First necrospy--egg bound and roundworms

DragonDaddy

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Jan 6, 2013
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Folks:

After some agonizing, I decided to cull and perform a necropsy on this very thin hen who had not been gaining weight despite being isolated with starter crumble for a week. I was
worried that I wouldn't be able to tell what was wrong, but I'm sure now. She was massively egg-bound. Probably should have culled her sooner. The DIY necropsy was a good learning experience, after all.

I'm convinced that the egg binding was what was ailing her, but I did find several adult roundworms in her intestine. Probably about a dozen (in the last photo). I know that this is a subject of great debate, and I'm wondering whether to treat the rest of the flock for roundworms or to let them be. This is the only hen who is underweight. The rest are doing well, and don't have the protruding breastbone that this one hen had. Would it be at all reasonable to allow this moderate worm infestation to continue as a symbiotic relationship, rather than dosing the flock with chems?

My flock of about 20 free range on an acre or so of pasture and forest.

(Apologies for the slightly out-of-focus photos. **** you, Tim Cook!)




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dawg53

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Sorry for your loss, not much couldve been done about egg impactation. As far as worms are concerned; no debate about it. They have contaminated your soil with eggs and most likely your other birds have become infected as well. It's only a matter of time you'll see the worms effects in your other birds. I recommend that you worm your birds with valbazen or safeguard.
 

casportpony

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Sorry for your loss and thanks for posting your necropsy findings. I would do like Dawg53 suggests and de-worm them.

-Kathy
 
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DragonDaddy

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Thanks for the replies and sympathy. I'm assuming the other chx must have some roundworms as well. I guess what I'm wondering is whether there is any room for thinking that some level of worm infestation is normal, and if the rest of the flock appears healthy, they may be keeping it in check without medication?

I also have goats, and I know that such thinking is common in the goat world. That is, the goal is not to get rid of all worms, but rather to keep them to manageable level. The idea being that it is natural for the animals to have some small number of intestinal parasites, and the farmer has to balance the harm caused by the worms against the harm caused by the dewormer, the building up of resistance the meds we have available, etc. And there is some very recent thinking that worms may be a natural part of animals' biota, and reducing their #s to zero may cause more harm than good.

I have no outwardly obvious signs that the rest of my flock is suffering. This girl was going South fast but I'm very sure that was because of the egg binding, not because of the roundworms. If I assume that the rest of the flock has a similar # of worms, but they maintain weight, lay eggs, have energy, etc., would it make sense to wait and see if the worms become a problem?
 

casportpony

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Thanks for the replies and sympathy. I'm assuming the other chx must have some roundworms as well. I guess what I'm wondering is whether there is any room for thinking that some level of worm infestation is normal, and if the rest of the flock appears healthy, they may be keeping it in check without medication?

I also have goats, and I know that such thinking is common in the goat world. That is, the goal is not to get rid of all worms, but rather to keep them to manageable level. The idea being that it is natural for the animals to have some small number of intestinal parasites, and the farmer has to balance the harm caused by the worms against the harm caused by the dewormer, the building up of resistance the meds we have available, etc. And there is some very recent thinking that worms may be a natural part of animals' biota, and reducing their #s to zero may cause more harm than good.

I have no outwardly obvious signs that the rest of my flock is suffering. This girl was going South fast but I'm very sure that was because of the egg binding, not because of the roundworms. If I assume that the rest of the flock has a similar # of worms, but they maintain weight, lay eggs, have energy, etc., would it make sense to wait and see if the worms become a problem?
I do many of my own necropsies and send some off to UC Davis as well, and in all of the ones I have done I have only seen worms in one hen, no worms in any of the others, so I would have to say that it's not normal for mine to have them. Maybe you could have a fecal done and consult with a vet what worming program would be best for you.

-Kathy
 

dawg53

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Thanks for the replies and sympathy. I'm assuming the other chx must have some roundworms as well. I guess what I'm wondering is whether there is any room for thinking that some level of worm infestation is normal, and if the rest of the flock appears healthy, they may be keeping it in check without medication?

I also have goats, and I know that such thinking is common in the goat world. That is, the goal is not to get rid of all worms, but rather to keep them to manageable level. The idea being that it is natural for the animals to have some small number of intestinal parasites, and the farmer has to balance the harm caused by the worms against the harm caused by the dewormer, the building up of resistance the meds we have available, etc. And there is some very recent thinking that worms may be a natural part of animals' biota, and reducing their #s to zero may cause more harm than good.

I have no outwardly obvious signs that the rest of my flock is suffering. This girl was going South fast but I'm very sure that was because of the egg binding, not because of the roundworms. If I assume that the rest of the flock has a similar # of worms, but they maintain weight, lay eggs, have energy, etc., would it make sense to wait and see if the worms become a problem?
Do you have a dog or cat? Is the goal the same for your dog or cat, ie...allow a small number of parasites? How would you know your birds have a small wormload without necropsy? To assume the rest of your birds have the same amount as the necropsied hen is guesswork. Chickens pick and peck the ground constantly...that's what they do. They have a greater chance of picking up worm oocysts and eating oocyst infective insects more than any other livestock animal. Rotating pasture, dry soil conditions, wormers, and rotating wormers prevents and treats worms.
 

DragonDaddy

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Good point. I have 3 dogs, who are all on monthly wormers, I think largely to avoid heartworms, which are fatal, but which also address intestinal worms except for hookworms.

It seems like there is a point of view that one should not treat worms unless they are a problem. See, for example, this link from NC State Univ. which states "Usually, low levels of infestation do not cause a problem and can be left untreated." Or this link from Univ. of New Hampshire which states " Mild infections of ascarids often go unnoticed, but severe infestations can cause a reduction in nutrient absorption, intestinal blockage and death." Another non-university example: this link stating: Most books will tell you that chickens can co-habitat, if you will, with worms, as long as the flock is healthy and with no vitamin deficiencies. Some books suggest worming every Spring and Fall while others recommend taking a stool sample every Spring and Fall to your local veterinarian to have it tested for worms prior to making the decision. All of it seems to be good sound advice, however, not many books tell you what to look for or what to use.

Really, I'm not resistant to worming. I'm just trying to gather information, and it seems like there is a diversity of opinions of this subject.
 
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casportpony

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Read this:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...feather-damage-while-molting/50#post_14133795
Well, they day started out ok, DW said 'There's a coyote setting in the field watching the birds'. BOOM! Now there is a coyote laying in the field watching nothing.
celebrate.gif


Then went out to feed the flock, mixed up the Safeguard into the mash and was putting it into their bowls when I noticed that a little broody raised chick was feeling down. We noticed it yesterday coughing a bit but it looked worse today so we gave it a shot of Baytril. In about three minutes it was dead.
hit.gif
Now, these birds have been wormed recently with Safeguard in the water, 3ml per gallon and the fecal exam we did last week showed there to be round worm eggs. I started putting the correct amount into the mash and today was the second day of treatment.

We took the chick to the vet to have a necropsy done and this is what we found.



There was a black spot on the liver and two worms in it. The gut had around thirty more worms in it, most of them dead only a few were still moving. The vet said that the bird was likely going to die within a few hours anyway but the stress of being caught heightened the heart rate and the stress killed it. Most of the internal organs looked clean except the liver and gut.

The massive amount of worms dying could have been enough to cause a toxicity problem but they had not had time to decompose yet so the damage had already been done. Remember that these birds have already been through two worming treatments given in the water. The Safeguard in the food had killed most of the worms after one feeding.

The vet and I had talked about doing a one day worming on the grow out pen and following it up a week later with a five day worming. Any thoughts?
-Kathy
 

DragonDaddy

Chirping
7 Years
Jan 6, 2013
22
3
77
OK, I'm seeing additional threads such as this one, in addition to dawg53's many helpful posts, where the subject has been thoroughly hashed out. I'm not trying to flog a dead horse. Seems like there is a diversity of opinions on this subject.
 

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