Warm weather raises worm threat

Outdoor poultry are at an increased risk from parasitic worms following the recent spell of warm weather.

The “trigger” temperature for worm activity is commonly thought to be 10C, which allows worm development and completion of lifecycles, according to Janssen Animal Health.

As a result, more infective parasitic worm eggs and larvae in the soil will be picked up by poultry and other hosts, such as the earthworm, which are later eaten by the birds.

“The bad news is that, this year, the mild weather has meant that trigger temperatures have been experienced since March, giving worms an early start,” said a statement.

Depending on the worm species, it can take anywhere from 20 days up to two months for the lifecycle to be completed, so treatment now with an effective wormer can help birds stay healthy and reduce the contamination with worm eggs.

“Those who own birds with a high risk of infection, or with an active infection, may need to treat more often,” said the statement. “Seek advice from your vet or animal health adviser if you suspect worms are affecting your birds. It is worth asking for samples of droppings to be examined for worm eggs if your birds are laying poorly, failing to thrive or seem ill.”

The company, which manufactures the Flubenol and Flubenvet range of wormers, has also issued advice for game bird rearers.

Keepers are being reminded that using the same release pens year after year can build up problems. “Parasitic worm eggs can survive for up to a year indoors, depending on humidity and temperature, but invertebrates such as earthworms can carry infectious parasitic worm larvae for longer periods.

“Eggs and larvae can also adhere to insects and materials brought into the pens all year round, while wild birds can also carry worm burdens and shed worm eggs into pens. If you have not been able to move release pens, you have a much greater chance of build-up of infection.”

The worry for most keepers is gapeworm, or Syngamus trachea, which can complete its lifecycle in around 18-20 days. This means that, even after treatment, birds can be re-infected in less than three weeks.

“In the face of high infection pressure or an active infection, regular treatment within the pre-patent period is recommended,” said the statement.

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