Chick Care - How to Prevent Coccidiosis without Medicated Feed
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Prevent Coccidiosis Naturally in Chick Brooders

Prevent coccidiosis naturally in chick brooders without the use of medicated chick feed. Raising chicks holistically is achievable. Begin by naturally boosting the immune system and establishing good livestock husbandry.

Chick Care - How to Prevent Coccidiosis without Medicated Feed

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Coccidiosis is a nasty, deadly disease and one that many poultry keepers fear the most. This deadly disease is commonly found within chick brooders. Though adult poultry can contract it just as easily

By default, feed stores suggest medicated chick feed as the feed of choice. Many new chicken keepers will blindly agree to purchasing it. Simply because they do not know there are alternative options available.

Bringing Home Chicks

Raising chicks and adult chicken can be accomplished without the use of chemicals. Or synthetic option, for that matter.

For some chicken keepers, medicated chick feed is the best option to provide their young flock. The decision to feed medicated feed is a lifestyle choice. One of convenience for the busy family.

Establishing a healthy flock begins with a strong immune system. This practice begins the moment chicks arrive onto the property.

Is practicing a holistic regiment an easy process?

In truth, it takes time, diligence, and a few extra steps in your day. A holistic regiment does not stop at raising chicks. This practice transfers from the brooder to the coop. Continuing throughout the life of the chicken.

Chick Care - How to Prevent Coccidiosis without Medicated Feed

A well set-up chick brooder will assist in preventing coccidiosis and stop the spread of this intestinal parasite. Learn how to set up a healthy chick brooder.

What is Coccidiosis?

Coccidiosis is one of the most common deadly poultry diseases around. The parasite lives within the intestinal track of poultry, livestock, and even your pets.

A parasitic organism (protozoa) attaches itself to the intestinal lining, damaging the tissue and causing it to bleed. Therefore, when left untreated the disease can kill the infected bird.

The parasite lives in fecal matter, making it easily, and quickly, transferable to other flock members.

An infected bird exhibit signs of illness through their feces, as well as, through the bird’s behavior.  In order to prevent Coccidiosis one needs to be able to quickly identify the symptoms.

Learn the telltale signs that coccidiosis is present by reading the following article, Prevent Coccidiosis with Immune Boosting Alternatives.

Keep in mind, a bird can recover from this intestinal parasite, you simply need to learn how to beat coccidiosis.

Prevent Coccidiosis with Immune Boosting Alternatives

Keeping a healthy flock begins by raising healthy chicks. A healthy immune system for any living creature, including chicks, can be achieved by offering a few natural alternatives.

Remember, a holistic regiment will need to begin the moment chicks are brought home.

Holistic items such as herbs, probiotics, and colloidal silver work together to optimize the health of your flock. The items mentioned in this article are grown or made within the home.

Chick Care - How to Prevent Coccidiosis without Medicated Feed

The Brooder Size

The brooder size is important in preventing coccidiosis.  An overcrowded brooder is susceptible to becoming a breeding ground for coccidiosis.

Waste accumulates quickly in a brooder. Chicks naturally scratch and peck, and will consume anything they consider to be food. A clean brooder lessens the chances that chicks are consuming waste containing the coccidia parasite.

In order to reduce the build up of waste, select a brooder which will accommodate the amount of chicks brought home.

The size of your chick (due to the breed) and the age will determine the best brooder option. It is best to have a brooder larger than the suggest size mentioned below. Raising chicks requires having enough room for them to grow.

  • Up to 2 weeks, 1/2 sq ft per chick
  • 2 weeks to 4 weeks, 1 sq ft per chick
  • 4 weeks to 8 weeks 1.5 sq ft per chick
Chick Care - How to Prevent Coccidiosis without Medicated Feed

Keep Chick Brooders Clean

Daily cleaning of the brooder is important. This is as easy as removing the top layer of bedding and providing a fresh layer.  However, some brooders, depending on its size, can be cleaned every few days.

With that said, an excessively clean brooder can also cause harm. Confusing, right? Hey, who said raising chicks was easy?

There are various strains of coccidiosis. An extremely clean brooder minimizes the opportunity of exposing chicks to these milder strains. A super clean brooder takes away the opportunity to build the immune system.

Believe it or not, there is a happy medium to how clean a brooder will need to be.

One last tip, the coccidia parasite thrives in wet moist areas. The feces of an infected chick mixed with the moist wet bedding creates a breeding ground for the coccidia parasite.

  • Minimize moisture with the use of pine shavings.
  • Keep waterers and feeders substantially apart to reduces the risk that feed will be tossed into a moist area.

This disease can spread like wild fire, running the risk of infecting the entire flock within a few short days.

Medicated Chick Feed

Once upon a time, prior to living a holistic life, we offered medicated feed. I now realize that medicated chick feed is not necessary.

Medicated feed contains a coccidiostat known as Amprolium, a drug which the FDA does not consider an antibiotic. Amprolium is a thiamin blocker.  The coccidia parasite needs thiamin in order to multiply and thrive within the poultry’s intestine tract.

The Amprolium found in medicated feed allows time for the chick’s immune system to mature. This occurs between 16 to 18 weeks of life.


A vaccination is available to prevent Coccidiosis. Many feed stores do not sell vaccinated chicks. However, many hatcheries do offer the opportunity to have chicks vaccinated prior to shipping.

Medicated feed should not be offered to chicks which have been vaccinated. Period. The vaccination nulls the need to offer medicated feed.

Provide non-medicated feed and immune boosting holistic alternatives to vaccinated chicks.

Withholding egg and meat

The FDA states that Amprolium is not an antibiotic. Amprolium is no longer present in the body by the time a bird reaches maturity. Making it unnecessary to withhold eggs and or meat.


Do not provide ducklings medicated feed. Ducklings consume an obscene more feed than chicks. The amount of Amprolium consumed is deadly to ducklings.

Instead, provide a high protein feed with niacin to support proper growth. In addition to a proper feed, offer natural alternatives to boost the immune system.

Broiler Birds

This breed reached maturity by 8 weeks. Because of the amount of feed this breed consumes in a short period of time do not offer medicated chick feed.

Broiler birds consume a high protein to support their rapid growth.  This feed does not contain a coccidiostat and will not protect the bird from contracting Coccidiosis.

Like ducklings, offer broiler birds natural alternatives to boost the immune system.

Prevent Coccidiosis with a Holistic Approach

Establishing a good routine is necessary for living a natural life. This applies to the lives of livestock. It is not difficult to achieve, simply tedious.

Using a holistic approach to prevent coccidiosis requires poultry keepers to be diligent. In order to build the immune system natural items must be offered daily.

Prevent Coccidiosis with Herbs

Select herbs which contain antibacterial, antioxidant, and antimicrobial qualities. Oregano, thyme, peppermint, sage, fresh garlic and dried astragalus root meet these requirements. Offer these herbs fresh or dried daily.

Offer herbs daily:

  • mixed a small handful with feed daily
  • infuse herbs in waterer, freshen the water every 24 hours

In addition to herbs, fresh garlic provided daily is an excellent immune boosting item.

  • Crush a small fresh clove, add to the waterer, freshen the water every 24 hours
  • add minced to the feed daily
  • offer a ferment consisting of garlic, raw honey, and astragalus root, add 1 teaspoon per quart of water

The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion is an excellent resource for those who are new, and not so new, to growing and utilizing herbs.  Amy not only talks about beneficial herbs for human purpose, but also addresses how they benefit livestock.

Prevent Coccidiosis with Colloidal Silver

Colloidal Silver (CS) contains antiseptic, antibacterial, and antimicrobial qualities. Silver, also known as, silver water, is stated to be the purest natural antibiotic available.

Colloidal silver is used to fight bacteria and the growth of it. As a matter of fact, colloidal silver is used in hospitals and burn centers.

15 household uses for Colloidal Silver

Colloidal silver consists of microscopic and submicroscopic silver particles suspended in distilled water. The outcome is a product so fine that the silver particles cannot be strained.

Making CS ideal for addressing cuts, burns, and infections. In addition to this, providing colloidal silver daily assists in minimizing parasitic issues in the intestine.

Both humans and livestock benefit greatly by incorporating colloidal silver as part of a holistic regiment.

With that said, CS can be provided regularly. The following is the dosing amount we provide, others may have a different opinion:

  • Quart Jar – 5 tablespoons
  • Gallon Waterer – 1/2 cup
  • Three Gallon Waterer – 1 1/2 cups

Infusing herbs, fresh and garlic with colloidal silver is a strong immune boosting item.

Preventing Coccidiosis with Fermented Foods

Providing items which contain beneficial live bacteria creates a healthy digestive system, which is the base for a strong immune system. Offer fermented items from day one, continuing throughout the lifespan of the bird.

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is available as a pasteurized or unpasteurized option. When using it as a beneficial natural probiotic raw, unpasteurized ACV containing the mother is required.

Purchase unpasteurized ACV in the health food section of the market. Homemade ACV is easy to do, though it does take time to ferment.

Raw apple cider vinegar does not need to be provided daily. Two to three times a week in the waterer is sufficient.

  • Quart Jar – 1/4 of a teaspoon
  • Gallon Waterer – 1 tablespoon
  • 3 Gallon Waterer – 3 tablespoons

Fermented Foods

If you are fermenting foods at home, regardless of what it is, it can be shared with your flock.  Offering extra kefir grains and kombucha SCOBYs are excellent options.

Again, provide a small amount throughout the week.

If you’re not making your own ferment foods consider providing your flock fermented whole grain chicken feed.

Over the counter synthetic probiotics are available for chicks and livestock, however, I am going to advise against using them. A synthetic probiotics is not made to be consumed daily. Not mention, a synthetic item does not contain the same beneficial qualities found in cultured live bacteria.

The Risk

There is always a risk that with raising chicks coccidiosis will be present. As high as a 50% probability.

Providing medicated chick feed is not a guaranteed prevention plan. A strong holistic regiment, an excellent diet, and maintaining a clean chick brooder helps to reduce coccidiosis.

So, why bother with a natural regiment to fight Coccidiosis?

The items presented here are immune boosting. Meaning, chicks which do not contract the parasite leave the brooder healthier than those which were not provided these items.

prevent coccidiosis

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