Mystery worms? Could be gapeworms?


6 Years
May 12, 2013
Great North Woods of New Hampshire
Thought I would start a new thread, in the hopes that maybe someone else could use the info I am gaining on my own birds.

I noticed one of my birds gaping, than another and possibly one more. They had liquid dark brown, runny poop.

I started researching worms and came across a lot of info on gapeworm. Well at first I was certain it was gapeworm, even though it's really rare in chickens, now, well it could be SOME kind of worm, although I have not seen any worms come out of them.

I did the standard treatment of 2 days of safeguard, 3ml per gallon of water, and intended to retreat in the ten days.

The one bird I first noticed, started gaping again after 2-4 days of stopping the first treatment. Their poop had started to look a bit better, a little less runny, more firm with small runny poop with it, but rapidly went right back to all runny.

I looked and looked, on here, on Google, and could not find any answers, then stumbled on a thread on here, that talked about worming and found that gape, like tapeworm, is hard to eradicate. This was in the middle of retreating them with the meds in the water. Also read that treating orally, for any worms, and with valbazen, is much better.

I am now on day 5 of treating with the safeguard in the water, as I can't find info on whether I can switch, mid treatment, to the oral treatment. There poop is ALMOST back to normal now. Still a few with partial runny poops, and no, it is not cecal poo's.

I did a deep clean, again, as we had cocci back last summer, yesterday. I really cleaned it too. EVERYTHING got scrubbed with ammonia..all I had on hand and hosed down for a long long time, and dried really well. Have dumped all the bedding to burn tonight in a pile on the gravel drive. This is the second time I have had to burn a ton of bedding..sigh.

I really don't know if we have gapeworm, or some other worm, but it seems funny that they would start to show improvement after the first treatment, then get worse, then after starting retreatment, at night of day 6, from stopping first treatment, and they again are showing a lot of improvement. Poop is better, each day I see improvement. Overall behavior better and more active. They look like they are putting weight on, instead of eating tons and losing weight. I guess the proof is in the pudding...we had some kind of worm problem. I think it is gapeworm and if I see signs again, I will get a fecal float done to see.

I am going to keep treating them, in the water I guess, since it is working. Then after they stop the runny poo's totally for two days, stop. I hope that will be by day 7. I have read also, and please correct me if I am wrong, that I can treat them for 14 days straight with no lasting ill affects? I am also going to treat this as the first treatment, as I also read that gapeworm will detect the meds in the blood and stop feeding for 1-2 days, so the 2 day treatment, was of no use at all.

I also read, that with gape, I should have been treating orally, 3 times in 10 days. If we have this issue again, I will try that method, but mid stride here, I am not sure if I should switch!

I hope this helps others that are in the same shoes as I am. That is my intention, in writing this whole mess out! I will update when I stop treatment and if I have to retreat, which I do think I will...but will wait and see as the time comes for it. I think it's possible, that by making the chickens insides not "right" for any worms for an extended time, I can eradicate this if it is gapeworm.

I will build them back up with eggs and buttermilk in between treating, as I did the first time.

Thank you all, for all you have shared and written on here, as it has helped so much, in my decision process and my birds health!!!

I still don't know how I am going to "fix" my run, as earthworms are the primary vector for gapeworm.
According to something I read recently, treatment for Capillary worms is 50mg/kg by mouth for five days and treatment for gapes is 20mg/kg by mouth for three days. Given that you're using 3ml/gallon (150mg/gallon) I doubt that any of your birds are getting more than 5mg/kg, which is no where near enough to treat any worms. I have seen this dose referenced in many posts, but I have never seen a properly published article that says 3ml/gallon (150mg/gallon).

Bottom line... if you're a couple of days into the "water" treatment, finish the treatment orally at 20mg/kg or 50mg/kg.

Bottom line... if you're a couple of days into the "water" treatment, finish the treatment orally at 20mg/kg or 50mg/kg.


Thank you Kathy!!!! I don't have a way to weigh them though. I have a small hanging scale for fish, and that's it. They are many different weights....but I think, with the safeguard, I can get close? Maybe guess? I have heard that with safeguard, it is very hard to OD them. They are 16 weeks.

I think I would like to do the 50 mg but don't know how to figure the kg's. I remember that you wrote something on it, but can't find it...just went a kg 2.2 pounds?

Thanks so much Kathy!
I noticed one of my birds gaping, than another and possibly one more. They had liquid dark brown, runny poop.

Sorry...what is gaping?
Kathy, I found your post, just learned how to look up peoples posts, and got the breakdown, thank you...I did weigh them, with the fish scale, well one of them....and a bunjy...gently wrapped bunjy around feet, hung her upside down and hooked the bungy to the fish scale...took a minute tops, and once upside down, she just hung there, so it didn't hurt her. According to the scale, she only weighed ONE pound. They are 16 weeks now...that just doesn't seem right????? They look bigger as they have tons of down and feathers...I'm sure someday I will laugh at this?!

I used some English muffins..recommend real bread, and a pampered chef spoon that has tsp and ml on it...ok, so I am making due with what I have. I treated with 2.5 ml soaked bread, but have never given them bread, note to self...teach birds bread is good before having to use it to treat orally. Hadn't let them out yet, so caught and feed, after much arguing from them, the soaked bread. I doubt they got near the 2.5 ml, as I think more was on the shelf and me but they got a good bit of it. I figured I'd have some spillage and such, so used the higher doesage to try to get near the right one.

Now, I do the 3 days in 10, now that I am treating orally? I would guess so, as you said they were not getting enough in the water? If I don't hear back, I will do the 3 in 10. I think they got enough in them though and hopefully next time will be easier. OH, the reason I don't have the syringe is TSC was out and feed store doesn't sell them and I would still do the bread as I have never dosed a bird with a syringe and fear getting it down their lungs.

I am hugely surprised that one only weighed one pound ( and from the feel of them, they are all pretty close to the same weight, but for the roo )...that is worrying ( should I be?)...let's hope this takes care of it! PS. I think I wormed myself as well with all that was on my hands

Thanks again Kathy!!!

Gaping is when they open their mouth, kinda looks like they are yawning? and stretch their neck out, like when they adjust their crops, but they do it constantly when/if they have gapeworm. I think there are a few other reasons they do it, other health issues, but not sure what they are.
Oh, how many ml's would a mg be also? Sorry about so many questions!!! I only have a way to measure ml's or tsp's.

1 cc = 1 ml
Safegaurd has 100mg fenbendazole per 1 ml
5mg = .05 ml
10mg = .1 ml
15mg = .15 ml
20mg = .2 ml
25mg = .25 ml
30mg = .3 ml
35mg = .35 ml
40mg = .4 ml
45mg = .45 ml
50mg = .5 ml
and so on....

Make sense? FYI, this will be true for any medication that is listed at 10%.

- Kathy
2.5ml on a piece of bread is 250mg.

...good thing a lot of it was on me, on the shelf and still in the pampered chef spoon. English muffins don't soak up things like I though they would...good thing now, I think! Thanks for that info Kathy and for the above break down!!! Next time I go in town I will pick up a syringe for measuring!!!! Still will use real bread though, not the English muffins!

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