Symptoms of a chicken with intestinal worms are as follows
- watery runny droppings
- loss of appetite
- ceasing of egg laying
- going off alone
- loss of balance (due to weakness from a heavy infestation)
- dull comb,wattles and eyes
Types of intestinal worms are:
One of the most common parasitic roundworms of poultry (Ascaridia galli) occurs in chickens and turkeys. Adult worms are about one and a half to three inches long and about the size of an ordinary pencil lead. Thus, they can be seen easily with the naked eye. Heavily infected birds may show droopiness, emaciation and diarrhea. The primary damage is reduced efficiency of feed utilization, but death has been observed in severe infections.
This parasite (Heterakis gallinae) is found in the ceca of chickens, turkeys and other birds. The worms are small, white and measure _ to ½ inch in length.This parasite apparently does not seriously affect the health of the bird. At least no marked symptoms or pathology can be blamed on its presence. Its main importance is that it has been incriminated as a vector of Histomonas meleagridis, the agent that causes blackhead. This protozoan parasite apparently is carried in the cecal worm egg and is transmitted from bird to bird through this egg.
There are several species of Capillaria that occur in poultry. Capillaria annulataCapillaria contorta occur in the crop and esophagus. These may cause thickening and inflammation of the mucosa, and occasionally severe losses are sustained in turkeys and game birds. and In the lower intestinal tract there may be several different species but usually Capillaria obsignata is the most prevalent. The life cycle of this parasite is direct. The adult worms may be embedded in the lining of the intestine. The eggs are laid and passed in the droppings. Following embryonation that takes six to eight days, the eggs are infective to any other poultry that may eat them. The most severe damage occurs within two weeks of infection. The parasites frequently produce severe inflammation and sometimes cause hemorrhage. Erosion of the intestinal lining may be extensive and result in death. These parasites may become a severe problem in deep litter houses. Reduced growth, egg production and fertility may result from heavy infections.
Tapeworms or cestodes are flattened, ribbon-shaped worms composed of numerous segments or division. Tapeworms vary in size from very small to several inches in length. The head or anterior end is much smaller than the rest of the body. Since tapeworms may be very small, careful examination often is necessary to find them. A portion of the intestine may be opened and placed in water to assist in finding the tapeworms.NOTE: AVIVERM IS ANTHELMINTIC WHICH PROVIDES SIMULTANEOUS TREATMENT OF IMMATURE AND ADULT STAGES OF THE THREE MOST IMPORTANT INTESTINAL WORMS (ASCARDIA spp.,CAPILLARIA spp., HETERAKIS spp.) in fowls turkeys and other birds (taken from the product information on Aviverm worming treatment) This product does not treat gapeworm
Chickens also can contract Gapeworm which is a worm that lives in the lungs and trachea. This is often fatal. Treatment with Ivomec (Ivermectin) is used however consult your veterinarian first for advice before using this product or you could be doing more harm to your birds than good.
Definition comes from WikipediaA gapeworm (Syngamus trachea) is a parasitic nematode worm infecting the tracheas of certain birds. The resulting disease, known as gape or the gapes, occurs when the worms clog and obstruct the airway. The worms are also known as red worms or forked worms due to their red color and the permanent procreative conjunction of males and females. Gapeworm is common in young, domesticated chickens and turkeys.
When the female gapeworm lays her eggs in the trachea of an infected bird, the eggs are coughed up, swallowed, then defecated. When birds consume the eggs found in the feces or an intermediate host such as earthworms, snails (Planorbarius corneus, Bithynia tentaculata, …), or slugs, they become infected with the parasite.
Ivermectin is a drug often used to control gapeworm infection in birds.
See also Prolapse in Hens
And here's the $85 lesson I learned the hard way below (this story appeared in Rural Living last year)........
Living in a rural area like Maungaturoto reality comes first. At least, most of the time it does. In the case of a chicken named for a song by Rod Stewart, reality and logic went out the proverbial window one late Sunday afternoon.
5pm – Now, I admit, I should know better. Having a good basic knowledge of poultry and what afflicts them, it was all too obvious what was causing Maggie’s staggering and sudden weight loss. A very nasty dose of worms – but being soft hearted and wanting my kids to talk to me for the next twenty years or so (or at least while I fed and clothed them) I cave and call the Maungaturoto Vet Centre and explain I had “a very sick looking Black Australorp hen and that if I don’t do something, my kids will never talk to me ever again”.
5.15pm – I arrive at the back door of the Maungaturoto Vet Centre with a half dead chicken and two kids in tow. Kids are panicking, chicken could care less.
5.16pm – The “patient” is removed from box and promptly does a typical chicken deposit on the vet’s nice clean examination table. Deposit hastily removed and chicken weighed.
5.17pm to 5.30pm – A discussion of chicken’s less than ideal state leads to diagnosis of worm infestation. Vet gives chicken worm injection, hands me, your faithful writer a bottle of Aviderm and a bill for….$85 bucks. Breakdown $65 for the out of hours consultation (fair enough) $20 or so for the injection and $14.95 for the Aviderm.
5.31pm to some ghastly time in the wee hours of the next day – Elder of two kids who has sat up ailing chicken announces chicken is still alive and rapidly improving.
One year later – Maggie May is still alive. Still sneaking in and sitting on the clean washing whenever she gets the opportunity.
And the moral of this story, dear rural reader?
Like all animals, chickens suffer from worm infestations and if left unchecked, can lead to an unnecessary death of what could be a child’s favourite pet. Not to mention a frosty silence from the offspring involved for the ensuing decade at least.
Pets or not – poultry need to be wormed every three months with a suitable wormer in their water. As with most parasite control products these products have a withholding period for the consumption of eggs and/or meat of around ten days.
PS – Maggie May in true Rod Stewartesque fashion has since raised a brood (three roosters and one hen) but that’s another story dear rural reader – perhaps when my sanity has returned.