Dealing with internal parasites in your chickens is going to be a recurring problem, unless you are proactively fighting against worms and other pests. Deworming and other preventative measures make it easier to keep your chickens healthy, but how do you know which one to use? A popular brand known as Safeguard (or Safe-Guard) is trusted by many commercial and backyard chicken owners. Today, you will be introduced to the proper dosage amount and uses of Safeguard for chickens. Let’s get started.
Should I Deworm My Chickens Regularly?
When it comes to maintaining a healthy, lively, productive flock, deworming should be part of the routine. This is one of those things you never want to wait to do, because once you see the signs of parasites in your chickens, the situation is already dire. You deworm your chickens at least 2 times a year, usually in the fall, before wintertime, and during the first couple weeks of spring. If you have had issues with worms and internal parasites in the past, consider upping that to 4 times a year, one treatment for every season.
You can give your chickens a dewormer even if they do not have worms.
What Are The Symptoms of Worms in Chickens?
There are many kinds of intestinal parasites that can affect chickens, but roundworms, cecal worms, gapeworms, tapeworms, and capillary worms are among the worst. Symptoms for these parasites differ, though there are some similarities. If your chickens start showing signs of weight loss or gain, decrease egg production, diarrhea, and lack of appetite, there is a good chance they are infested with worms. Some worms can also cause labored breathing, inflammation, droopiness, and lethargy.
What is Safeguard?
Safeguard, otherwise known as Safe-Guard or Safe-Guard AquaSol for chickens, is the brand name of a medication known as fenbendazole. Approved by the FDA, fenbendazole is an oral suspension that is used as an antiparasitic that is administered via drinking water, according to Drugs.com. Each mL of Safeguard contains about 200 mg of fenbendazole.
Safeguard does not eliminate every kind of internal parasite. If you are unsure if Safeguard is right for your flock, consult an avian veterinarian for other options.
Can Safeguard Be Used on Chickens?
Yes, Safeguard can be used on chickens. There are different kinds of Safeguard products, some for other forms of livestock. However, Safe-Guard AquaSol is formulated specifically for chickens.
Is Safeguard Safe for Chickens?
Fenbendazole is made from benzimidazole anthelmintic, a medication that is designed to kill worms. There is plenty of proof that fenbendazole is effective in killing worms without causing any harm to your chickens. You can treat your chickens with Safeguard regularly without any concerns for their health.
The only time you should not give Safeguard to your chickens is when they are growing new feathers after molting. Also, do not give Safeguard to chickens that have been infected with certain kinds of capillary worms.
Now, a caveat for humans: Do not get Safe-Guard on your skin. You should use protective gloves when handling this product, as it may cause irritation. Do not get it in your eyes or ingest it. Consuming this product is not safe for people and may cause gastrointestinal distress.
What Does Safeguard Do?
When administered orally, Safeguard is absorbed in a chicken’s intestines then metabolized by their liver. Fenbendazole kills parasites in the gut by disrupting how the worms metabolize their food. Effectively, Safeguard starves the worms to death. When the worms can no longer eat, they detach from the body and come out in the chicken’s poop, along with any remnants of Safeguard.
In clinical trials with fenbendazole, it was found that the drug has an effective rate of over 90%. With four to five doses of Safeguard, it was found that parasites are eradicated 99.2-99.4% of the time. Most of the breeds used in these studies were either Rhode Island Reds or broiler chickens.
Research has stated the effectiveness is dependent on the dose. If you want Safeguard to work for your chickens, you must give it to them more than once.
How to Give Safeguard to Your Chickens
If you plan on giving Safeguard to your chickens, please read the directions on the bottle before doing anything else. On the bottle, you will see that you are instructed to administer Safeguard orally, via drinking water. You can also mix Safeguard into your chicken’s food. If you plan on going the latter route, you will need about 1 ounce of fenendazole dissolved into a cup of water for every 15-20 pounds of chicken feed.
Have a three day treatment? Dissolve 1.2 ounces of fenbendazole into 100 pounds of feed, every day for the next 3 days.
Officially, Safe-Guard AquaSol is to be administered according to the following formula:
1 mg/kg of body weight (0.454 mg/lb) for 5 consecutive days.
How to Calculate How Much Safeguard to Give Your Whole Flock
Generally, if you chickens are around 5-6 lbs on average, if you have a flock of around 6-10 chickens, this calculates to around 20-50 mg/kg a day.
Here is an example:
Let’s say you have 9 chickens at 6 pounds each. That is a total weight of 54 pounds. You then add that body weight to the formula.
You get around 0.25 ml of Safeguard for the entire flock. However, because Safeguard is so safe and effective, you can bump that number up then multiply it by how much drinking water your chickens consume. For instance, they may drink around 1/2 gallon a day.
If you have a 2.5 gallon waterer, you can add around 2.5 ml of Safeguard, and your chickens will be set for those 5 days. Using a 5 gallon waterer? Bump that up to 15-20 ml. That averages out to around 3-4 ml/gallon. Wait for 10 days before dosing your chickens a second time, for another 5 days.
This video explains how to use Safeguard, including some tips for dosage:
How to Prepare Safeguard For Your Flock
If you are using Safe-Guard AquaSol, then you are going to need to prepare the medicated water daily. The directions are as follows:
- Calculate how much Safeguard you will need to administer daily.
- Shake your Safeguard before using it.
- Measure at least double the calculated daily volume of Safeguard. If you have a digital measuring device, you will want to use it for convenience.
- Pour the volume of water that is equal to the amount of the Safeguard you measured out. This will give you a 1:1 dilution.
- Fill your measuring device with water and the calculated amount of Safeguard.
- Add this 1:1 dilution to the watering system. Be careful of spilling any of the 1:1 dilution, because that may result in too weak a dose of Safeguard.
You can also give Safeguard to a single chicken via a syringe.
Is There an Egg Withdrawal Period After Using Safeguard?
Some medications will show up in eggs, but that is not the case with Safeguard. There is no egg withdrawal period required, since the product is excreted solely through waste. You do not have to worry about tossing away any eggs laid after giving Safeguard to your flock.
That said, you may wish to avoid the eggs for about 5 days, just to be safe instead of sorry.
Final Thoughts of Safeguard For Chickens
If your chickens have worms, then you should consider Safeguard as a solution. Also known as fenbendazole, Safeguard is as the name suggests: It’s safe and effective. Simply add 1 mg/kg of body weight to water and give it to your chickens for 5 days, with 10 days off and another round for 5 days after. By that time, the worms should be gone and your chickens happy and healthy!
Valerie has been content writing since 2016 for websites and companies all around the world. A traveler, dancer, martial artist, Valerie loves gathering experiences and wisdom. Her travels have taken her to over 20 countries, and she hopes to see more of the world soon.