Just a quick ? Chickens CAN eat earthworms...right? I hope so, because with all the rain we've had, they are out in numbers, and I planned on letting the chicks out soon as its warm enough. My chickens are sooo into bugs and crawly things that they WILL find them and eat them! Do I need to have the kids go out and collect them all so the chicks dont eat them, or is it ok? I thought I read that earthworms carry something, but I dont remember what.
Chickens & Earthworms?
Earth worms can carry gape worm and capillaria but there really isn't a whole lot you can do to keep the birds from finding them. Its just not wise to go out and collect them to feed specifically to your birds. As the birds get older they will develop more resistance just like human adults do.
That is one of the biggest reasons to have fecals done before worming, it can tell you what to worm for since wormers can be parasite specific.
Ah, I know they carried something! Alright I've sent the kids out on a scavenger hunt to remove the crawlies from our yard for now. They probably wont get all of them, but at least our yard wont be crawling with them andbe easier for the chicks to find and eat.
At what age do I start doing fecal tests and de-worming them if needed? Are there any other meds or vaccines they should have now that they are out in their coop? The coop is newly built and was never used by another chicken or any other poultry of any kind, and I even fully disinfected it (scrubbed with bleach and water, then rinsed with GSE- Grapefruit Seed Extract -which is a natural, healthy cleaning aid that kills mites and parasites) after we built it before putting them out there. The chicks are about 4 weeks old now.
Edited by 4H kids and mom - 4/1/07 at 7:12am
Geography seems to play a large part in what you worm for and how often. There is a woman I know who lives in TX, due to a heavy capillaria load on her property she is on a quarterly worming routine. Most don't do more than twice a year.
At this point until I see a reason to switch I'm using Wes' worming routine in reverse. He said he uses Wazine for the first worming in late Winter/ early Spring and Eprinex for the second, later worming.
4H kids and mom, that is the best attitude to take about the argument about worming or not. That is why I mentioned the geography and what populates your home place. Folks can holler and yell about how they have never wormed their birds, which is great for them, but that does not mean its the right thing to do for everyone. They should also ask themselves if they had birds dieing at a young age was the reason not having a worming program?
My birds contracted capillaria from eating infected bugs if I hadn't wormed those infected I would have lost the birds. Just like you, it was cheaper for me to treat the birds then let them die a painful death and have to replace them once they died.
I'm pretty low maintenance with my hens and let them wander around the yard eating whatever they want. I often give them a shovel full of compost that has tons of red worms and they go crazy!
Are there risks with doing this... maybe. In the years I've had chickens I've not had a problem. For me, this is a huge bonus of having chickens... them eating all the creepy crawlies around the yard. I guess I could be more cautious, but the pro's of letting nature do its thing outweigh any potential costs.
Nifty, again its dependant on your area. If you're not seeing strange colored droppings or blood and the birds are normal weight then you're probably fine. Stopping the birds from eating the bugs & creepy crawlies is next to impossilbe. The good thing is that they do obtain more immunity as they age, my guys were less than a year old when they picked up the capillaria. And it was only two younger birds, not the entire flock of all but two birds being under a year old.
Good points, and you're spot on... lots of variables to consider. I guess I need to consider I'm coming from the perspective of someone who hasn't (knock on wood) had problems with disease or infestations. My outlook may change if I ever started loosing birds that were getting sick.