difficulty breathing.

Tapeworms:

  • Weight loss.
  • Weakness.
  • Lethargy.
  • Rice-like grains seen in droppings.

Causes

Roundworms:

  • Worm eggs passed by affected chickens thrive in soil and litter and can either be eaten by earthworms which the chicken then eats or are ingested by the chicken eating soil, faeces or bedding.

Gapeworms:

  • Female worms lay their eggs in the trachea which hatch and are either coughed up or swallowed by the bird before being passed out in droppings.
  • Larvae are eaten by earth worms and slugs which are then eaten by other hens.

Tapeworms:

  • Adult tapeworms are comprised of a chain of segments which contain eggs. Tapeworm requires an intermediate host (slugs and snails), therefore chickens can only be infected by eating infected hosts.

Guidance

Note that this home remedy is not intended to offer a cure or replace veterinary treatment, but may alleviate symptoms where no professional support is easily available. The suggestions are based on experience gained with our own hens.

Roundworms:

  • Only one licensed wormer is available for roundworm and gapeworm: Flubenvet which is only available from vets or Suitably Qualified Persons (SQP’s) and is given over a 7 day period.
  • Flubenvet can be mixed with food or purchased in the form of a pre-medicated feed. Adding a small amount of vegetable oil to the feed will help the Flubenvet powder stick to the feed.

Gapeworms:

  • Only one licensed wormer is available for roundworm and gapeworm: Flubenvet which is available from vets or Suitably Qualified Persons (SQP’s) and is given over a 7 day period.
  • Flubenvet can be mixed with food or purchased in the form of a pre-medicated feed. Adding a small amount of vegetable oil to the feed will help the Flubenvet powder stick to the feed.

Tapeworms:

  • Flubenvet does not eliminate tapeworm, hens get tapeworm by eating snails, slugs and/or mice.
  • Flubenvet is not effective against tapeworms; you will need to consult your vet for appropriate treatment

Prevention

Roundworms:

  • Establish a routine hen health plan with regular preventative worming.
  • Use a ground sanitizer.
  • Pick up dropping regularly and change bedding as and when soiled.

Gapeworms:

  • Establish a routine hen health plan with regular preventative worming.
  • Use a ground sanitizer.
  • Pick up dropping regularly and change bedding as and when soiled.

Tapeworms:

  • Pick up dropping regularly and change bedding as and when soiled.
  • Prevent chickens from accessing intermediate hosts.
Figure 1: Roundworm
Figure 1: Roundworm
Figure 2: Tapeworm
Figure 2: Tapeworm
Figure 3: Gapeworm
Figure 3: Gapeworm

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