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Treating Parasites in Poultry

By Kelly Klober

Parasite control does much to keep birds both comfortable and in a thrifty, productive condition. The birds can be affected by a number of different internal and external parasites. Fortunately, the options for their treatment and control have broadened dramatically in recent years. Still, the first step to good parasite control begins with basic sanitation.

As a note, birds held in elevated pens, with no direct ground contact, will remain largely free of a number of internal parasites. This was one of the primary reasons for the early use of “sun porches” for growing out young turkeys for slaughter.

Early treatments for internal parasites involved putting some very potent household and plant products in drinking water or adding these products to rations. For example, pepper and garlic do have some curative properties, but are not good anthelmintics (or de-worming products). The first widely used wormer product was Piperazine added to the drinking water. It is still used to control round worms.

Diatomaceous earth (DE) has been fed as a wormer, but there is very little beyond anecdotal reports of success with using it. It is a contact killer and does its work by scouring soft tissue. Dane Hobbs of Brenham, Texas has developed a number of drinking water additives for additional poultry nutrition and support therapy. His organic Immuno-Boost product has some DE and I like to use it ahead of worming with other products. It seems to increase the knock down rate and overall effectiveness. The oral Ivomec product for cattle is now being used fairly widely with chickens. However it must be the oral and not the pour-on form of the product because the pour-on is not soluble in water. To use, add 11/2 cc’s of the product per gallon of drinking water and offer as the only source of drinking water to the birds for a twenty-four hour period.

Some do use the pour-on form of this product in a different manner, placing one or two drops of it to the back of the adult bird’s head or to another spot on the body, inaccessible to the bird. These products will control all parasites that feed upon bodily fluids. Do consult with your veterinarian before using any of these newer generation wormer products and administer them only to otherwise healthy birds. Consult your organic certifier to get a list of certified products before beginning treatment.

There are other worming products that can be used with poultry, but you must follow all label directions carefully. Any off-label use of a product should be done only under the direction of a veterinarian. It is also best to regularly rotate worming products to prevent the chance of any product immunity developing.

Early in the breeding year our vet recommends that we treat the breeding groups with a course of the product Corid (amprolium) in their drinking water. He sells us a few ounces as a prescription product and we administer it through the drinking water over a period of days. It is a coccidiostat, but seems to have some sort of residual effect on other parasites and the birds emerge in a more vigorous state. Check with your organic regulators about the use of coccidiostats before administering.

fowl mite
Northern Fowl Mite (Ornithonyssus sylviarum) is a common external parasite of both domestic fowl and wild birds

Chickens can have a number of external parasites including several types of mites. There are a number of control products available and they too should be rotated often in their use. The long time practice for mite prevention was simply to provide the birds with an area or box of wood ashes in which to dust themselves. Do not use the ash from treated lumber for this.

In my youth a whitewash made with lime would often be applied to roosts and interior walls of poultry buildings that provided some residual parasite control. With a heavy mite infestation we will dust the birds with that old garden standby, Sevin dust. It is an off-label use, but Adams Flea Spray has often been used as a spot treatment for mites, too. Any off-label use of a product should be done only under the direction of a veterinarian. Another spot treatment is a cloth dampened with Dawn dish soap, squeezed dry, and then applied to mite-infested areas with a dabbing action.

Remember–each producer must work out his or her own approach to health matters, just be sure to move quickly when health problems are encountered.

Source: Talking Chicken

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