How to Beat Coccidiosis
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How to Beat Coccidiosis | Keep a Healthy Flock

Keep a healthy flock of backyard chickens by learning how to beat coccidiosis. Coccidiosis in chickens, 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.

Photo of a chicken with coccidiosis

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How to Beat Coccidiosis by Knowing What is Is

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 gut wall. Over time the parasite is shed through the feces of the chicken, and the vicious cycle will continue until the 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.  

Our Story

Let me preface this with, we have experienced 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 chickens 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 fecal material 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 management practices and animal husbandry mean 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 and clean environmental conditions.

Feed and Waterers

  1. 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. 
  2. Clean water containers and feed bowls regularly, taking care to remove all fecal dropping immediately.
  3. 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.

Chicken Coop, Brooders, and Runs

  1. 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.
  2. Remove wet litter or soiled bedding daily.
  3. Rotate the run annually, or as often as possible. Allow the soil to rest for one year prior to reintroducing the flock to it. 
  4. Minimize visitors into the chicken area. Request visitors to wear ‘property specific’ footwear or disposable foot covers.
  5. 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.
  6. 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. 
  7. 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. 

Quarantine Period

  1. Establish a 30 day quarantine period for all new flock members. This allows for any illness or disease to make themselves present.
Image of the floor of a chicken roosting area with chicken droppings

Naturally Preventing Coccidiosis | How to Beat Coccidiosis

Prevention of 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Fermented chicken feed or fermented foods are excellent options to boost the gut of chickens.
  4. 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 their immune systems. 
  5. 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:

  1. Infected birds will look lost, depressed, and can often be found standing alone away from other birds. 
  2. Combs and wattles appear very pale and shrunken in size.
  3. Chickens which are heavily infected have no appetite or desire to consume water which will lead to weight loss.
  4. The chicken’s droppings may appear runny, yellow, foamy in texture, or even contain blood. 
  5. Ill birds become lethargic, weak, and listless.
  6. In order to maintain body heat the bird will ruffle its feathers, making them appear puffed up. 
  7. The tail feather area of the bird will often drop towards the ground. 
  8. Severe cases of coccidiosis in chickens may also cause the bird to lay on its side to prevent pressure on the intestinal area.
  9. Decline in egg production.

Keep in mind, if any of these symptoms appear a coccidiosis treatment is available. 

Image of very sick chicken with coccidiosis

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.

  1. Immediately isolate the sick bird from rest of the flock.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. Remove all bedding from the coop floor and nesting boxes. Burn the bedding to prevent flock members and wild birds access to it.
  5. 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 Melaleuca (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.

In addition to coccidiosis there are other common poultry illnesses. Make sure to know what you are dealing with prior to offering treatment.

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.

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18 Comments

  1. Great post! Good tips and reminders for those already raising chickens and perfect for those starting out. People, myself included, do forget how easilyl it can transmit between birds and flocks.

    I get asked pretty frequently about farm tours. I don’t do them. It’s just asking for other chicken keepers to bring in foreign pathogens for your chickens to fight. I work hard like you do to keep my girls healthy, but know its just a heartbeat away in you let your guard down for even a second.

    Lisa/Fresh Eggs Daily

  2. When you say you treated buffette can u give more details? If she wasn’t eating or drinking did you force the solution down her throat? How often, how much? How?

    1. Amprolium & Corid are distributed in the water, a bird needs to drink it. Take her beak and gently dip it into the water, this naturally forces a drinking process. For our hen, who was very ill we used an infant medicine syringe and gently provided it to her; opening her beak and dropping a few drops at a time, quite a few times a day. For birds who are able to drink on their own, apply to the waterers, follow the instructions on the package.

  3. We are unfortunately going through this right now. I made the mistake of taking a friend’s unwanted hen. She takes good care of her flock and the bird was healthy so I let my guard down. Within a week I started losing my youngest birds. It took me a couple days to figure out it was coccidiosis though which cost me dearly. I thought it was due to the heat because we had just had a heat wave…then I noticed the bloody poop and started treatment right away. Unfortunately I lost 9 birds, all but two of my specially ordered rare chicks and my silkie roo 🙁 It’s been a rough week but I think we are finally pulling through it. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to bring in another adult bird for fear this will happen again….newly hatched chicks only from here on out 🙁

    1. So sorry this happened. Bringing in other poultry is a hit or miss, and only a VERY long quarantine period can catch thing. But sometimes things slip through regardless of how long they have been quarantined.

  4. Hi! We rescued five hens from our daughter’s school where the flock was suffering from coccidiosis and we medicated them when they first arrived and have been clean up until this week when our beloved Barbara has been exhibiting symptoms. We plan to clean the coop like you described and start medicated again. Could you tell me how often you have to clean the coop so thoroughly? You’re not bleaching daily are you? Just wanting to learn what we need to do to be successful. Also, do you think that you can give apple cider vinegar and or the oregano oil with corvid medicated water?

    Thank you!

  5. Love colloidal silver and am happy to see others using it too. We use Molly’s herbal wormer. I add the ACV to their water every time. The colloidal silver was part of a very intense treatment plan I used on a pair of puppies 4+ yrs ago and they survived Parvo without seeing a vet. I was up every hour for a week checking on them all through the night and slept in our sofa to avoid waking my husband. Colloidal silver is great stuff.

  6. I am soon to get 1 day old chicks. looking for preventative treatments for Coccidiosis in chicks. Colloidal or ionic silver in water, or sprayed on bedding? I heard 3 drops Doterra On Guard 1 drop Oregano oil 4 oz. distilled water sprayed on feed, perhaps spray this too on bedding? If so, use regularly or how often? Any other non pharmaceuticals?

    1. I also use doTerra and use them heavily on our homestead. However, I would not suggest using it with chicks, even in a diluted form. I do not use EOs in any form until poultry reach maturity. You do not want to create a sterile environment in a brooder, what you want to do is allow your chicks to build up a tolerance for the bacteria. I have an article on my site, Prevent Coccidiosis Naturally in a Chick Brooder (https://afarmgirlinthemaking.com/prevent-coccidiosis-naturally-chick-brooders/). Much like EOs we utilize CS on our homestead as well. Unless you’re brewing it yourself I would not offer it unless it is necessary. Take a look at the article, I am sure it will help you along your journey for raising chicks.

  7. This was great information! However my story is that we recently bought our homesteading neighbors new baby goats, brother and sister. (3/1/21
    The morning after we got them home, I went down to the barn at about 7:00 am to feed, when I saw that the girl (Asbel) was bleeding from her anus, and seemed to be constipated. I took them both to the house ( My mistake because now we know how bad that was and increased the risk of spreading to all of our animals) and we kept them in a tile bathroom to contain her blood dribble and diarreha.

    I called my neighbor and she came right away to check on them, she said to watch it and she wasn’t really sure what it was.
    My mom was vigorously searching for answers when we realized it was Coccidiosis. We called all the vets and caretaking farms around and we were told several different things, “she is going to die, bring her in right away.” “Your animals are going to catch it” Etc..

    We were terrified, we read that it may not ever leave your land. we are very sad because this land was in perfect shape, amazing. No diseases like this or anything. When I say perfect I mean it. We called the neighbor again and she finally told us she struggled with it many years ago and that she keeps the baby’s and moms separate to control it because the mothers have it. Keep in mind they are also kept in a not super dry place in her farm.

    While in the bathroom the girl stopped bleeding, but her poop was still “mucusy” and not the right color. But she staid happy and playful basically the whole time.

    We took her into town and got her looked at by the colleges veterinary clinic. We didn’t take the boy because he seemed okay and was not having any symptoms even though he very most likely has it.

    The vets were not very helpful over the phone and held back information that answered simple yes or no question, because we have never had goats before and we were looking for answers about Coccidiosis.

    We had Some stool to be tested but turns out we didn’t have enough to be looked at I guess, weirdly? Anyway, They said she looked fine and they waited a long time for her too poop but she wouldn’t go, even though she ate regular all day except for her 11:00am feeding time, where she did not eat. (we brought her bottle since we expected her to be ravenous afterward, which she was.) She has barely pooped that I know of but she has been peeing regularly. They gave her some treatment, I cant remember the name but it was white. They gave us an xtra to give Morin ( the boy) and did very well in taking it.
    (They eat at 7am, 11am, 3pm, 7pm then bedtime.)

    We are going to “harvest” as much poop as we can from her and give it to them to test.

    I put them to bed after a bottle and some potty breaks (haha) and then put them up, They seemed perfect and very chill, compared to last night. To note the farmer separated them after most likely a day and they probably got it on her farm. But the stress from moving them house to house very early made them very susceptible.

    Right now they are having half a cup of formula and half a cup of their mothers milk each, but we are super low on goat milk, so tonight they had probably a fourth cup of real milk and the rest is formula. I personally think its way to early to take them off real milk like that but it was because we are desperate. Although they didn’t seem to mind, and another note is that they turn two weeks old tomorrow 3/3/21

    We aren’t sure what to do with out land, Ive been researching it and getting what I can but I would really love to learn more, really.
    We are worried we won’t be able to get anymore live stock again for many years, and we are heart broken that are land is now tainted and carries it.

    If there is a way to get rid of it from literally anything, animal, animal building land etc.. please let me know by email, ( my moms) danarobinsonjewlery@gmail.com

    I thank any of you for reading this, and any help is deeply appreciated. We love animals and want to keep them as safe and healthy as possible.

    1. I personally have not had issues with coccidiosis with my goat herd. For this reason I am going to send you to talk to my friend Janet of Timber Creek Farms. You can find her on social media or through her website. She can answer more questions for you about what you’re dealing with and how to best address it! Good luck with your young babes!

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