There are several different types of intestinal parasites which can infect chickens:
- Cecal worms: Cecal worms (Heterakis gallinarum) serve as a main vector for the protozoan parasite, Histomonas meleagridis, known to cause blackhead disease.
- Coccidi (Eimeria spp) are protozoan organisms known for causing Coccidiosis in chickens.
- Tapeworms: Tapeworms are flat intestinal worms that are made up of several small segments. They attach themselves to the bird's small intestine using their hook-like mouthparts.
- Roundworms : Roundworms, also known as nematodes, are parasitic worms that can grow to be quite large (up to 7 inches long). They live freely in the bird's intestine, feeding off of partially digested intestinal contents.
- Capillaria: Capillaria are often referred to as hairworms or threadworms. These are a very thin type of nematode.
Complications from intestinal parasites
Without treatment, intestinal parasites can cause damage to the chicken's intestines and reduce their ability to absorb the nutrients from food. High loads can lead to intussusception
and intestinal volvulus
, which is fatal without prompt veterinary care. Intestinal parasite infections also lead to reduced immunity, increasing the birds risk of secondary infections.