Ascaridia galli, also known as roundworm, is a common intestinal parasite in chickens. These large, whitish worms can grow close to 3 inches in length.
The main signs of roundworm infection in chickens, as coccidiosis, are diarrhea and weight loss. In cases of severe infestation, masses of adult worms can cause a blockage of the intestine, which can be fatal if not treated. When large numbers of larvae or immature worms migrate through the lining of the gut, they cause severe inflammation.
Can it spread?
This roundworm has a direct life cycle, meaning that it’s contagious. When its eggs are passed through the feces, the eggs remain in the soil until ingested. Similar to Coccidia, these eggs are resistant to most environmental extremes and disinfectants. Ascaridiasis is also a problem in floor pens where parasite egg numbers build up in the soil over time.
Rotating the pen location and changing the topsoil yearly will reduce the risk of roundworm infection in your flock.
If your flock becomes infected with roundworm, monthly treatment with Piperazine in the drinking water will prevent severe infestations. Piperazine is available at most farm-supply stores.
About the Authors: Dr. Jose A. Linares, DVM, ACPV, is the Resident Director of the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, Poultry Diagnostic Laboratory in Gonzales, TX. Dr. John El-Attrache, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University.