There are a variety of worms that your chickens can pick up, but a healthy worming regime will help keep infestations under control. There are plenty of worming products available, but we use Flubenvet, which is recommended by several other chicken keepers, vets and poultry magazines too. Itís good stuff!
You can also mix a little Diatomaceous Earth (DE) in with their food.
Irregular and odd poops; eg. worms in poo, constant runny poops
Loss of appetite
Drop in egg production
And in the case of gape worm; chickens stretching their necks and panting to breathe
Mites & Lice
External parasites that feed from your birds. Some live on your chucks 24/7, others like the much hated Red Mite feed on the birds in the night and hide in the woodwork of the coop in daylight hours. Nasty little things, and numbers can build up very quickly resulting in a full-blown infestation. In extreme cases the blood loss can result in anaemia and even death.
Check at the bases of feathers, particularly around the vent and under the wings, for scurrying bugs and white clusters (the eggs)
Run your fingers under the perches in the coop; in severe cases your fingers will come away bloody, a sure sign you have a big infestation that needs treating
A sudden drop in egg production
Depressed, motionless chickens with little appetite
Comb loses itís bright red and is paler than normal
Things to try
One magical product that I recommend to everybody: Diatomaceous Earth! A natural product formed from fossilised algae, parasites are killed when they walk across it as it punctures them and drains them of fluid. Itís really good stuff; simply sprinkle it where your chickens sleep, lay and dust bathe, dust the birdsí feathers with it, and you can even add a little to their food.
We had quite a few serious mite infestations before using DE; we havenít had one since!
Scaly Leg Mite
Slightly different in that this affects the birdís legs, with mites burying right under the scales. Again itís quite easy to treat from home, but should be done quickly (and to all birds, even if they show no symptoms) as in extreme cases it can cause lameness.
Raised scales on the legs, sometimes with the scales actually falling off
Affected birds limping
Visible white dots moving on the legs
Legs appear thick and lumpy
Things to try
Firstly you need to gently wash the legs using a toothbrush and warm slightly soapy water. Try not to remove any scales. Repeat daily.
After theyíve been cleaned smother the legs in VaselineÖthis will suffocate the mites and help soothe any irritation the chicken is experiencing. Repeat as many times a day as possible, and continue for a week even after the problem seems to have disappeared. As I already said, treat all the birds in the flock and not just the ones that have symptoms.
As with the others, in severe cases a trip to the vet may be in order.