Why, How, and When To Worm Chickens - Worming With Piperazine

Why should I worm my chickens?

Any grazing livestock animal needs to be wormed regularly.  This goes for sheep, horses, goats, cattle – and chickens, too!  You may think of your chickens as pets (I know I do) but they live outside and eat off the ground.  Therefore, they will get worms on a regular basis.  It’s just a fact of life.

The most common worms that infect chickens are ascarid (roundworms).  An infected animal sheds roundworm eggs in its droppings.  10 days later the eggs hatch, and the larval roundworms wander off to look for a host.  Your chicken pecks at the ground or eats a bit of grass, and ingests the roundworm.

Chickens are also susceptible to capillaria (hairworm), and gapeworm.  But roundworm is by far the most common.

How do I worm my chicken?

There are two wormers on the market: piperazine (Wazine) and ivermectin.  Piperazine is sold over the counter, and you can probably buy it at your feed store.  If your feed store doesn’t carry piperazine for some reason, you can also order it online from chicken supply outlets.

Piperazine is easy to administer.  You just follow the directions, and put it into their drinking water.  Piperazine works really well against roundworms, but may not be as effective against other worm infestations.

If your chickens are very sick, you can get ivermectin from a vet.  This requires a prescription, and there are two different forms.  One form you drip onto the chickens’ shoulders, just like applying a topical flea treatment to your dog or cat.  Another form has to be administered orally.

The vet can help demonstrate how best to do this.  Basically you hold the chicken on your lap, then use a syringe (no needle) to squeeze some down their throats.  It’s not very fun, but it does work very well.

PLEASE NOTE you will need to throw away your hens’ eggs.  Most piperazine formulations have you discard the eggs for 14 days after administering the medicine.  Follow instructions carefully.

When do I worm my chickens?

As a matter of course, it’s good to worm them twice a year.  Most people worm their chickens in spring and fall, when the egg production drops off.  That way you don’t have to throw away as many eggs!

You should also worm your chickens if they seem listless, are eating more and either maintaining or losing weight, if their egg production falls off, or any other signs of illness.  Many chickens’ worm infestations goes undiagnosed until too late.  Don’t lose your chickens to such an easily preventable cause!

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