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Parasitic Worms and Their Treatment in Domestic Waterfowl

Stock should be wormed routinely twice a year, and on any other occasion which necessitates it e.g. a bird seems ill, or is coughing.

More frequent de-worming is needed where large numbers of birds are kept, where the stocking density is high, and where the ground has been used for a number of years and not been rested.

Ducks do seem to suffer less from worms than geese and chickens, but any bird which is under-weight or coughing should be wormed. Worms which affect waterfowl come in a variety of forms.

  • Gizzard worm (Amidostomum)—more likely to be lethal in geese.
  • Gapeworm (Syngamus) in the windpipe— these make birds cough and, in extreme cases, will asphyxiate them.
  • Round worm—live in the gut (Ascarides). Occasionally seen in droppings.
  • Caecal worm (Heterakis) which inhabit the caecae (two blind-ending extensions from the gut).
  • Also tape worm and fluke.

Most of these worms use earthworms and insects as a host, and wild birds are carriers. So, however clean the environment, there is always a low parasite presence. The higher the density of stocking in an establishment, and the greater the length of time over which the land has been used, the greater the importance of regular worming.

Treatment: Vermifuges

The preferred wormer for birds is Flubenvet. This vermifuge can be obtained from your vet and the dosage for ducks should be checked with a vet because ducks are not mentioned on the label. The white powder comes in a smaller 60g box (1%) which medicates 20kg of food, and a 240g tub (2.5%w/w) which medicates 200 kg of food (chickens and geese). The product usually has a very long use-by date. It is licensed for birds, and kills all the internal parasites (listed above) at the correct dosage.

60g box (1%) Just one 6g scoop (supplied) treats 2 kg of food for chickens or geese.

240g tub (2.5%)This is no longer available.

Ready-medicated layer pellets:these are manufactured by Marriages (2.5%) A 10kg pack is available and is suitable for in-lay females, and drakes for the short time

Mixing

  • Always mix a small quantity of food (2-3kg) to get an even distribution of the powder.
  • The white powder adheres well to the pellets—better than to wheat—so just use pellets over the worming period.
  • If wheat and pellets are used, dress the feed mixture first with a small amount of cooking oil. Then add the white powder. The oil dressing makes the powder stick better.
  • Don’t mix the wormer into the food with your hand because the powder sticks to your skin. Use a table spoon.
  • The disadvantage of Flubenvet is that you have to feed it for a week (seven consecutive days), in the food, for it to be effective. So birds who are really ill, and not eating, cannot be dosed in this way.
  • Further details at NOAH External link image

Delivery of flubendazole as a drench down the throat, (Solubenol liquid External link image, obtainable from the vet) would be more suitable.

In an emergency, mix a small amount of the powder with water, and use the dose as a drench daily until the bird is eating and can complete the dose on the food. However, a single dose wormer such as Panacur or levamisole, obtainable from the vet, would be the most effective.

Note that withdrawal times for Flubenvet are stated on the product label.

See these websites External link image for more info on medicated feed External link image made by Marriages.

Ivermectin (pour-on) for controlling internal and external parasites is now available in 10 ml dropper bottles (800 μg/ml [0.8%] strength). The recommended dosage for a non-food chain bird, such as a pigeon, is one drop (per 500g) on the skin once a week for 3 weeks. This package is marketed by PHARMAQ Ltd, Unit 15, Sandleheath Industrial Estate, Fordingbridge, Hants SP6 1PA TEL 01425 656081. It is only obtainable through a vet. It is not suitable for all animals.

The number of worm species that ivermectin kills is more limited than flubenvet (tapeworm & fluke are excluded: V Roberts: Diseases of Free Range Poultry) but it is doubly useful in that it also systemically kills external parasites, such as northern mite.

See also Worms in Waterfowl and Poultry External link image

CONSULT A VET ABOUT THESE PRODUCTS

ALWAYS OBSERVE WITHDRAWAL TIMES FOR THESE PRODUCTS IF THE BIRDS OR THEIR EGGS ARE TO BE EATEN

USE ALL THESE PRODUCTS WITH CARE AND DO NOT GET THEM ON YOURSELF, ESPECIALLY IVERMECTIN WHEN YOU SHOULD WEAR PROTECTIVE GLOVES

For further information on the use of veterinary medicines please contact your Vet or visit the website of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate www.vmd.gov.uk External link image who are the regulatory authority for veterinary medicines in the UK.