You may not believe it but a normal silkie is probably harboring some worms in their body at all times. A healthy chicken can tolerate a small amount of worms in their system, but it is when a bird is sick or stressed that this can become a problem. If the bird’s immune system is down this can lead to an over population of worms.
Chickens should be wormed regularly to prevent this buildup of worms in the digestive system and elsewhere in their bodies. If you keep your birds in an enclosed run or in a fixed grazing area this can lead to an increased number of worms. The poo from the chicken will contain worms and worm eggs will then be on the ground as well.
Infected silkies can shed thousands of eggs in the feces onto the ground. Worm eggs are so tiny that you will not be able to see them.
Symptoms to look for if you think that your bird has worms would be : worms in the chicken’s egg, abnormal droppings, diarrhea, foamy looking poo, weight loss, pale comb and wattles, listlessness, dirty vent feathers, worms in droppings, gasping and head stretching, head shaking, reduced egg production and sudden death of the bird.
Worming can be hard on the chicken’s body and should not be done without some thought. If you choose to worm, avoid worming during the winter in freezing temperatures. Do not worm if your bird is molting or under six weeks of age. Most people that worm do it in the spring and in the fall.
There are several different types of worms that may be found in poultry. Hairworms/threadworms are found in the crop, esophagus and intestine. Round worms are common and found in the digestive tract. Tapeworms are found in the intestine. Gapeworms can be found in the trachea and lungs. Cecal worms live in the ceca where poo is made. These different worms enter a chicken when the bird eats worm infected droppings or if it eats a slug or insect carrying worm eggs.
When choosing a wormer, be sure that the wormer you select is recommended for the type of worms you are treating. Not all de-worming medications are capable of treating all kinds of worms.
You may want to order an at-home Fecal Worm Test Kit which is available on-line. This will let you know whether or not your chicken has any worms.
Even if you suspect that one chicken has worms, you should treat the entire flock. It is best to do it twice a year, in the fall and in the spring. You will need to treat the birds twice. Once to get rid of the adult worms and the second time to get rid of the worms that have hatched from eggs since the first treatment.
Wazine ( piperazine) is used to worm round worms. Check the directions on the bottle for treatment and egg withdrawal time. That would be the amount of time you will not be able to eat eggs that are laid. Wazine is added to the birds drinking water.
Invermectin pour-on treats roundworms, threadworms, gapeworms as well as mites and lice.
These three done in a rotation (one in the spring, a different one in the fall, and the third one the following spring) will cover all worm infestations.
Durvet Strike III Type B medicatied feed is used as an aid in the control of infections caused by intestinal parasites (worms). It has an antibiotic in it. It helps to heal but not to get rid of worms.
Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade is a more natural type of dewormer. You mix it into your feed. 1/4 cup of DE to 35 oz of feed.
Pumpkin seeds in kernel form or pumpkin seeds in the shell help to make the environment inside the chicken less attractive for the parasite. The seeds are more suited to preventing worms than removing them.
The best worm preventative is to keep your chickens healthy. Give them proper food without too many treats. Do not feed them on the ground but in bowls or feeders. Clean and sanitize feeders and waters every week. Add vitamins to the water to improve their immune system.
Do not crowd birds. Keep the coop clean and change the litter to beak the eggs cycle. Rotate the runs and pasture. Chicken tractors are a great way to move your chickens from one grazing site to another. Keep the grass cut short. Sunlight helps to kill the worm eggs.
Fall poultry shows are coming up and hopefully, if you are planning on showing, you have selected your birds that you are bringing and are in the process of conditioning them.
Conditioning means that you have separated your selections from the rest of your flock and have made sure that the boys and the girls are not in the same pen. Separate areas are important as rowdy boys can break or tear feathering on the females.
You should also be feeding them a diet that is high in protein to keep those feathers in tip top shape. Showbird food or Feather Fixer are good choices. I also add vitamins to the water or Roster Booster to improve the over all health and beauty of the bird.
About a month before the show you will want to start training your birds to be comfortable in a small wire cagesmall wire cage. These are the type of cages you will find at a poultry show. They are about 24 X 24 in size. Place the cage on saw horses so that they are about table high.
This enclosed cage will be very different from what your silkie is used to out in the coop. I would start with short time spans and then gradually increase how much time the bird spends in there.
You will need to teach your bird how to eat and drink inside of the cage. A good waterer for silkies is the pop bottle waterer. You buy the bottom where the birds drink from and then place a plastic pop bottle with water in it on top. They provide a spring to secure it on the side of the cage but I use small bungee cords and place something underneath the bottom to support it. I use an empty cat food can. I like these because they are small and don’t take up much space in the cage and because the silkie is less likely to dunk their heads and get wet and messy. You will want the judges to see a clean, dry bird. It is a good idea to remove the waterer before judging starts to keep your bird looking perfect.
The food container hangs on the side. I like to put food they really like in there while you are training them. Treats such as mealworms, sunflower seeds and berries, or cracked corn will teach your bird how to eat from the little container. They will begin to associate treats with time spent in the cage.
Learning to eat and drink from these different containers is very important. Silkies who have not had their feathers trimmed around their eyes will have a hard time finding the food and water in the cage. Use pink hair tape or blue painters tape to pin up the feathers in the crest which will allow the birds to see.
Place the feeders and waterers in the front of the cage. This will get them used to being on that side of the cage where the judge will be. A judge does not want to see a bird cowering in the back. They should be up front where they are easy to see and judge.
The judge will have a little baton that he uses to get the bird to pose properly. You should practice with a dowel or stick so that your silkie is used to seeing it in the cage and feeling it against its body.
Shows are very noisy places. You may want to place a radio by your cage so that the bird gets used to loud noises while they are in the cage. I have the radio tuned to the Oldies station that has lots of commercials.
Practice taking your bird in and out of the cage. The judge will be taking the bird out head first and placing it in the cage head first. You should practice the same way. Hold the bird with one hand under the keel one hand on top of the wings. Birds will struggle if they are not used to being handled. Judges would rather not work with struggling birds. Spread the wings out and check all over the bird the same way a judge would.
Give the bird a treat while handling them so that they associate people holding them with treats. Treats include Chicken Crack, Happy Hen Treats, Grublies, and Mana Pro Garden Delights. Roosters will especially need practice in handling. Sit with them on your lap when you are watching tv and cuddle up with them. You will enjoy it and so will they.