I had no idea what this was when I first caught sight of the gently swaying bundle of tentacles warm and cuddly in a recently dropped, dropping!
A quick Internet scan and it seemed they were very likely to be round worm - but no matter what they were called they needed to go. Worming chickens seems quite easy when you are at the local produce shop with a selection of wormers in hand. Basically, you remove the chookies water a few hours before bedtime (to ensure they are thirsty in the morning) and then the next day give them water that is laced with the wormer - and watch them spend the day dehydrating in the hot Queensland sun rather than take the one sip required to kill off the worm population that have taken up residence in their guts.
After a week, I was convinced that some of them may have taken the required sip but the rest of the chookies were showing all the symptoms of having worms still.
So, I wormed them again in the conventional manner and once again, it would seem that a bunch of chickens is a bit smarter (or maybe even stupider) than you might first think. No matter what pretty shade of green that wormer was, they werent having a single sip of it.
What to do? Then I had this fabulous idea -
Here's what I did...
This method works better for making sure all the chooks get some worming solution inside them! To distract the more dominant chooks, I just throw some unsoaked bread a long way away and let them run after it while handing a laced bit to the other chookies. works a treat for me! If you have more than 4 or 5 chooks it may pay to have someone else with a checklist mark off the chooks who got a piece as they get it so no one gets missed. I saw this at Canberra Zoo when the keepers were feeding twenty or so fairy penguins a fish or three each. It was amazing to see as they all looked the same to me! But they assured us that this way even the small, infirm and not so confident get enough food. Worked for the penguins that's for sure and Im sure it will work for larger groups of chickens too!
Normally I don't feed my chooks white bread but this way I can see if the worming solution is in the bread and if they ate a bit that has it in it as it dyes the bread green.
Now I know each chook has about 10mls of worming solution inside her - the guy who sold it to us assured us that they only needed a few sips each to be effective. I haven't seen any more worms in the chooks poo since I did this but since one of my baby chicks died last week of no apparent cause I'm thinking that maybe a gut full of worms may have been the reason. So I'm anxious to make sure that each and every one of them gets dosed - especially the baby and the teenagers so that they don't succumb to a worm burden also...
Some thing else I read about worming was to use a different wormer next time I worm the chookies, which should be done every 3-4 months (or six months depending on which book you read) This is in case the worms build up a resistance and even though you are dosing them regularly, they still have too many worms to be healthy. I will check the active ingredient and try for a different one next time they need worming.
Oh - and as for de-miteing the wee darlings... I wait for them to go to bed and the put the dust into my hands and then open the coop and dust them one at a time while they shuffle about on the perch. The big older chookies just take it as an undignified intrusion not worthy of having attention paid to it- although they cluck indignantly. The smaller, more flighty ones explode all around the coop like wee dusty firecracker trying to let you know that they are, like so, not into being de-mited! I sometimes wait for full darkness to do the littlies as they don't carry on so badly in the dark (and are probably dazzled by the torch light)
Green-ness: 2/5 chemicals are not the best green thing to do. If I had noticed sooner, cider vinegar and/or garlic in their water is meant to be effective.
Frugal-ness: at $14 a bottle - its not frugal unless its effective... And if I have to buy a different bottle next time its even less frugal...
Time cost: About 3 minutes to do the maths and make up. About 10 minutes to make sure all the chookies got a decent dose!
Skill level: Maths skills, mixing and throwing accurately to the "right" chook!
Fun -ness: Great fun to know that they are dosed and simply not just hoping that they are!