Friday, 26 July 2013

Poultry Worms: Identifying, Curing and Preventing

Here at Flyte so Fancy HQ we have been speaking to many people over  this last few weeks of warm weather, regarding problems that all seem to come back to the issue of poultry worms. While not one of the nicest aspects of chicken keeping, it should just be regarded as one of those things that comes with chicken keeping.

If your hen has mucky tail feathers the first idea that springs to mind is that your chicken has worms, which can happen even if they are regularly wormed. There are three main types of worms that can affect poultry; Roundworms, Gapeworms and Tapeworms. Roundworms are the most common, looking like spaghetti and living in the birds intestine. Gapeworms are a type of roundworm that attach themselves to the throat of the chicken and impair their breathing. Tapeworms are less common and attach themselves to the intestine wall by burying their heads into the lining of the wall. 

Worms are regularly spread by intermediate carriers, like slugs and snails that free ranging hens will snatch up as a tasty treat. The signs that a hen might be experiencing a problem with worms are fairly easy to see. Firstly, check the droppings of your birds. Healthy chicken droppings should be firm, rounded and of two sections.

If the droppings are of a green colour it could be that your hen doesn't have worms but a dietary imbalance. If this is the case, you should ask yourself, do I fed my hens too many greens as treats? Whilst they go mad for fruit and veg, their diet should be mainly a layers pellets with a small tidbit of something tastier at the end of the day, too many greens can give them diarrhoea. A black or runny dropping could be a dietary deficiency again and it is worth revisiting their daily diet.

Yellow coloured droppings which will normally stick to their tail feathers, could mean that your hens diet is very rich in corn or maize, however it far more likely that it is actually a sign of intestinal worms. Birds with messy back quarters will need cleaning up quickly. Get a tub  of warm soapy water ready and immerse the hens backside, letting it soak so that the matter begins to break up. Then (and I recommend wearing gloves) loosen the mess from the back of the bird. After a rinse off it is best to let them dry naturally, so doing it on a cold day isn't advisable. 

There are treatments available for getting rid of worms, however with most things in chicken keeping, prevention will always top the cure. Leaving hens on the same area of ground over a long period of time is a primary cause of worms in a flock and there are a range of disinfectants available for this problem.

Net-Tex Ground Sanitiser Powder can be sprinkled on the ground and will kill worms from the larvae stage to fully grown. Another great preventative against internal worms is the use of a gut conditioner. A natural and safe liquid that you simply add to their drinking water, this herbal product maintains a healthy digestive system. It will help expel internal parasites to keep your hens healthy, worm free and maintaining a good gut. VermX Pellets or Liquid is another very popular brand of gut treatment, which if used regularly, can keep the problem in check.

It should be noted that if you suspect your birds are suffering from a worm infestation, or appear to have gapeworm, then we suggest a vet consultation or the use of Flubenvet, which is a prescribed anthelmintic for the treatment of worms in poultry. 


Worms are an unfortunate part of keeping chickens, it is important to get rid of and prevent internal worms to have happy healthy hens. Herbal gut conditioners should be used on a regular monthly basis to be at their most effective against worms.Vigilance and having a few essential products in your cupboard is everything you need to keep your flock free of worms and in tip-top shape. 

If you are unsure about which product to use or you need some help, please call 01300 345229 and speak to a member of our team.

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