How To Beat Coccidiosis And Keep Your Flock Healthy

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We never thought we would be the homestead that would have to deal with coccidiosis, let alone beat it before it drestroyed our entire flock.

This is the deep down dirty truth of how coccidiosis can be brought to your flock(s), which include chickens, ducks, geese, other fowl, and farm animals; the deadliest killer of poultry.  About 2 years ago we learned the hard way about, and we were extremely lucky it affected only one hen, never to reach other flock members.

Coccidiosis is a parasitic diseases that it usually affects chicks, and when you least expect it one of your birds, or your entire flock, can come down with it.  Coccidiosis comes in various strains and as chicks they begin to build a resistance towards strains that have been exposed to them.  By the time they reach maturity they have built a good resistance, but what they suddenly fall ill to is the exposure of a new strain brought to them.  A strain that their immune system does not know begins its attack on their intestine.

What brought me to write this post? Three things.

We were devastated about our hen, Buffette, falling ill.  This was our first illness to any of our hens and though we thought we were prepared, nothing could prepare us for this.  She did not have the tell tail sign of having bloody poop, her signs were in her behavior and foamy droppings, she was dying right before our eyes.  Her illness was noticed 5 days after moving to the new property, and it shocked us.  We found her standing in the rain staring at a tree trunk, tail dropped, feathers puffed out, comb shrunk and pale, eyes closed, not her normal behavior at all.  We immediately quarantined her and brought her into the house, keeping her in a large dog kennel, our makeshift hospital.  We consulted a few people, one included a vet, and the census was possible coccidiosis.  The vet suggested Amprolium, so we treated her and the entire flock immediately.  One week later Buffette was doing better and the entire flock made it through.

I credit a healthy strong immune system for their survival, and from the moment we bring home chicks or hatch them they are provided herbs daily, and ACV & fresh garlic a few times (either in their waterers or sprinkled over their feed) building up their immune system.

If we can educate at least one person on the subject, then everything we went through with Buffette would be worth it.

The second reason was a visit to my mother-in-laws homestead which included spending time with her new flock.  I knew I would be working with her flock, coop, and run area, but had not brought a change of shoes.  Why is that so important?  I would be compromising her flock with the shoes that I had worn around our property and in our chicken area.  I could have unintentionally brought her flock a strain of coccidiosis that they had not built immunity to via the soles of my shoes.  Many people do not realize how easily a visitor can infect a flock without even knowing it.

We all have the excitement of introducing our flock to visitors, but we often forget the importance of bio-security measures – methods in which we protect our flock.  Providing visitors, especially ones who have their own flocks, with protective shoe covers or shoes which have only been used on your property, even have them admire your flock from the other side of the fence will helps to narrow the risk that your birds will pick up a stain that they do not have.  Our friends over at Happy Days Farm wrote a great blog in regards to how to execute bio-security measures while guests visit with your flock.

Here it is, information that every backyard chicken, duck, geese, guinea, other fowl, and small farm animals owner should know.

Wellness checks daily and knowing each flock member can help you to detect any issues early on
Execute wellness checks daily and knowing each flock member’s behavior can help you to detect any issues early on

HOW YOUR FLOCK BECOMES INFECTED

1. Tracking waste onto your property through the bottom of your shoes or clothing

2. Wild birds can also carry coccidiosis, dropping waste in the area where your flock is kept

3. Ingesting the waste of an infected bird; generally occurs when feed or scraps are provided in a high traffic area

4. Chicken or chicks raised in crowded coops or runs, causing unsanitary living quarters

5. Weather conditions. Coccidiosis breeds mainly in warm, wet conditions; spring time is the prime breeding season for coccidiosis

6. New flock members carrying a strain of the disease

7. Unsanitary feed and watering containers

Allowing your flock to free range, provide a large run area, or rotate run locations yearly helps to prevent issues of coccidiosis
Allowing your flock to free range, provide a large run area, or rotate run locations yearly helps to prevent issues of coccidiosis

HOW TO PREVENT COCCIDIOSIS (holistic solutions provided by Fresh Eggs Daily)

1. Keep living situation clean and dry, remove wet bedding regularly, ensure good ventilation in coops

2. Keep feed and water area clean

3. Keep feed and water containers clean

4. Do no overcrowd living quarters and provide an adequate size run and coop

5. Do not allow visitors to enter your coop or run area unless they are wearing protective foot covering or shoes which have never have left your property

6. Inspect your poultry’s waste regularly; installing a drop pan under the roost allows for the ability to monitor it on a regular basis – poop reference chart

7. Free range poultry are less likely to contract Coccidiosis

8. Rotate run location every year allowing for the land to recover

9. Expose chicks to possible strains by leaving soiled bedding in a chick brooder – cleaning the bedding week verses daily

10. Provide raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (Braggs or homemade apple cider vinegar) in their water a few times a week

11. Daily feeding of fresh or dried oregano, green tea and cinnamon in the feed

12. Probiotics powder on a regular basis in the feed

13. A few drops of oregano oil into their water, if you notice that they are not consuming the fresh oregano; cinnamon oil can be added as well

14. Fresh minced garlic in their waterers or mixed into their feed a few times a week

15. Feed your chicks medicated feed, or feed non medicated feed and treat with Amprolium once a week in their water

Adding a drop pan under where they roost will allow you to catch any possible issues quicker
Adding a drop pan under where they roost will allow you to monitor their droppings and catch any possible issues

SYMTHOMS OF AN INFECTED BIRD 

1. Depressed looking, often found to be ‘lost’ standing in one spot, not moving, staring off into space

2. Combs and wattles are pale, almost white and shrunken

3. No appetite, not drinking

4. Bloody or watery diarrhea, sever infection can caused yellow foamy poop

5. Becoming lethargic, weak and listless

6. Ruffled feathers; a hen will look ‘puffed’ up

7. Tail feather and back end will be drooped

8. A chicken may also lay on its side preventing pressure on their sore stomach

Having a waste chart available to assist in monitoring dropping will help you recognize normal-healthy to abnormal-unhealthy droppings
Having a waste chart available to assist in monitoring dropping will help you recognize normal-healthy to abnormal-unhealthy droppings

Treatment

If your flock should become infected there are treatments available; treatment is highly effective if the symptoms are caught early enough.  The antibiotics, Amprolium or Cordi, can be found at most feed stores, online, or at private farms who sell chickens and other poultry. Follow the instructions closely on the package and make sure to treat the entire flock, not just the infected animal.

Remove all of the bedding inside the coop (we burned ours), and sanitize the coop. We sanitized the coop using bleach & water, then spraying down the coop, nesting boxes, and roosts with tea tree oil.

Janet over at Timber Creek Farm wrote a great blog on how to detect if your chicken is ill and how to treat the illness.  The key to good poultry husbandry is to know the symptoms, which allows you to detect an illness early on and possibly save the hen’s life or the lives of your entire flock.

It has been almost 2 years since the incident, and Buffette has been healthy since.  This past summer she went broody for the first time and hatched out a guinea keet, which we named Happy.

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Items to keep on hand, these can be purchased through our Amazon affiliated link:  Braggs Raw Unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar, Probios, disposable shoe slip covers, Corid antibiotic.


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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?

    • 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 🙁

    • 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!

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