Keep a healthy flock by learning how to beat coccidiosis. Coccidiosis in chicken, other poultry, and livestock is extremely deadly. By establishing a strong natural preventative plan, solid bio-security measures, and knowing what to offer as a coccidiosis treatment can save the lives of your flock.
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What is Coccidiosis
Coccidiosis is a single cell microscopic parasite. It enters the chicken’s body when a bird ingests the Coccidia egg. This egg is usually found on the ground or the floor of the coop. The Coccidia parasite begins to colonize and multiply within the lining of the gut. Over time the parasite is shed through the feces of the chicken, and the vicious cycle will continue until bird is treated or dead.
At this point, a new host (or hosts) can become infected when it accidentally consumes waste which contains the Coccidia parasite. This is the point in which the disease spreads like wildfire. One infected bird can quickly infect 3 more. Those three then infect 6 birds, and the cycle continues. An entire flock can easily become infected within 24 hours.
The Coccidia parasite thrives in wet, warm conditions, making the coastal part of the Pacific Northwest a petri dish for the breeding parasite. Learn how to boost the flock’s immune system and establish strong bio-security measures below. Remember, infected poultry is capable of fighting the disease with a strong coccidiosis treatment, in which a natural or chemical protocol can be used.
Because the parasite can also be introduced to poultry through wild birds there is no guaranteed method available to prevent your flock from contracting it. However, there are best practices available in order to keep a healthy flock.
Let me preface this with, we have experience a case of Coccidiosis on the property. Having a hen contract coccidiosis was an ultimate surprise, especially since we kept a healthy flock. Coccidiosis in chicken was new to us, and we knew nothing about the disease until it hit one of our hens.
It all began fifteen days after moving onto the property. A hen began displaying the telltale signs of being ill. Her rear end and tail feathers were dropped and her head was sunk into her body and her feathers were poofed in order to maintain warmth. Also, her comb and waddles were shrunk and very pale in color, and she looked depressed and lost. As a matter of fact, she was found standing in the corner of the coop displaying all of the signs mentioned above.
But the most important symptom of them all was her waste. The feces was runny, yellowy and slightly bubbly with a small amount of blood in it.
The course of treatment began immediately, though we were unsure as to when the hen initially became infected. Because we naturally boost the immune system of the chickens and other livestock on the property I truly believe this contributed to her speedy recovery.
Keep a Healthy Flock Naturally
How to keep a healthy flock begins the moment chicks have hatched or brought onto the property. Good animal husbandry means offering the best preventative care for chickens and other livestock. However, even the best preventative care is ineffective against many deadly diseases. For example, when coccidiosis in chicken occurs.
Learning how to identify signs of a sick chicken is necessary for poultry keepers worldwide. Chicken and other poultry are excellent at masking illness. And more than likely, once the signs are identifiable the bird has already taken a turn for the worse.
Naturally preventing coccidiosis is achievable, making the ability to naturally treat coccidiosis also achievable. The Homesteader’s Natural Chicken Keeping Handbook is an excellent and well written book. The information within it will not only guide you to caring for the health of your chicken flock, it provides everything necessary in order to raise chickens naturally.
Coccidiosis in Chickens | Bio-Security Measures
The key on how to beat coccidiosis, and keep a healthy flock, is achieved by maintaining good animal husbandry. A coccidiosis treatment first begins by implementing strong bio-security measures.
Feed and Waterers
- The path to feed bowls and waterers are high traffic routes, which mean a lot of waste build up en-route to eating and drinking. Move feed and water bowls daily to minimize the build-up of waste. Keep feed and waterers away from roosting areas to prevent waste getting into the containers.
- Clean water containers and feed bowls regularly, taking care to remove all fecal dropping immediately.
- Expose chicks to various strains of Coccidia by leaving slightly soiled bedding in a chick brooder longer. Move waterer and feed bowl regularly, however, clean bedding week verses daily. Take note to remove severely soiled areas.
Brooders, Coops, and Runs
- Ensure the brooder, coop, and run are of adequate sized for the amount of chickens being kept. Over populated spaces creates a higher risk of the parasite being active.
- Remove wet or soiled bedding daily.
- Rotate the run annually, or as often as possible. Allow the soil to rest for one year prior to reintroducing the flock to it.
- Minimize visitors into the chicken area. Request visitors to wear ‘property specific’ footwear or disposable foot covers.
- Inspect your chicken’s waste regularly. A white drop pan under the roost will allow the waste to be monitored on a regular basis. Keep a waste reference chart handy for reviewing questionable droppings.
- Wild birds are also carriers of the Coccidia parasite. Ensure no wild birds have entry to the run or coop. Covering the run creates a barrier for potential fecal droppings from entering the run.
- Allowing the flock to free ranging is the most beneficial method for naturally preventing coccidiosis. The waste is distribute in various locations verses building up within the confides of a run.
- Establish a 30 day quarantine period for all new flock members. This allows for any illness or disease to make themselves present.
Naturally Preventing Coccidiosis | How to Beat Coccidiosis
How to beat Coccidiosis begins with a good preventative care action plan. A strong immune system will help combat illnesses and diseases such as this one. Begin by offering a natural regiment of herbs, probiotics and a balanced feed option the moment your chicken flock is brought onto the property.
- Offer non-vaccinated chicks medicated feed which contains Amprolium, a thiamin blocker. The Coccidia parasite needs thiamin to multiply in the gut of a bird. Please note, Amprolium is not an antibiotic.
- Build the gut by providing fermented items such as raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar in the waterer every few days. A tablespoon per gallon is efficient.
- Fermented chicken feed or fermented foods are excellent options to boost the gut of chickens.
- Offer beneficial fresh or dried herbs such as oregano, thyme, sage, and garlic in the feed or waterer daily. A concoction made of these herbs and raw honey will help boost the immune system.
- Other natural items consists of oregano essential oil and colloidal silver. One drop of a high grade essential oil in a gallon of water, or 1 cup of colloidal silver in a gallon waterer also helps to combat the Coccidia parasite. Reserve the use of the oregano essential oil to pullet and older birds, offering 2 to 3 times a week.
Coccidiosis Symptoms | How to Beat Coccidiosis
Coccidiosis symptoms in chicken can be easily detected, mainly because with Coccidiosis comes telltale symptoms, if you know what you’re looking for. Infected birds will display one or more of the following symptoms:
- Infected birds will look lost, depressed, and can often be found standing alone away from other birds.
- Combs and wattles appear very pale and shrunken in size.
- Chickens which are heavily infected have no appetite or desire to consume water.
- The feces droppings may appear runny, yellow, foamy in texture, or even contain blood.
- Ill birds become lethargic, weak, and listless.
- In order to maintain body heat the bird will ruffle its feathers, making them appear puffed up.
- The tail feather area of the bird will often drop towards the ground.
- A severely infected chicken may also lay on its side to prevent pressure on the intestinal area.
Keep in mind, if any of these symptoms appear a coccidiosis treatment is available.
Coccidiosis Treatment | How to Beat Coccidiosis
Coccidiosis in chicken is treatable. However, without a proper coccidiosis treatment ready an infected bird will eventually die due to the parasitic overload. However, until it has passed an infected chicken has a fighting chance.
- Immediately isolate the sick bird from rest of the flock.
- Set up a temporary ‘hospital’ within the home, garage, or enclosed structure. Do not allow this area to be accessible to other poultry or wild birds.
- Make a quick, educated decision as to whether the coccidiosis treatment will consists of natural items or with a chemical option. For precautionary measures make sure to also treat the entire flock.
- A natural remedy will consists of herbs such as Wormwood, garlic, chicory, and black walnut hulls. These items have antiparasitic and antibacterial properties. Learn more about how to treat common chicken illnesses here.
- An alternative option would consist of providing Amprolium, also known as Corid, to the infected bird.
- Remove all bedding from the coop floor and nesting boxes. Burn the bedding to prevent flock members and wild birds access to it.
- Sanitize the coop, nesting boxes, and roosting bars with an ammonia and water solution; 1 part ammonia to 9 parts water. As a secondary precaution spray everything once again with a Melaneuca (high grade tea tree) or colloidal silver solution.
Poultry keepers do everything in their power to keep a healthy flock. Unfortunately, there will be a time when the effort put into saving a flock member is not successful. Always remember, how to beat coccidiosis begins by implementing good bio-security measures.
Disposing of Dead Poultry
As mentioned, coccidiosis in chicken often results in the loss of a flock member. Since this disease is parasitic, it is best to burn carcasses or have them incinerated.