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Free range poultry will be exposed to a number of parasites in their environment, the following is a guide to control roundworms and tapeworms.

Some Parasites include:

Round Worm

Free range birds will all be exposed to roundworms to some degree, so in order to keep worm burdens at a manageable level then worming every three months will usually suffice.  There are a number of products available that can be given in drinking water or given individually if you only have a few hens.

Tape Worm

These require a secondary host, such as snails and insects to complete their life-cycle.  Tapeworm eggs are usually visible to the naked eye in the faeces and look like a grain of rice.  There is only a need to treat your birds for tapeworms if you see the eggs in the faeces.

Chicken Mites

As mite numbers increase in warmer weather you may start to see signs of mite infestation in your chickens.  The signs differ depending on the mite but can be seen as damaged combs and wattles, scaly legs, pale combs, feather loss and damaged skin.  Mites themselves may be seen on chickens, their perches or eggs.

Aside from the clinical signs on the chicken, you may also see increased feed requirements and decreased egg laying.  This is caused by anaemia, which can in worst cases cause death.

Treating the chickens and hen house for external parasites

Eradication of all mites and lice can be difficult so treatment of chickens and hen house may need to be repeated to achieve success.  Diatom powder can be used to dust chickens.  The treatment should be repeated in 7-10 days to get the next stage of the life-cycle.

The hen house will need to be cleaned, bedding removed and sprayed with an insecticide such as Diatom powder or ripcord spray.


Reproduced with permission thanks to Franklin Vets, Papakura


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North Canterbury Veterinary Clinics operates four clinics throughout the Hurunui region.