How to identify, Treat and prevent worms in Poultry.

How to identify, Treat and prevent worms in Poultry.

May 09, 2024angelique van zuylen

Several types of worms can infect chickens, including roundworms, tapeworms, and gapeworms. These are all different creatures that cause their own set of health issues. For example, roundworms can cause diarrhea, while gapeworms provoke respiratory issues.

There are various options to treat worms, including medication and natural remedies. However, prevention is key when it comes to worms in chickens. We’ll go in-depth on the several types of worms and how to identify and eliminate them.

How Dangerous Is a Worm Infestation for Chickens?

Worms are widespread in chickens. Having a few parasites usually doesn’t cause big problems, but they can quickly become a major concern. Heavy worm infestations negatively affect a chicken’s overall growth, general health, and egg production.

Regular checking and deworming with an effective de-wormer improves the overall performance of your flock. How sick your chicken gets depends on the number of worms it carries. This can be measured by checking the number of parasite eggs in the chicken’s droppings.

How Do Chickens Get Worms?

The fecal-oral route is the most common way of transmitting worms from Bird to Bird. Usually, chickens poop out parasite eggs in their droppings. Other birds instantly develop parasites by consuming contaminated water, food, soil, litter, or droppings. 

Additionally, chickens can indirectly get worms by eating intermediary hosts like infected earthworms, bugs, snails, or other secondary hosts that spread the parasitic worms. These parasites reproduce, lay eggs within your chickens, and spread through droppings. That’s how their lifecycle continues.

7 Types of Worms in Chickens.

There are several types of worms that can affect chickens. Large intestinal roundworms and tapeworms are the most commonly seen in poultry.

1. Large Roundworms (Ascaridia galli)

Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasite in chickens, sometimes even in commercial eggs. Female worms grow up to 3-4 inches and are visible to the naked eye. They live in the small intestine of chickens and can be seen in chicken droppings during a heavy infestation.

2. Cecal Worms (Heterakis Gallinarum

Cecal worms are common roundworms living in the intestinal ceca of chickens, often causing little to no health issues. However, the worms can carry the protozoan parasite Histomonas meleagridis, which causes blackhead disease. The infected eggs are spread through droppings ingested by earthworms.

3. Capillary worms (Capillaria sp.)

Capillary worms (aka hairworms, threadworms) are tiny, thread-like organisms living in a chicken’s esophagus, crop, and intestines. They are just under half an inch in size and cause diarrhea, hemorrhage, anemia, and thickening of the intestinal walls. This results in poor nutrient absorption and growth.

4. Gapeworms (Syngamus trachea)

Gapeworms are common Y-shaped parasites that live in the windpipes of chickens, where they cause breathing problems. They can reach up to 13 inches. A gapeworm infection obstructs the airway, causing chickens to stretch their neck, shake their head, open their mouth, and gasp for air.

5. Gizzard worms (Amidostomum Anseris)

Gizzard worms are roundworms that live in a chicken’s gizzard, which is the muscular part of the stomach to grind food. They cause inflammation and malnutrition. Infected chickens suffer from weight loss, and hens slow down on egg-laying. Infected insects like grasshoppers and beetles can spread the worm.

6. Tapeworms (Eucestoda)

Unlike other worms, tapeworms are flat, ribbon-like intestinal parasites of the Cestode family. They live in the intestinal tract of chickens and can easily be noticed in droppings. Tapeworms are segmented, resembling the trunk of a palm tree. The segments (proglottids) contain parasitic eggs.


Chickens don’t always show many symptoms, but the tapeworm feeds on essential nutrients in the body, causing diarrhea and making chickens appear low in energy.

7. Eye worm (Oxyspirura mansoni)

Eyeworms are tiny white tropical roundworms that settle in the corner of a chicken’s eye in the tear ducts or third eyelid. They cause eye inflammation and excessive tearing. Chickens scratch their eyes and rub their feathers.

The Surinam cockroach spreads the eggs as an intermediate host. It’s found around the world in tropical and subtropical areas.

How to Tell if Your Chickens Have Worms?

At what age can you deworm chickens?

Chickens can be dewormed when they are 4 weeks old, but it’s recommended to wait until they are at least 6 weeks old. Deworming medication can be very harsh on the chick’s developing digestive system. Adjust the dose if you are deworming chickens before the age of 6 weeks.

How to Treat your chickens and when?

The best cure for parasites in chickens is prevention. That is why we recommend worming your birds every 6 to 8 months, even if they are not displaying symptoms of a worm infestation. Preventative worming is particularly important if your chickens are likely to be exposed to worms or if they free range.

Treatment: Aviverm Poultry wormer

One dose of Aviverm Chook Wormer to expel mature and immature roundworms for chickens, turkeys, ducks, cage birds and pigeons.

AVIVERM will not affect the growth rate or egg production of birds nor will it affect fertility or hatchability of fertile eggs.

More articles