Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bloody Egg. Do My Chickens Have Worms? (And A Giveaway!!)

Dear Bee –
I read online that finding blood on the egg shell is a sign of capillary worms in chickens. Can worms be present inside of eggs? The same site said chickens should be given chemical dewormer orally to rid them of worms and as a preventative measure too. Do you agree?

Bee's Answer:
Nope.  Eggs come from the oviduct, not from the intestines where most parasites dwell.  

(This is a good illustration of a chicken's ovary and the potential eggs this hen would have laid.  While the illustration is helpful for the purposes of illustrating this post, I also wish to point out that this particular hen wouldn't have been a good layer. A good layer would have a much larger ovary with many more eggs in various stages of development.)

Parasites usually live in the small intestines which have a greater blood supply than the large intestines. That's quite a distance from where the eggs come from.  ....that's why they are clean instead of covered in poop when they come out ~ different tube.  

Blood on an egg could mean any number of things and it's usually not repeated... as in one hen always having bloody eggs.  I've seen it on very, verylarge eggs, on the eggs of new layers, and on the eggs of hens getting back into laying from a slow down, etc.

This obsession folks have with chickens and worms is often a source of amusement for me.  I've never seen a worm in any feces of any chickens I've kept down through the years and neither has my mother.  It's just not that common to have worm infestations in healthy flocks.  Anyone who is dealing with heavy worm loads is doing something wrong along the way and needs to stop what they are doing instead of subjecting their flocks to harsh dewormers on a scheduled basis. 

Take it from someone who has seen the inside of a freshly killed chicken more than most ordinary folks have (I've been killing chickens since I was 10 yrs old)... high loads of internal parasites are just not a normal part of backyard flocks.  If they are becoming so, it could be because people are creating "super worms" by constantly and needlessly deworming their flocks.  
Super worms are created when worms survive the chemical dewormers and then breed more worms that can survive. Many flock keepers will then switch dewormers to kill the surviving worms, which leaves the survivors of THAT dewormer.  Now you have worms that can and will survive two dewormer chemicals... and it goes on and on.  Sort of the same way we get lethal e.coli and other pathogens that do not respond to antibiotics... because of the overuse of antibiotics in the human population creates germs that are survivors of anything that comes down the pike. 

I'll give the same advice here that I gave earlier... stop staring at poop, stop obsessing over every little egg abnormality, stop giving medicine on a scheduled basis out of fear of things.  Start just using good, simple flock management practices so that we can stop worrying over every little fart the flock lets.  Then we can rest easy and any bird that isn't doing well will stand out like a sore thumb against all the glossy, fat and healthy birds you have.  Then you take that bird and cull it.  That leaves all the pretty and healthy chickens still standing, leaving nothing to worry about. 

If you have more than one bird that isn't doing well... look to your flock management practices, not a quick fix of medicines that just create more problems. 

Bee -

Who's ready for a Giveaway??
The fantastic folks at Louise's Country Closet have kindly offered to give one lucky reader a key chain from their great selection. 
To register to win, please:
  • Become a follower of this blog (if you haven't already).
  • Go to Louise's Country Closet and take a peek at all the great items out there.
  • Comment on this blog and let us know which key chain you like the best!
One winner will be randomly selected from all the comments we get and that winner will be announced next Wednesday, November 28th, 2012.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

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