WORMING & PARASITES
'There are many medications on the market to worm birds, but the one
I recommend is Moxidectin. It provides good clearance of roundworms
and hairworms, is very safe and easy to administer, and has the handy
side effect of killing any external parasites that feed off body
fluids. This includes all mites. The dose of Moxidectin 2 mg/ml for
the flock is 5 ml to 1 litre of water for 24 hours. This dose is
based on normal water consumption. If for one reason or another
birds' water intake on that day is low, the drug is safe enough to
provide for a second or a third day to ensure that all birds receive
an adequate amount. If some birds receive a double or triple dose,
this will do them no harm. It is important that the water containing
the Moxidectin is mixed freshly each day,
However, and that, of course, no other water sources are available.
Moxidectin can also be given to individual birds at the dose of Â½ ml
per kg as a single dose orally. Tapeworms have a more involved life
cycle. The adults, which live in the bowel, pass packets of eggs in
the droppings that need to be eaten by an insect to become infective.
Chickens can only become infected by eating insects carrying the
tapeworm larvae. It is often possible to tell if a chicken is
infected by tapeworms simply by looking at the droppings
Active ingredients Moxidectin, praziquantel
Guaranteed analysis Moxidectin 2 mg/ml, praziquantel 18.8 mg/ml
Available sizes 125 ml
Flock treatment – Dilute at the rate of 5 ml to 1 litre of drinking
water and make available to the birds for 24 hours. The solution
should be made fresh prior to use and provided in a clean drinking
vessel. Remove all other sources of water
Individual bird treatment – 0.25 ml per 400 g (pigeon) body weight
Moxidectin Plus is a fully water-soluble palatable syrup. Added to
the drinking water for 24/48 hours, it clears roundworm (Ascaridia
spp.), hairworm (Capillaria spp.) and tapeworm (cestode) infection.
It is also effective against all external parasites that feed off
body fluids, including mites and pigeon flies (Pseudolynchia spp.).
Moxidectin Plus also eliminates airsac mites (Sternostoma spp.,
Cytodites spp.). It has a wide safety margin and is safe to use
during racing and breeding. It does not affect feather quality and is
safe to use during moulting. Moxidectin Plus does not cause nausea
and so the birds can be fed and loft-flown normally during treatment
Not to be used in birds producing meat or eggs for human consumption
Withholding period – 5 days
Store below 30C (room temperature) in a dry place
Worms and mites: Give Moxidectin 5 ml/litre for 24 hours or if
tapeworms are a concern, Moxidectin Plus 5 ml/litre or better still
because the product is bitter, ¼ ml (approx. 5 drops) to each bird.
Ensure the loft is particularly thoroughly cleaned after treatment as
droppings passed prior to treatment can reinfect the birds.
Lice: Lice do not feed off blood (like mites) and so the Moxidectin
is not 100% effective when given orally. To eradicate lice, a dip
can be prepared using Permethrin. To prepare a dip is simple. Add
120 ml of Permethrin + 1 cap of baby shampoo to a bucket of water.
Alternatively, Moxidectin can be added to the bathwater at 1/10 its
oral dose, i.e. 1 ml/2 litres. This works really well and makes
getting rid of lice really easy.
Moxidectin will kill all mites on the birds and most lice.
To eliminate all lice completely, the birds are dipped in Permethrin
This is a good idea anyway as it has a 4-month residual effect and
provides good-long term protection against the insects causing
problems during breeding.
It is also a good idea to spray out the nest boxes with Permethrin
Mosquitoes carry pigeon pox, pigeon flies cause irritation, anaemia
and are associated with wet nests, mites breed in the warm conditions
of the nest box and all other insects, particularly slaters, carry
Therefore, before pairing I always spray with Permethrin.
Reference: Dr. Colin Walker
"a single moxidectin treatment produces `slow' death of adult worms
in girds and dogs, and sterilization of worms in cattle;
compared to ivermectin, moxidectin has a considerably longer half
life in plasma - 20 days compared to 2 days - allowing for the
possibility of either less frequent treatment, or `higher efficacy'
with similar frequency of treatment, compared to ivermectin;
it is effective in animal worm infections that are resistant to
Moxidectin is a fermentation product from Streptomyces cyaneogriseus
spp noncyanogenus. Chemically it is related to other wormers – the
avermectins – but instead of a disaccharide side chain it has unique
methoxine- and dimethylbutenyl- side chains."
They are basically related chemicals from Streptomyces bacteria, but
some studies reckon moxidectin is safer than ivermectin, and the one
above reckons moxidectin remains active in the body 10 times longer
than ivermectin, 20 days -vs- 2 days and that kinda raises questions
on the claim that one dose of ivermectin keeps a pigeon pest-free for
Searches made by Raymond Julien,
The importance of external parasites of pigeons is often overlooked by pigeon fanciers. By ignoring the importance of these parasites the pigeon fancier runs the risk of disease and poor performance in his pigeon loft. The treatment of these parasites is often controversial with many myths, lies and misunderstandings being promoted by unscrupulous vendors or poorly informed fanciers.
This article is intended to give the pigeon fancier the true facts about external parasites in pigeons and to announce an extremely exciting new development in the treatment of external parasites of pigeons.
The importance of external parasites of pigeons:
External parasites are grouped into three main groups namely Lice, Mites and Flies.
Pigeon lice live their whole life on the pigeon. They do not suck blood but live of the bloom and feather debris. Once they are established in the loft they will multiply rapidly and one pair can produce over 100 000 progeny per month. These organisms are not known to carry any diseases, however they lay their eggs on the quills of the pigeons' feathers. They may also cause mild irritation as well as excessive preening that may cause feather damage. They are a sure sign of bad husbandry in a pigeon loft.
• Red Mites (Dermanyssus gallinae): live in the cracks and crevices in the pigeon loft. They only move on to pigeons during the evening to suck blood. These mites can not be detected during routine inspection during the day. To identify these mites, balls of cotton wool must be placed into nesting bowls and onto perches in the dark, collected in the morning and then inspected for the typical small red mites hide inside the cotton balls. Red mites cause skin irritation, scaliness and anaemia. Heavy infestations may even cause the death of squabs. Blood sucking lice may also transmit pigeon pox as they will feed on more than one pigeon.
• Feather Mites: also suck blood but stay on the birds' feathers and are seen as black crawling dots after taking a blood meal.
• Depluming Mites: penetrate the base of the feather shaft causing severe irritation and causing birds to pull or break off feathers.
• Quill Mites: enter the shaft of the feathers and cause a fine brown discharge as they suck blood. These mites cause a weakening of the feather structure with breakages of young feathers.
• Nasal Mites: found in the nasal cavities and cause severe irritation within the sinuses. Constant sneezing, nasal discharge and rubbing of the beak are observed.
• Scaly Leg Mites: live under the skin and scales of toes, feet and legs of pigeons causing scaly accumulations and roughening of the skin.
The Pigeon Fly is commonly referred to as the jockey of racing pigeons. These flies look almost like ticks with wings attached and live most of their lives on the pigeon. They have specially designed hooks on their feet that help them to move rapidly over and under the pigeons' feathers. These pigeon flies are blood sucking parasites and will often fly from one pigeon to the next taking blood meals as they go. They lay 4-5 larvae in any organic material. It is claimed that they inject a toxin that causes mild diarrhoea in babies to enable them to lay their larvae around nesting boxes.
Pigeon flies are the major transmitters of pigeon malaria (Haemaproteus). The extremely negative effect that pigeon Malaria has on the racing performance of pigeons is well known. The constant blood sucking by the Pigeon Fly will also cause anaemia and will further reduce racing performance. They also cause severe irritation in pigeons with feet stomping and constant over preening. This constant irritation will sap the energy levels of pigeons and further reduce racing performance. It has also been shown that they may carry pigeon lice from one pigeon to another. The transmission of Pigeon Pox from one pigeon to another is also possible. From the above it can be seen that the Pigeon Fly is of major concern and every effort should be made to eradicate these parasites from the pigeon loft.
The importance of external parasites of pigeons
When treating external parasites it is important to take the life cycle and feeding habits of these parasites into account. It is also extremely important to use the correct products that have been tested and developed specifically for pigeons. All of the products used for eradicating these parasites are toxic. If the incorrect product is used, or if the wrong dosage is used, pigeons will be poisoned and will often even die. The use of products registered for cattle, sheep and dogs should be avoided at all cost. These products often contain organic phosphates or chlorinated hydrocarbons which are extremely toxic to pigeons. The Pyrethroid containing products are the safest for pigeons and have the broadest spectrum of efficacy against all the external parasites of pigeons. However, the Pyrethroids made for cattle and sheep should be avoided as the carriers and the strengths of these products are developed for cattle and sheep and not for pigeons.
The Ivermectin type products have the distinct disadvantage that they are only effective against the smaller type of blood sucking external parasites of pigeons. Ivermectin has no effect on pigeon lice, Tapeworm or Roundworm and the efficacy against Pigeon Fly is highly suspect. It is often claimed that these Ivermectin containing drops will kill the internal and external parasites of pigeons. This is a gross overstatement of the efficacy of these products. The concentration that is absorbed via the skin of the pigeons has not been proven and thus the efficacy against other internal parasites of pigeons still needs to be scientifically proven.
The use of dips, powders and sprays has been the traditional method of treating pigeons for external parasites. When using these products it is imperative that the lofts also be sprayed as some of the parasites live off pigeons. Special attention should be given to any cracks and crevices in the loft and the area around nesting boxes should also be well treated. It is important to clean the lofts daily and to remove all faecal material especially around the nesting bowls. Pigeon flies will often fly to nearby compost heaps or areas where there is an accumulation of organic material and lay their larvae in these areas. Such areas should also be sprayed and cleaned.
Avian Insect Liquidator is the ideal product to use for spraying the lofts and surrounding area. This product contains one of the newer and safest Pyrethrins, and is highly effective in killing the adult stages of external parasites. It is very safe to use and may even be sprayed on babies, as well as in and around nesting bowls.
Avian Insect Liquidator may also be used very effectively to spray or dip pigeons. The pigeon should be thoroughly wet after spraying.
The use of other sprays, dips and powders not specifically made for pigeons is strongly discouraged. Carbaryl containing powders are not very effective, and especially the Pigeon Fly is not eradicated when treated with powders.
A new breakthrough Spot-on formulation
The use of dips and sprays in dogs and cattle has for the past few years been almost completely replaced with the newer spot-on formulations. These spot-on formulations are much easier to use and are also more effective as they spread evenly across the hair by way of unique formulations. Currently there is no such Pyrethrin spot-on formulation available for pigeons. After extensive research such a formulation is at last available from Medpet. This product called EKTOMED was specifically researched, developed and tested for pigeons. It contains one of the newest, safest and most effective Pyrethrins called Flumethrin. It was imperative for us at Medpet that this product be proven to be effective against Pigeon Fly as well as mites and lice.
Provisional laboratory tests confirmed the safety of this product. Even at 10 x the recommended dose no serious toxic effects could be seen. This increased dose was repeated after 4 weeks and still no toxic effects were seen. Even more amazing was the fact that the pigeons treated at 10 x the dose had no abnormal blood tests, proving that the pigeon livers and kidneys were unaffected even at this high dose. The only mild side effect seen was a transient diarrhoea and irritation at the sight of application that passed in 24 hours.
Provisional laboratory tests also confirmed the incredible efficacy of EKTOMED against external parasites. Especially encouraging was that the product was highly effective in killing the dreaded Pigeon Fly. The pigeon flies would still move around on the pigeon but within a few hours of application they would become sluggish and later would drop off. Within 24 hours all the pigeon flies had died. Field trials done on two lofts where there was a particularly high infestation of pigeon flies were very effective with the total disappearance of these flies within 48 hours of treating.
To effectively and safely treat all external parasites of pigeons will now be as simple as parting the feathers at the back of the neck and applying three drops of EKTOMED with the easy to use dropper bottle.
By Dr. O.J. Botha (BVSc)