Tapeworm (Davainea proglottina, Raillietina spp) In Chickens and other poultry

Contrary to the text books, we find presentations of tapeworm are fairly common in poultry including chickens, turkeys and pigeons. They are flat, ribbon-shaped, segmented intestinal worms belonging to the cestode family. Common species include Davainea proglottina, Raillietina echinobothrida, R. tetragona, and R. cesticillus. Adult tapeworms range in size from the smallest, the Fowl tapeworm, Davainea proglottina to and Raillietina cesticullus, Broad headed Tapeworm (adults 4-15cm long).
Tapeworm rely on intermediate hosts such as ants, slugs and snails to complete their lifecycle, making them more common in backyard poultry. Birds eat the infected morsel and ingest the parasite as a result.

tapeworm in poultry dung:

tapeworm in poultry dung


Tapeworm anchor to the wall of the small intestine and affect birds by removing nutrients resulting in stunted growth/weight loss, nutrition deficiencies, and increased risk of infection or disease. Davainea proglottina, Fowl Tapeworm is one species which can damage the intestine leading to peritonitis. If infection spreads to head and sinuses, affected chickens may present with neurological signs such as torticollis (aka wry neck).

DETECTION & Treatment

Tapeworm often present like grains of rice or flecks of white in the dung, sometimes moving with a sucker action. 

We do see tapeworm eggs in a worm egg count, but the way that they are excreted in packets in the dung, rather than being evenly spread as with other parasites, makes a worm egg count not a definitive test for tapeworm. 

Only a vet is able to prescribe a suitable treatment for this parasite; they will usually advise either double strength dose of Flubenvet or Praziquantel 7.5 mg/kg on cascade POM-V to be repeated in 2-4 weeks.

tapeworm in poultry dung