I am new to hen keeping and was wondering how often I should worm my hens, and what is the best sort of bedding to use? Mark Daly by email
Jane Howorth says: Worming is a necessary aspect of caring for your hens, as they will be exposed to the eggs of these internal parasites as soon as they have access to the ground, and will in turn spread the eggs through their waste. I would recommend that you worm your hens twice a year, and use Flubenvet, which is the UK’s only licensed wormer for poultry and is available from vets as well as online. It is simple to administer – just add it to the feed for seven days.
For those looking to take a more holistic approach, Verm-X helps control intestinal hygiene and is available from many feed stores and pet supply shops. Using a combination of herbs, Verm-X is put in the feed on a much more regular basis.
The choice in bedding for hens is huge! Dust-extracted wood shavings are a popular choice, together with products such as chopped straw which contain anti-fungal additives to give the hens a softer bedding, and many products also now contain extracts such as pine and eucalyptus to help deter red mite and other parasites.
Whichever product you choose, I would carry out a daily clean during the week to remove any droppings, and change completely every seven days to ensure their bedding stays dry and fresh. If the bedding becomes damp, it can lead to moulds, which can cause respiratory infections, particularly in the winter when shorter days mean hens can spend between 12-15 hours in their house. At the end of the week, it all makes a welcome addition to the compost heap.
* Your Chickens’ vet, Victoria Roberts, adds: Stocking density is an issue when worming hens – if you keep chickens in a small space they may need worming every six weeks.