WORMS & PARASITES: ~ There are many that infect pigeons. The most important and most commonly encountered internal parasites are roundworm, hairworm, tapeworm, and external parasites, lice and mites.
Worms are primary and serious parasites which must be completely eradicated. Failure to do so seriously compromises the bird’s optimal health required for peak performance and increases its vulnerability to secondary diseases. There are three common intestinal worms – roundworm, hairworm and tapeworm.
TREATMENTS: 3 in 1 Soluble, Harka-mectin
Roundworm and Hairworm live in the digestive tract and release eggs, passed with the bird’s droppings. These eggs, if accidentally ingested, become infectious after several days and hatch, growing into new worms.
There is no easy way to tell whether your birds in the loft have these parasites, as the adult worms are only rarely passed in droppings and Hairworms are virtually invisible.
These live in the small intestine of pigeons, depriving the bird of nutritive substances. This leads to loss of condition, dull plumage increased appetite and higher water intake. Female worms lay millions of eggs which are passed out in the droppings to develop on the ground (or loft floor) into an infective form after 6-8 days, or longer if the temperature is low. If the eggs are then picked up by a pigeon, they will develop in approximately 20 days to the adult, egg-laying, stage.
These cause more trouble than roundworms because hairworms invade the intestinal wall, where they attach. Severe intestinal inflammation results, prducing clinical signs of rapid weight loss and the passing of loose droppings which may contain blood. The life cycle of hairworms is similar to that of roundworms except that it usually takes longer for the eggs to become infective.
Also live in the pigeon’s digestive tract. They have a head which embeds deeply into the lining of the pigeon’s bowel. Behind this head are segments, effectively packets of eggs, which continue to form a long chain until the more mature ones eventually snap off and pass from the pigeon’s cloaca.
The small ones look like white pieces of cotton trailing through the dropping, larger ones look like pieces of rice stuck to the surface of the droppings. These soon become part of the food chain, continuing the infestation cycle if left untreated.
TREATMENTS: Please consult your vet for treatment
Prevention and Treatment of Worms
Prevention is better than cure. Loft surfaces should be cleaned daily, particularly in damp areas and loft disinfectants sprinkled or brushed on to them regularly. To prevent worms from affecting birds’ performance, at least three routine treatments per year are required using Harkaverm Liquid or a Harkers combination treatment . This will keep infection at an acceptable level as well as allowing birds to develop some immunity to worms. If a severe infection is suspected, birds should be treated immediately and a follow-up treatment three weeks later will kill worms that have been picked up as infective larvae since the first treatment.