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Deworming Your Chickens


Deworm your poultry in the fall to minimize the spread of parasites.Occasionally, your flock may have health problems that require your quick attention. Parasitic worms can cause health issues and spread quickly throughout the brood. Poultry experts recommend deworming as a regular part of your poultry care regimen.

To control worms within the flock, many chicken owners have found that deworming twice a year is the most beneficial. The best time for deworming your chickens is in the fall. When chickens are in close quarters during the winter months, parasites can spread quickly. If you eliminate worms before your chickens spend most of their time together in the coop, your problems can often be minimized.

Although symptoms can vary according to the type of worms, chickens with worms often show symptoms such as a decrease in egg laying, diarrhea, weight loss, rasping, coughing, lack of energy, and, in extreme cases, death. Common types of worms that affect chickens are: round worms, tape worms, gape worms, hair worms, and cecal worms.

Sometimes, you can readily see worm infestations. Other times, you may need to refer to your local veterinarian for a diagnosis. Your vet will be able to determine what specific type of worm you need to treat. The right treatment will prevent unnecessary use of medications which will save you both time and money. Once the existence of worms is confirmed, the best course of action is to treat the whole flock. Because deworming can be stressful to chickens, avoid deworming during molting season, through the winter and avoid treating chicks under six weeks of age.

Fortunately, several commercial products are available for deworming your poultry. Different products target different parasites, so it's important to know what you are dealing with. Effective deworming treatments include: piperazine (Wazine), levamisole, fenbendazole, and meldane feed. It is a good idea to discard eggs from hens during treatment and up to 10 days after deworming. This is known as the egg withdrawal period. During this time, all eggs should be thrown away - they shouldn't be eaten, composted, or fed back to the flock.

Good management practices can help prevent worm infestations. Be sure to keep the chicken coop dry and clean out droppings on a regular basis. Avoid overcrowding in the chicken coop. Always quarantine new chickens for several weeks before mixing with your flock and test them for worms. Add pumpkin seeds, garlic, and food grade diatomaceous earth to your chickens' diet. These natural products have proven to reduce the effects of worms.

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Poultry Care Series

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