Your result will say which type of worms were seen in the sample and the number reported as e.p.g. or ‘eggs per gram’. Whether you need to worm or not will depend on the number and type of eggs seen.
Which worms are covered by the test?
Three types of internal parasite effect poultry that can be detected on a worm egg count. These include:
- Gastrointestinal worms that live in the bird’s guts. In poultry these include Ascaridia (chicken roundworms), Amidostomum anseris (gizzard worm), Bunostomum (Hookworm), Capillaria (hair or threadworm), Heterakis (caecal worm) and Raillietina species (tapeworm).
- Syngamustrachea (gape worm) which lives in the windpipe.
- Eimeria (coccidiosis), a microscopic parasitic organism called a protozoa.
Note that Tapeworm eggs may not show up in a worm count because of the way they are expelled. If you see anything that you are unsure of then please include it with the sample for checking.
What does my result mean?
Your result will say which type of worms were seen in the sample and the number reported as e.p.g. or ‘eggs per gram’. Whether you need to worm or not will depend on the number and type of eggs seen. The sign < means ‘less than’, so a result of <50 epg means no eggs seen in the sample.
Gastrointestinal worms and Gapeworm
- Up to 200 epg means a LOW count. Healthy birds can generally deal well with a low level of parasite infection, there is no need to worm at this level unless Capillaria Heterakis or Tapeworm is seen, in which case treatment is advised. (Although Heterakis itself is harmless it can be a carrier for the parasite that causes Blackhead.)
- Between 200 epg and 1200 epg is a MEDIUM count and the bird needs worming.
- Over 1200 epg means a HIGH count, the birds need worming and the programme/husbandry needs attention.
The poultry keeper’s aim is to ensure that birds are exposed to low levels of coccidiosis to enable them to build up natural immunity but not so many that they succumb to disease. While the number of coccidial oocysts relates to burden of infection, relatively high levels may be seen in dung samples without disease being present. Monitor infection levels, look out for symptoms of disease and consult your vet where necessary.
- <5000 e.p.g. no need to treat
- 5000 – 50000 e.p.g. worth consulting with your vet and looking out for loose droppings and other symptoms.
- >50000 e.p.g. disease usually present, consult your vet
Flubenvet is the only licensed wormer for Domestic Poultry, effective against gapeworm, large roundworm, caecal worm, hairworm, and gizzard worm in chickens, turkeys, and geese it treats adult worms, larvae and eggs.
If worms are identified then treat your birds with a course of Flubenvet 1% in feed for seven days. A 60g pot will be enough to treat a 20Kg bag of feed which would last 25-30 hens one week.
Birds on the ground with known worm infestations are susceptible to re-infestation. In such cases, re-treatment with another 7-day course, after 3 weeks is recommended.
Test again in 8-12 weeks.
Flubenvet is NOT an effective treatment for tapeworm or coccidia; if these parasites are identified in a sample you will need to seek treatment from your vet who can prescribe a suitable product. For tapeworm this is most likely to be praziquantel. For Eimeria sp. (coccidia) treatments such as Harkers Coxoid and Baycox Poultry are available on veterinary prescription. (Harkers Coxoid is only available on general sale for pigeons but not for food producing birds). These products are added to drinking water; the birds should not have access to unmedicated drinking water during the treatment period. Additionally it would be highly recommended to disinfect in and around the hen house to kill eggs in the environment and focus on good gut health to build immunity in the affected birds.
Good management practice and animal husbandry techniques will also help to break the lifecycle of any parasites mechanically, reducing your reliance on chemicals.
Remove droppings from housing areas regularly.
Wherever possible let in natural light, keep grass short and harrow loose surfaces of the range with a rake or similar implement. This will expose worm egg and larvae to harmful UV rays, a very effective way of reducing infective burdens on the ground.
Move drinkers and feeders to reduce poaching of the ground and also the build-up of worm eggs in the vicinity.
Clean and disinfect the inside of poultry housing, especially the floor areas, with a disinfectant effective against worm eggs and other bacterial and viral diseases. Dehydrating agents are also effective in acting as a desiccant in poultry houses, on scratching areas and in close vicinity to the living area.
If it's not gapeworm (identifiable on a worm egg count) chicken and turkeys can get bacterial or mycoplasmal diseases in the respiratory tract. Morbidity is typically high and mortality low in affected flocks, and signs are generally more severe in turkeys. Antibiotics may reduce clinical signs and transmission through eggs, but they do not eliminate infection.
Tylan or tetracyclines is an antibiotic that a veterinary surgeon can prescribe to treat infection. It comes as a soluble powder but there is also an injectable form that vets will sometimes use as well. The injectable form is not licensed for use in hens producing eggs for human consumption in the UK.
Some chicken-savvy vets have started to prescribe the use of Ivermectin as a spot-on treatment. This is prescribed on cascade as it’s not yet licenced for use on poultry in the UK. It acts in the same way as the spot-on flea treatments you use on your dog or cat, and prevents lice and mite infestations. (Red Mites and Scaly Leg Mites being the two main ones). It's will also treat most intestinal parasites of poultry (with the exception of tapeworm and coccidia) though a spot on treatment for endo (internal parasites) will not be as effective as an intestinal wormer.
When prescribed by a vet the product often this comes as a cattle pour-on or pigeon product. Put a couple of drops on the skin at the back of the neck each quarter.
Dosage is important - Avermectins are more toxic to waterfowl than chickens so this is particularly important if you are treating ducks or geese!