Every chicken keeper must be vigilant about potential worm infestations. Free-ranging hens are particularly susceptible to various types of worms. This article will discuss the importance of regularly checking for worms. We will also address the problems with constantly medicating your chickens for worming. Finally, we will examine the advantages of using a kit to count worm droppings in order to keep your flock healthy and avoid health problems.
1. The Problem with Constant Medication:
Using medicated worm feed as a preventative measure may seem like a convenient solution. However, over time, worms can become resistant to these medications, rendering them ineffective. Before giving any treatments, it is important to conduct a worm faecal count, instead of just using medicine.
2. Conducting a Worm Faecal Count Test:
Performing a worm faecal count is a reliable method for determining the worm load within your flock. You can easily obtain a worm faecal count kit online or from local feed shops.
Collect faecal samples from different areas near the coop and run, then send them to a lab for analysis. This will help determine if there is a significant worm presence that requires treatment. Test hens' health every three months, especially before breeding and laying season, to ensure their well-being.
3. Exception: Gapeworm Infestation:
While regular worm monitoring is crucial, certain scenarios may call for immediate medication. If you observe symptoms such as yawning, coughing, or head shaking in a hen, it could indicate a gapeworm infestation. In such cases, where the worm is lodged in the throat, the only effective treatment is Fluven, a vet-medicated wormer. However, for routine worm control, it is advisable to rely on faecal egg count kits before resorting to medication.
4. Using a Faecal Egg Count Kit:
A faecal egg count kit is a practical tool for evaluating the worm burden in your flock. It typically includes a plastic glove, a large collection bag, and a small sample case for the stool.
To conduct the test, collect fresh faecal samples from different hens and areas around the coop. Place the samples in the large bag and mash them up. Then, transfer a portion of the mashed sample into the small plastic container provided in the kit.
5. Sending Samples and Receiving Results:
Once you have prepared the samples, simply send them off to the lab. Most laboratories will process and test the samples on the same day they receive them, providing you with prompt results.
This straightforward process allows you to monitor your flock's worm burden accurately. Remember, it's essential to repeat the faecal egg count every three months for consistent monitoring. If you introduce new hens to your flock, it is particularly important to test them as well.
Regular worm monitoring is vital for maintaining a healthy flock of hens. Relying solely on medicated worm feed can lead to drug-resistant worms, rendering the medication ineffective. By using a worm count kit, you can check your flock's worm count and take action if needed.
Testing every 3 months and for new hens keeps them healthy and thriving all year. With a proactive approach to worm monitoring, you can provide your hens with the care they deserve while minimizing the risk of worm infestations.