Avian Parasite Control
Worms, Protozoan and Mites/Lice
- Very difficult to detect from just looking at a bird or it’s droppings.
- Chickens/poultry may or in many cases do not show any changes in behaviour unless the infection is very severe.
- Parasite control programs are not about eliminating the parasite. That is impossible in many instances. A control program is about managing the parasite numbers by keeping them low.
- This can only be done if you know what’s going on.
Monitoring for Parasites
Internal parasites are easy to monitor for. We use what is called a faecal egg count (FEC) to determine the species and extent of an infection.
A “golf ball” sized bag of droppings from all the birds in the flock or even a specific “sick” bird can be submitted to a veterinary clinic.
Results indicating worm or coccidian presence and often times the exact species is indicated. This way you know if you have a problem.
Note: We do not recommend using chemicals prophylactically as it is expensive, increases parasite resistance and often doesn’t address the infection.
- Benefits of a FEC
- Many species can be identified.
- Cost is very low.
- Treatment can be targeted and timed.
- Results received in a few days.
The Small Flock Program
- Every 6 months - FEC to determine the type and level of challenge
- FECs can be done as well if you notices wet faeces or signs of diarrhea.
- Target treatments: Round vs Flat worms vs Coccidiosis.
- Coccidiosis – tends to happen in young birds and stressed birds or when a new bird is introduced into an existing flock or flock moves properties.
- Worms – Burdens vary with the type of range area and number of birds.
- Coxiprol (Amprolium) is available online from multiple sites and a veterinary prescription is not needed. Coxiprol works by slowing the replication of the protozoa allowing the body to mount it immune response.
- Baycox (Toltrazuril) is also available online and no prescription is needed. Works by eradicating large amounts of the protozoa.
- Trimethoprim/ sulfate antibiotic can be used with veterinary prescription and given orally
- Natural products can include: The Good Stuff Essential Oils
Worm Control - Round Worm
Round Worms have a few products that are effective. Oral medications tends to be more effective.
- Ivermectin is available in most clinics and can be given orally or on the skin at the same dose.
- Aviverm (Levamisole) is commonly available in stores and online. Avirverm is added to the drinking water. The flavor is bitter so it can be tricky getting birds to drink their allotted amounts.
- Flubavet (Flubendazole) is a powder that can be given on food or dosed orally. Due to the mix ratio, it can be hard to obtain consistency with this product.
- Fenbendazole is also available over the counter at most agricultural shops.
- Avitrol plus is a liquid format and covers most round and flat worms.
- Worming Tablets are available under script from Avian Empire in different actives and strengths.
Worm Control - Flat Worm
Flat worms are becoming more of an issue in NZ and around the world as more birds are being free ranged. Praziquantel and Flubendazole are the only effective chemicals for the treatment of flat worms. Avitrol Plus, Flubavet and worming tablets are the products you will need to have on hand.
Control - When your numbers are low (the multi layered approach.)
Layer 1: Husbandry, keeping the coop clean by removing organic debris and droppings regularly. This is elbow grease. Scrubbing and washing the inside and sometimes outside of the coop with water and soap is a very cheap and effective way of minimizing mite populations.
Layer 2: Monitoring , have a look at least once a month for small red mite colonies. Usually in and around nest boxes. Populations tend to explode in the warmer/humid months.
Layer 3: Apply predator mites (Poultry Defender) at the start of the warmer, humid months, or if you start to see and increase in population.
Layer 4: Medications (If you are using your first 3 layers well then medication should only be used sporadically and in a targeted manner)
Reset - When your red mite populations are out of control.
Layer 1: Start by giving the coop or run a big clean. Minimize clutter as best you can. Scrubbing and washing the inside and sometimes outside of the coop with water and soap. Clean all purchase, nest boxes, nooks and crannies. This will start minimizing the mite populations.
Layer 2: Seal all cracks and crevices, mites love to hide here, don’t make it easy for them.
Layer 3: Use a mite specific medication to treat birds. Repeat, if necessary.
Layer 4: Apply predator mites (Poultry Defender) two weeks after the final treatment. Predator mites will die if they eat infected red mites.
Note: A simple easy to clean chicken house is the best kind of chicken house.
Treatments and Medications.
Poultry Defender (Predator mites) - Competitive exclusion. Using wood shavings or other clean organic material in your coops and nest boxes will help predatory mites establish. These predatory mites if given the correct environment to thrive will hunt out Red mites.
Note: Never add predator mites to a coop that has recently been treated with chemicals, or birds who have been medicated with anti-mite treatments. If this is the case, wait two weeks before introducing the predator mites.
Exzolt (fluralaner) – Expensive but very effective. Can be dosed individually orally or through the drinking supply. Needs two treatments 7 - 14 days apart.
Ivermectin – Off label use*, will require a prescription from a veterinarian. Effective for mites and Lice but not effective for scaly leg mite in all cases. With-holds of 10 days egg and 63 days meat.
Frontline Spray (Fipronil) – Use with CAUTION. Very toxic to Chickens but effective against mites/lice. 1 spray only on a Q-tip and rubbed into the bare skin under each wing. 10 days egg and 63 days meat with-hold. Do not use more than once per bird per month and do not spray directly onto birds.
*This means the drug is being used in a way or on an animal it wasn’t originally intended for. You will find a lot of avian medication is like this.
Larger “cigar-shaped” insects often seen under the feathers if parted. Louse eggs are often found on the shaft of feathers close to the skin. Treatment needs to involve the entire flock. Because lice feed on the skin, oral treatments don’t tend to be as effective as topical ones.
“VETMAX LOUSE POWDER” can be purchased online or at most vet clinics and dusted on the birds until lice are no longer found.
Repeat treatment as required. Remember to always follow instructions on the packaging.
Scaly Leg Mites
All birds in the flock should be treated at the same time to prevent re infections.
Oil based products can be effective but often need re application and oil can affect the quality of the feathers and waterproofing.
A permethrin water based cream can also be coated on the affected region much like the oil based products. A-Scabies is a cream that can be purchased from your local pharmacy. Apply to the legs for a few days.