Janssen Animal Health

August 20, 2010 03:01 ET

'Herbal' Parasite Control of Questionable Value

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Aug. 20, 2010) - A recent study found no evidence that a leading herbal poultry wormer had any effect on worm burdens in chickens. In fact the results were the same as if no treatment had been given at all. A third group of birds were treated with a conventional wormer, which proved to be 99% effective.

Poultry keeping is increasingly popular yet some novice owners are not aware of the need to worm, or rely on herbal treatments that are perceived to be more 'natural'. By relying on ineffective worming treatments, poultry keepers are likely to build up problems as the birds' environment becomes increasingly contaminated, resulting in heavier worm burdens and ill birds.

Parasitic Worms in Chickens

It is relatively easy for chickens to pick up parasitic worms. Bought in birds may already have worms (and there may be no visible signs that they are infected) or wild birds and even earthworms can carry parasitic worms and pass them on to domestic poultry.

Parasitic worms inside the bird lay eggs that are passed out in the bird's droppings. The worm eggs are picked up from the ground, eaten and later hatch out into adults inside the bird. The more worms a chicken has, the more likely it is that they will become ill.

The Study

Before treatment the naturally infected chickens had hundreds of worm eggs in every gram of droppings. The results of worm egg counts per gram of droppings after treatment are shown in the table below:

Worm egg counts after treatments

Group Minimum Maximum Median*
A (Conventional treatment) 0.00 19.00 0.00
B (Herbal treatment) 108.00 1327.00 425.00
C (no treatment) 74.00 958.00 302.00
* The amount of worm eggs per gram of droppings most birds in the group have

The Regulations

The Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2009 state that any product making veterinary medicinal claims needs to be licensed. A licensed product has to show proven efficacy and safety for the animal species involved. Licensed veterinary medicines can be identified by their Vm number, which is shown on-pack. Products termed 'nutritional supplements' are not licensed and do not require the manufacturer to produce any proof of efficacy or safety. Poultry keepers are advised to seek advice about worming from a vet, pharmacist or Suitably Qualified Person (SQP).

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