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How to ‘Worm’ a Duck

How to Worm a Duck

Deworming (also called “worming”) ducks is not a topic that’s frequently discussed but an important component of poultry keeping. In this article, we will discuss every aspect of deworming ducks, from routines to signs of parasites, to options available and more.

Can Ducks Be Dewormed? 

Ducks can be dewormed. It’s not something often discussed, but all duck keepers should know about the practice and when and how it should be administered. 

Used to the practice was to deworm ducks once or twice a year routinely and then more as needed. 

Now, we have a better grasp of drug and antibiotic resistance and understand that ducks (and all other livestock) should only be given dewormer when they show signs of detrimental levels of worms or fecal tests show a worrisome population of worms in the ducks. 

How Do I Know If My Duck Has Parasites?

Testing for Parasitic Worms in Ducks

You can perform fecal diagnostic tests to see if worms are an issue for your flock.

Parasitological exams are simple and don’t take much time to prep.

The best way to have this testing process started is by contacting your favorite veterinarian. They will get you in contact with a lab or refer you to someone who can perform the testing for you. 

When you collect duck droppings for testing, you should collect the samples from a close contact area, like the coop or a small run.

If you choose to pick up from a larger space, like a free range yard, only use partial droppings, and a lot of them. Ideally, you’ll send about a half of a cup.

If you have more than a half cup, mix the sample well, then reduce the amount. 

Pack in a sealed container that cannot leak or easily break open. 

Send in a sheet of information with the sample that entails the type of bird. If you only have ducks, indicate that. If your yard also contains turkeys, chickens, swans, geese, quail, pheasant, grouse, or other birds, note that.

You should also share the population of the flock, any symptoms you’re noticing, and why you’re sending the sample in; monitoring for parasites is a valid reason. 

It’s best to do samples in spring or fall, with winter as the next best season. If the sample gets too warm, bacteria will grow and the testing won’t be possible. 

When the fecal matter is examined, it will be inspected for oocysts (eggs) and other indicators of parasites.

The Signs of A Wormy Duck

Underweight, Quick Weightloss 

Some parasites steal nutrients from the host (duck), causing malnourishment and discomfort.  Ducks that have been infected by parasites may stop eating as much because they don’t feel well.

As a result, they will begin losing weight at an alarming rate, which could eventually lead to death if left untreated for too long.

Pay close attention to your duck’s weight and diet, especially if you notice any signs of feather loss, discoloration, or changes in personality. 

Lethargic, “Dull,” or Tired

Being sick and not getting enough water or nutrients is exhausting. Birds will act weak, limp, dull, or tired if they are badly affected. 

Skin Lesions

Another common sign that your duck has been infected by parasites is skin lesions or scabs on its body. 

These lesions are usually caused by parasitic mites burrowing into the duck’s skin and causing irritation and inflammation, which leads to scabbing and infection.

If you notice any kind of lesion on your duck, it’s important to take it for medical treatment as soon as possible in order to prevent further complications from arising due to the infection.  

White Patches on Feathers, Feather Discoloration or Loss

One of the most common tell tales of parasites in ducks is feather loss and discoloration. 

When ducks are infected with parasites, especially lice or mites, they may start to lose feathers around their head, neck, and wings. The feathers will often be discolored or have small white spots on them. The feather loss may become more severe over time as the parasite continues to feed on the duck’s blood supply. 

Bloody Vents or Bloody Feces

If the opening where ducks excrete waste looks red, swollen, bloody, or coated in discharge, your duck may have a problematic number of parasites. 

Coughing Excessively

Excessive coughing is a strong indicator your duck has gapeworms in the windpipe. They will cough in an attempt to clear the airway and breathe again. Not only are these worms downright uncomfortable, but they can also suffocate birds to death. 

Fewer Eggs Produced

A drop in egg production indicates stress, malnourishment, or discomfort. Parasitic worms usually cause all three, which is why egg production can drop off drastically when your flock is seriously affected. 

A Noisy Duck Is Suddenly Quiet

Parasites are physically and emotionally draining for animals. If they aren’t feeling well, they won’t act themselves. Your presence, treats, and attention will not captivate their attention like it did before, and they may act much quieter as they are uncomfortable. 

Can You Worm Ducks With Ivermectin?

Yes, you can deworm your ducks using ivermectin. Ivermectin is effective against cecal worms, roundworms, gapeworms, threadworms, and eyeworm. 

Please note that dosages greater than five milligrams (5 MG) is toxic to ducks and other poultry. Always double check dosage prior to administering. Do not consume, give away, or sell the eggs of the ducks within the first seven days after treatment. 

Do I Need to Deworm My Ducklings?

While it is possible to deworm ducklings, it is not recommended as a preventative measure. You should only deworm ducklings if they show signs of parasites and are in true need of medication. Too much deworming causes resistance in the parasites, which leads to big problems over time.

how to worm a duck tapeworm image

What Kind of Worms Do Ducks Get?

If you’re interested in diving into further detail regarding common duck parasites, check out Common Parasites in Ducks. If you want a brief overview, read on below. 

Roundworm (Nematodes)

Roundworms are common parasites that affect ducks of all ages. These worms are usually found in the intestines, feeding on the food that passes through. In some cases, nematodes cause blockages in the intestines, which can be fatal if it progresses and is left untreated. 

Symptoms of roundworm in ducks include poor growth rates and weight loss, as well as droppings that appear watery or slimy due (more watery and slimy compared to a healthy duck) to increased mucous production. 

Gapeworm (Syngamus trachea)

These nasty worms live in ducks and other poultry’s windpipe (trachea), especially pheasants. They cause a gurgling or rattling sound that resembles a human with pneumonia’s sound in the lungs. 

If there is a significant population of gapeworms, they can suffocate birds to death. 

The most susceptible age group is ducks that are eight weeks old or younger. 

The best way to prevent these worms is rotational grazing, deworming as needed, and avoiding places where wild pheasants roam. 

Gizzard Worm (Amidostomum Anseris)

Your flock is more likely to come in contact with gizzard worms when geese are present. They usually affect young geese the most, but can also harm ducks.

Keep your ducks away from geese when possible, rotate pastures, and deworm them as needed. 

Tapeworm (Cestodes)

Tapeworms also target ducks of all ages. These worms attach themselves to the walls of a duck’s gastrointestinal tract and feed on its nutrients and blood supply. Tapeworms typically cause quick weight loss and decreased egg production, as well as either diarrhea or constipation depending on the species of worm present.

Treatment typically requires anthelmintic medications. Flubenvet is the preferred off-label vermifuge for ducks. 

Caecal Worm (Heterakis Gallinarum)

This is the least problematic parasitic worm on this list for ducks. 

Cecal worms are present in chickens and turkeys. They cause blackhead, which is fatal to turkeys but mostly harmless for ducks. They show no signs or symptoms and do not seem to cause any problems for ducks. They can be killed off when the duck is treated with Flubenvet.  


Coccidia are microscopic organisms known for causing severe diarrhea in young ducks and other poultry birds. 

Symptoms include diarrhea, dehydration, weakness, lack of appetite, bloody stools, weight loss, lethargy, and discolored droppings due to bile staining (this is caused when coccidia damages the intestinal lining). 

In extreme cases, supportive care such as fluids may also be necessary for recovery from severe dehydration caused by coccidiosis. 

When to ‘Worm’ a Duck

You should deworm ducks when the worm load becomes problematic. All creatures have some level of parasites, and under a certain threshold, these worms are not an issue and should not be medicated. 

Deworming animals too frequently as prevention will cause immunity for the parasites, so the medication will lose its potency and the parasites can get out of hand (and deadly with no way to correct them). 

If your ducks are showing signs of distress or their fecal tests show that they should be dewormed, only then should you deworm the flock. 

How to Deworm Ducks with Medication


Verm-X is a liquid organic dewormer that is made up of cinnamon, garlic, fennel, slippery elm, elecampane, thyme, peppermint, cleavers, and quassia. It is safe to consume the eggs of the treated ducks, as the ingredients are naturally occurring and safe for human (and other animals) consumption. 

Give 1.5 ml per bird. You can do this by soaking bread with it or adding it to the water source. 


Flubenvet is not labeled for use in ducks, chickens, geese, or turkeys, but it is commonly used as “off-label” or “extra-label”. 

Feed Flubenvet dry, as it is a medicated feed. A sixty-gram tub will mix with 20 kg of feed, treating a flock of 20 chickens or ducks. 

Do not slughter ducks within seven days of administration. There is not a waiting period on eggs, and it is safe to consume eggs after they have been treated with Flubenvet. 


Ivermectin works against cecal worms, roundworms, gapeworm, threadworms, and eyeworm. It does not affect tapeworms. 

Give one drop of pour-on Ivermectin directly on the duck’s skin one time a week for three consecutive weeks.

How to Naturally Deworm Ducks

If you worry about using harsh chemicals, you may want to consider a more herbal route. Here are some options for you and your flock. 

Natural and Healthy Coop Keeping Practices

The best natural prevention is to practice regular maintenance and cleanliness measures to protect your flock. 

  • Keep the Coop Clean
  • Practice Good Sanitation, clean the coop and run regularly or appropriately implement the deep litter method
  • Feed the Ducks Healthy Foods
  • Watch the Ducks Every Day
  • Prevent Interactions with Wild Birds 


Probiotics are live micro-organisms that can help restore balance in the gut microbiome and boost overall immunity in ducks and other poultry species. 

When choosing a probiotic supplement, look for one that specifically notes it has been tested on birds – this will ensure better efficacy when used on your ducks. Probiotics can be given orally or topically via spraying onto feathers and skin. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can You Worm Ducks With Ivermectin?

Yes, you can deworm your ducks using ivermectin. Ivermectin is effective against cecal worms, roundworms, gapeworm, threadworms, and eyeworm. 

Please note that dosages greater than five milligrams (5 MG) is toxic to ducks and other poultry. Always double check dosage prior to administering. Do not consume, give away, or sell the eggs of the ducks within the first seven days after treatment. 

Do They Make Dewormers for Ducks?

Yes, commercial dewormers on the market are specifically designed for ducks. Flubenvet is the most common brand, followed by Ivermectin, and then Verm-X. 

We discuss brands, applications, and special practices above, in the “How to Deworm Ducks with Medication” section below. 

What Are Natural Duck Dewormers? 

Raw pumpkin seeds, pine needles, garlic, nasturtium, grated carrots, hyssop, rue, elder leaves, cucumbers, and wormwood are all believed to be natural dewormers for ducks.  Verm-X is a natural dewormer that you can buy in most feed stores or wherever you buy your duck feed.  

Can Chickens Give Ducks Parasitic Worms?

Yes, chickens can give ducks parasitic worms. 

Ducks and chickens are often kept together in farm settings and therefore the risk of disease transmission is much increased. Worms and other parasites spread quickly in this environment, and if one bird has them, it’s likely that another will catch them too. Not all parasites and internal worms will infect both ducks and chickens, but many can. 

It’s important to deworm all birds on the property as needed to ensure their health is maintained and stop the spread of diseases. Regular veterinary checkups, good biosecurity protocols, and a balanced diet also help keep all birds healthy and free from unwanted parasites.

Should Ducks Be Routinely Wormed?

Ducks should not be dewormed on a schedule, as it increases the chances of the parasitic worms developing immunity against the deworming medication. You should only deworm ducks if they should signs of distress due to the worms, or a fecal test shows alarming results and a dangerously high population of worms in the ducks. 

Can You Butcher Ducks After Deworming Them?

Several duck dewormers have a seven-day withdrawal period to ensure the safety of your food, and you. Always read the instructions on the label for utmost safety. When in doubt, wait a week to be extra-safe. 

Can You Eat Eggs From Ducks After Deworming Them?

Some dewormers are safe for you to consume eggs right after treating the ducks; others require a week long withdrawal period. 

The best practice here is to wait a week, and not use, sell, nor give away eggs for this brief amount of time. 

If the package says it’s okay to consume eggs, either find other uses for them on the homestead or eat them at your own risk. 

How to Worm a Duck: Final Thoughts

If you own ducks you must know how to identify any signs that indicate it may be suffering from parasites. 

Pay close attention for any changes in behavior such as feather loss or discoloration, sudden weight loss, and skin lesions which can all be indicative of an underlying parasitic infection.

If you suspect your duck might be ill due to parasites or some other issue, deworm immediately; consider having a fecal test completed, and take precautionary steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again. 

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