Wormers - Do or don't?


11 Years
Aug 12, 2008
San Diego, CA
I read in Speckled Hen's flock management post about not medicating unnecessarily. I was given a book by a friend that mentions deworming your chickens twice a year. Is this necessary? I was under the impression that DE takes care of worms and other pests. Just want to clarify the info. Thanks so much in advance!
I have never wormed chickens in all the 33 years I've been raising them. Nor did my mama, nor her mama. Never have seen a worm in an feces, nor had any birds suffering from anemia or worm related ailment.

Not necessary, IMO.
I'm not an experienced opinion, mind you, but Lollipop recommends using cayenne pepper for wormer. I'm kind of liking that option because it's not medication, but if there is something going on in there, the cayenne pepper should clear it out.

On the d.e., my understanding is it's a great preventative, not a great treatment if you do get a problem.
DE mostly kills external parasites but will kill some internal if they eat it. Pepper will kill some parasites. These items will keep a low parasite load lower but they will not treat an infestation or animals living on land with a heavy parasite load.

The ideal way would be to have a fecal egg count down by a vet. Then you'd know exactly how many and what parasites you have on the place. Then you could make a decision based on that as to whether it's necessary to deworm them and use the proper treatment for the most prevalent parasite or just stick with something mild like the pepper. The ideal way doesn't usually happen even though it's generally not expensive and only requires a bit of effort to get fresh poop from a couple chickens.

The reason that would be ideal is that how much you need to deworm your animals depends on many variables. Some will get away with never deworming and never have a problem or high parasite load. Some will have to deworm on a strict schedule to prevent an infestation. The main thing that contributes is how many animals you have. Not just of chickens but also other livestock and pets. Most internal parasites do not complete their lifecycle in the host and have to be reingested or their eggs are passed with the feces to be reingested. To keep getting reinfected with parasites the animal has to keep ingesting more of them. The more animals around pooping out parasites the more there is to be ingested. How much space the animals have also has some impact. Then how clean and dry you keep things would be next. Finally we have the wildcard. You can do everything that lowers parasite loads but if you have a ton of wildlife around they may be spreading parasites to your animals. Then you'll still end up finding you need to deworm.

People can guess at what your animals need based on your setup and most likely you will never need to deworm but the only way to get a for sure answer is to call a vet.
Twice a year seems excessive to me, but I do worm once a year in the late fall. I have never seen any indication of worms, but I figure they are likely to have them. If I can make winter less stressful on them in any way I will, and that means making sure they are in peak health.
Bingo! There's the real issue!
If your property is susceptible to parasites, then you are going to have an issue at one point or another. Most worm / parasite eggs can lay dormant in the dirt for years just waiting for a host to pick them up. With that in mind, you may or may not ever have to worm your flock. Adding food grade DE to the feed and offering chopped, hulled pumpkin seeds with buttermilk (mine love this!) every few months are great preventatives as well. Time will tell whether or not you need to worm your flock.
You worm your dog,your cat,your horse so why would you not worm your chickens? My dogs get wormed every few months same for the cats my horses every 8 weeks so twice a year isn't much for a chicken. I bought some of those chickens that didn't need to be wormed according to the people...wormed them anyway and boy they blossomed....thier coats shined better they gained weight and started laying better.As my vet has always said once you see a worm in any animal you have a severe problem...not a minor one.
I add cayenne pepper and DE to their feed when I buy it. I plan on having a fecal count done once a year same as I do my dogs and cats. If they see a problem I'll worm them.

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