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Worming Chickens
Kari Waggoner
11 January 2005
Something I learned about worming: If you have to worm, start gently. Worming is very hard on your birds.
Editor's Note
Most vets, even those that do not treat chickens, will inspect a fecal sample for worms and it it inexpensive. Since worming is so hard on your birds, it is best to check before treating for worms. Place a good sample (all coops, all that appear not perfectly healthy) of your birds on a clean surface, scoop up samples, and take them to your vet.
If your bird has a heavy roundworm load (which is not uncommon) or if the bird free ranges and hasn't been wormed in a long time, start slowly. If you use a broad-spectrum wormer first the massive worm kill off inside your bird's body can kill your bird. Start out with something like Piperazine (Wazine), which is no walk in the park, mind you, but is not a powerful wormer.
Administer the Piperazine according to the instructions and wait a week. The birds will poop out many of the roundworms. Note: the worms are NOT dead, just paralyzed. This shocked me the first time I was cleaning up from worming. It's not for the weak of stomach. Clean the bedding VERY well after these worms come out. After a week you can use a product called Ivomec Eprinex. It will kill the rest of the worms, including the roundworms that the Piperazine missed. Here is a good article about Ivomec Eprinex from Scott at The Easy Chicken website. Read it before doing anything with Eprinex. It is very well researched.
I do not eat the eggs for a couple weeks after using Piperizine. I know the amount of the drug excreted into the egg peaks between 48 and 96 hours after administering the drug but I am extra cautious. The Eprinex claims to have 0 withdrawal period (in milk and beef cattle which is what it is labeled) but again I am cautious. I give it a week before consuming the eggs.
I have used this very method several times and have had excellent success. The birds feel better after the worming, they look better, they lay better, and they eat better.
My rule is all new birds get wormed, I worm everyone once a year, generally spring, and if I am positive they need it. If the birds decrease or stop laying for no good reason (like weather, season change, parasites, coccidiosis), seem thin and tired, look frumpy and ruffled, then worms is my first thought.
Again: this is hard on the birds. Get them on some probiotics and treat them extra special with lots of treats, attention, and TLC.

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