A Hocking County resident contacted me recently as she had noticed a problem in her backyard layer flock. This past summer she lost two hens and this winter she had another that was showing similar signs as the first two. From her email:
This summer I lost two hens, and may be losing a third. All were/are Golden
Comets, around 4 years of age. (I keep my hens longer than some folks.)
Typically they become dis-interested in food and more interested in water;
feces are more watery and the feathers around the vent are messy and coated
with white; I can scatter grain on the ground and they look at it closely
but won’t take it – seems like they are just reacting to the movement; they
wander around looking at the ground and randomly peck at things but don’t
actually eat; they disengage from the flock; weight loss; often will fluff
all their feathers and huddle in one spot; otherwise appear healthy – no
nasal or eye discharge, eyes are bright, feathers look healthy.
I asked her to bring in a fecal sample. I have a microscope as do many other Educators and have the ability to run fecal floatations in my office, as do all Veterinarians.
This sample did not look too bad. That may or may not mean anything however.
I do not have a centrifuge. I mixed the sample with Fecasol and let it sit for a good hour with a cover slide on top. The bits on the slide are grass, I need a better strainer method I guess.
The parasite egg that I identified was from Capillaria. CLICK HERE for more information on this parasite. This is not the exact egg, just a picture example. (source:UPenn Vet)
This problem is treated by deworming. I recommend worming the flock once or twice yearly. Minding all withdrawls times.
It used to be that only Piperazine was labelled for this use. It is only recently that Fenbendazole, a much more effective anthelmintic, has been approved for use.
Fenbendazole <———- Click here for PDF of new labelling.