There are three main species of worm that can cause problems in your flock:
These are large white worms found in the small intestines. In small numbers these are fairly harmless. However, once the numbers start to increase birds will start to scour, have anaemia, struggle to digest feed effectively, lose weight and cause the number of eggs and the egg quality to drop. In severe cases, these worms may cause an intestinal blockage.
These are small hair like worms that are found in the blind ended sacs known as caeca. They are mainly an issue as they are known to carry a protozoa known as Histomonas Meleagridis which can cause the disease 'blackhead'.
These are small, thin barely visible worms that inhabit the crop and intestines. They burrow into the walls and cause inflammation of the infected area. Severe burdens can lead to death.
This disease is usually a disease of younger birds as older birds develop immunity to it. It is not caused by a worm but by a protozoa known as coccidia.
Birds will appear hunched with ruffled feathers, be scouring, lose weight and in some cases become anaemic. Droppings may also contain red mucus.
Different species of Coccidia are species specific and even within those species will only affect certain areas of the gut. It damages the intestinal walls causing inflammation, cell damage and in some cases bleeding.
The most common types of Coccidia are:
- Acervulina – causes inflammation in the upper part of the small intestine.
- Maxima – causes inflammation throughout the small intestines.
- Tenella – causes bleeding into the caeca.
How is best to manage worms and coccidiosis in my birds?
In older birds, we recommend performing a worm egg count every two to three months to check worm egg levels. Usually if any Heterakis or Capillaria eggs are detected we recommend worming with a licensed product such as Flubenvet (flubendazole). Herbal products have limited use and there is little evidence that they can provide a benefit in clinical cases of worms.
In younger birds it is important to monitor for coccidiosis. We also recommend performing a coccidial oocyst count if birds are beginning to show symptoms. There are many different treatments available for coccidiosis. Discussion with your vet would be advised.
[caption id="attachment_1156" align="aligncenter" width="225"] From left to right : Tapeworm, Ascardia (large worm), Heterakis (small worm at top right)[/caption]