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Ivermectin For Parasite Control

I will preface this article by saying although I am not a veterinarian, I have done some research and consulted trained veterinarians before writing this piece. Feel free to do your own research and if you choose to use Ivermectin you’ll find recommended dosage guidelines below.

I know there is a lot of confusion about using Ivermectin for chickens and that’s because it would be used off-label, meaning that, although it is effective when treating chickens it was not developed for them. There is no scientific data about how it might affect them differently than mammals, the best route of administration and withdrawal periods for eating eggs or meat.

I asked an Avian Veterinarian about correct dosages for chickens and when I mentioned 3 drops for a standard sized bird, was told that was too much. They could not give me the correct dosage because it would be used off label, but pointed me in the right direction to make the calculation myself. They also gave me some info about how it works.

What is Ivermectin?

Ivermectin (Noromectin) is a broad spectrum anti-parasitic used to eradicate internal and external parasites in livestock, typically cattle and pigs. It can be administered via injection, orally or topically, is available in different strengths (i.e. 1mg, 5mg or 10mg) and dosages.

Parasitic Worms IN Chickens

Piperazine, which is only used on roundworms, paralyses the worms so they are expelled live from the chicken. Ivermectin, which can be used for internal worms, lice and mites (including scaly leg mites) kills them inside the body. In the process of dying they go through a period of hyperactivity and mass together in a ball. The downside of this is that if you use a lot of Ivermectin there may be complications when they are expelled.

Gape worms can be coughed up and potentially aspirated and intestinal worms will have to be excreted en masse. Ivermectin works, but you must be careful about not overdosing your birds, which can create a mass die-off of worms. You’d think that would be our aim, but chickens often live with internal parasites with no issues. It’s when there is a heavy infestation that it becomes problematic.

gape worm
Gapeworms in Necropsy Photo

Dosage Calculations & Treatment

Ivermectin Pour On, which is applied topically on the skin, has a universal recommended dosage of 200 micrograms/kilo. There are 1000 micrograms in 1 milligram and 5000 micrograms in 1 millilitre of liquid. 5000 mcgm divided by 200 mcgm = .04ml. Therefore the dosage would be .04 ml/kilo. One drop from a standard eyedropper = .05. So if your bird weighs 2 kilos the dosage would be just less than 2 drops! Believe me, it’s not always easy to be accurate and not use too much.

From my calculations, many people are giving too much and at too high a strength.

The dosages are based on 5mg of Ivermectin/1 ml solution. If you are using 10mg/1 ml you would have to reduce the amount used from 1-2 drops to 1 drop maximum. It is important to use a medication the way it was intended to be given – so don’t apply Ivermectin injectable or oral, topically (on skin).

The easiest way to treat them is to go out to your coop at night wearing a head lamp. You can either treat birds while they are sleeping on the roost bars or gently lift them off. Spread the feathers on their neck or between their shoulder blades and apply the drops directly on their skin.

One person can treat a number of birds in a few minutes. I work systematically (sometimes writing down the names of the birds I’ve done or working from one side of the coop to the other) to make sure everyone is treated at the same time and no one got missed. Treat new birds entering your flock and outgoing birds before they go off to a new home.

It’s important to repeat with a second treatment in 7-10 days to make sure you have killed any larvae that have hatched subsequent to the first one.

I see lots of folks offering advice about the use of Ivermectin in chickens on Facebook groups. Since Ivermectin is off-label, and untested, on chickens there are no consistent guidelines on a withdrawal period for eating eggs or meat.

You might not know that Ivermectin is used orally in people to treat roundworms, scabies and lice and has been called the ‘wonder drug‘ for its ability to treat River Blindness and other debilitating diseases in developing countries. The amount that a chicken absorbs in 1-2 drops is very small and probably poses a minimal risk. I was advised that if used, you could choose to eat your own eggs or poultry, but should withdraw those for sale to the public. Again, there is no ‘safe’ period that has been studied, but most chicken wormers recommend a 7-14 day withdrawal.

I would suggest that you not use Ivermectin until birds are fully developed and not more than twice a year. It’s good practice to rotate medications so that parasites don’t develop a tolerance to them. If you just want to treat for roundworms (which are carried by wild birds and earthworms), then you can use Piperazine/Wazine.

roundworms
Roundworms Expelled In Chicken Poop

There are no drugs made for tapeworms in chickens. If you are treating that species you will need to find an off-label medication that is targeted toward them. Typically people opt for a product developed for cats. Speak to your vet about the most appropriate product to be used in chickens.

tapeworm
Tapeworms In Chicken Poop

I hope this is helpful.

Here are posts on different internal and external parasites: scaly leg mites, northern fowl & red mites, liceroundworms, gapeworm and tapeworms.

 

 

38 comments on “Ivermectin For Parasite Control

  1. Great research and a VERY good help to me THANX

    Liked by 1 person

  2. kittyxo101

    This was very helpful thank you so much. I have just purchased some for my flock. Seems a heap easier than the wormer I was using. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi just wondering if this ivermectin works to kill stick fast fleas as the attach themselves to the chicken

    Liked by 1 person

    • We don’t have stick tight fleas in this area, but Ivermectin is designed as a broad-spectrum insecticide aimed at killing both internal and external parasites, including those that suck blood. I can’t see why it wouldn’t work.

      Like

  4. Leonie Young

    What a fantastic article I have been reading lots of information on this but was not comfortable with any of them, The information was so inconsistent. Now I feel comfortable using ivermectin
    Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you so much for this article, I have purchased the Noromectin pour on as the above photo. I have Pekin Bantams so would 1 drop be enough given their smaller size?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for such a clear summary! I’m a bit math challenged here so want to confirm before wildly over medicating everyone. I have a range of sizes but most of my chickens are on he hefty side, with my biggest hens being ~4.5kg and some roosters nearing 5.4kg. Is 3-4 drops correct for these chunky chooks?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Carolyn bunn

    Is it best put in the drinking water or one drop on neck?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ivermectin is made for large livestock (i.e. cows, goats) so it’s easy to overdose small animals like chickens. Applying drops directly on the skin allows you to more accurately gauge how much easy bird was given.

      Like

  8. Excellent post. I appreciate the dosing calculations and the helpful hint about treating them while they roost at night! You should have seen me running my head off to catch 40 chickens the last time I wormed everyone. It was a sight! Not to mention needlessly stressful for the girls. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. If my chook already has the gapeworm, How fast does the ivermectin usually work? How long should we keep her isolated?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Have you confirmed she has gapeworm (i.e. done a swab, seen them)? The recommendation is to treat topically (2-3 drops applied to their skin) and then repeat in 10-14 days to kill any larvae that hatched subsequent to the first treatment. I would add her back to the flock shortly after the second treatment.

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  10. Lydia Bittner

    I’m thrilled to happen across this information, as just today I had a Isa Brown hen gasping for breath..I googled her symptoms and came up with gapeworm. Gave her 5 drops of Ivermectin…and within 3 hours she was her normal self!!! Eating and drinking, thank you for the valuable information!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. savingemm

    I have 9 silkies which I believe to have Northern Fowl Mites. So many people have told me to put 1 drop under each wing and 1 on the nape of the neck – Based on your article of dose w/ standard poultry, it appears that I would only give them 1 drop each. Is this assumption correct?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What strength of ivermect did you use? We have .08%.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The bottle I have doesn’t give a %, rather it says that it contains 5mg of Ivermectin per ml. Usually the strengths come in 5mg or 10mg. I believe 5mg is 1%.

      Like

    • Anonymous

      I also had Ivermectin .08%…we used it for our sheep. I was also trying to figure out how to how to calculate that strength with the information given here based on 5mg of Ivermectin per ml. But then I realized that the Ivermectin given as a .08% strength is for drench application which is given orally. The Ivermectin mentioned here which is labeled as 5mg/ml is a pour-on solutions…thus given topically. I went ahead and bought the pour-on topical solution to apply to my chickens.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I also ran into this confusion. I had .08% Ivermectin on hand for our sheep and I was tying my brain in knots trying to figure out how that correlated to the 5mg/ml solution mentioned in this article. But then I realized that my .08% Ivermectin was a DRENCH which means it is given orally and the 5mg/ml solution used here is a POUR ON, given topically. So I went ahead and bought the pour on 5mg/ml Ivermectin to give to my chickens topically.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you so much for your information. I have the topical/pour-on on 5 mg.
    I have 22 adults, 4-14 week olds and 6-6 week olds. Would you treat the 6 week olds? If so, how much?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never treated chicks – I would be concerned about overdosing them. If I did, 1 drop maximum. What are you treating for?

      Like

      • Roundworm, one coop/run has them. I saw in poop this evening. I have not seen it from that coop and run but all of my chickens free range together during the day. I did treat mama.
        I gave all of the adult chickens two drops between their wings.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Piperazine is also recommended for round worms (it comes in a powdered form that you mix with water).

        Like

  14. Phil Lundt

    The recommended dosage for the bottles of ivermectin (5 %) which I have seen is 500 mcg per kg not 200. Where does this number 200 come from? Is the recommended dosage for chicken lower than it is for cattle? I was about to use this medication using the label instructions as a guide but now I’m confused and afraid to use it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That dosage amount was given to me by an avian vet. The dosage for chickens is lower than large livestock.

      Like

      • Thank you for the distinction between the 500 mg for livestock and the 200 mg for chickens.
        Thank you for doing the math for me and for doing all the research it is so much appreciated

        Liked by 1 person

  15. PATRICIA HARRIS

    My chicks are 12 weeks old. Is one drop to much for them? Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

    I got a Polish Roo a few months ago and he had lice, I treated him with Revolution (kitten/puppy strength and he lived to tell the tale) – I could not find any information anywhere on an easy effective way to treat him. My horses – easy dose them with Ivermectin/Praziquantel type drug. Cat – Revolution Plus…

    I could find some evidence that Revolution (Selamectin) was effective for lice in poultry, but nothing on the sarolaner part of Revolution Plus. So I went with the Revolution (kitten/puppy strength), and he survived my ministration of this likely unapproved med!

    Now this morning I noted that he passed manure with roundworms in it (have heard of this occurring but never thought I would see it in my animals!), I guess I should have re-dosed him with the Revolution but I was afraid of killing the poor wee fella and his lice went bye-bye so I thought all was good.

    I did a ‘herd/flock’ fecal (took samples from 4 of the gals and combined to test) back in the summer (before the Roo arrived) and it came back clean. Now that I have seen the round worms I want to make sure that I am treating everyone properly, I am just going to go on the assumption that they are now all infected with parasites.

    My horse vet has bimectin do you have a dosage for that? I do know that Bimectin dosing with horses is very strict (Ivermectin you can dose horses at 10x reg dose with no ill effects – other than my colt getting a really glossy coat and growing a hand high, ooops!). Have you any data on Bimectin?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t used Bimectin but I took a look at their website. Their pour-on version contains the same amount (i.e. 5mg Ivermectin) as the product that I use, Noromectin. I think the important thing is how much Ivermectin is in a dosage, so that you don’t give too much or too little. Of course, Ivermectin is used off-label for chickens so their site didn’t say anything about poultry, but I assume Bimectin, Noromectin, Ivomec etc are similar products. When in doubt ask a vet, but because it’s not approved for use in chickens they might not give you that information.

      Like

  17. Well I got some liquid ivermectin (10mg/ml) and dosed at .02ml/kg of weight.

    It was given orally, and have to say giving chickens oral meds is very hard! Not sure how much actually got into the chickens and the rest on me!

    I wormed the horses also and that went really easy!

    Can ducks be give the same dose?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I use 2-3 drops of 5mg, so I’d suggest no more than 2 drops of 10mg. The easiest way to give Ivermectin is topically – just apply directly to the skin on the back of their neck or between their wings. Sorry I have no experience with ducks.

      Like

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