Coccidiosis in Chickens

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My Lavender, who’s a great example of what a healthy chicken should look like. 

Chicks are extremely vulnerable to illness the first 8 weeks of their life, so it’s important to make sure that you’re giving your chicks the proper nutrients the first few weeks of their life. It’s important to give your chickens proper nutrients and vitamins throughout their life, but chick-hood should be a large significance. Cocci is the number one killer in backyard chicks, so it’s important to take the necessary precautions to prevent the disease, and remember that some chickens are more susceptible than others. These are some tips that I’ve read about from veterinary research and what I find works, but feel free to take your sick chicken to the vet if one is available. Poultry vets are expensive and hard to come by, however, which is why I’ve put together this list of treatments for your flock!

Common Signs of Cocci and Treatment

  • Coccidiosis: This disease infects the intestines of birds and mammals (targeting chicks under 6 months as their immunities aren’t built up yet) and can be deadly if not treated as soon as signs are shown. Despite your best efforts to spot it early, sometimes by the time the chick or chicken shows signs, it may be too late. Remember, chickens are naturals at hiding signs of illness as they are a prey species! For veterinary reading.
    • Some signs include:
      • Droopy (standing around, not eating or drinking)
      • Bloody Poop (not always the case)
      • Watery Poop
      • A chick that isn’t growing (caused because the chick isn’t eating enough and is malnourished)
      • Ruffled feathers

This disease is extremely deadly in chicks, and if not spotted quickly, the chances of the infected chick will be lessened. Older birds have stronger immunities, but even they needed to be treated quickly. If you do manage to catch the signs and treat accordingly, the infected bird will have a weakened immune system for life, and it’s important that you’re giving your chickens vitamins and supplements in their feed and water to keep a healthy immune system. Chickens need this regardless if they have been sick or not, so be sure to always have vitamins on hand. (My favorites are Poultry Nurti Drench, Apple Cider Vinegar Probiotic and Electrolytes, and Brewers Yeast/Garlic Powder.)

A good treatment for Cocci would be a dose of Corid in the water of the flock for a week. This kills the cocci in the intestines, and it worked wonders on one of my chickens. Somehow one of the chicks was ill in their first week, and I believe it was a case of cocci. Luckily, she was caught early on and with the Corid she lived! Now she’s one of the most energetic chicks (and a little leader) out of my littles, so I’m a believer in Corid! I don’t usually use commercial products, but if there’s a possibility that it will save my chick, I’m in! Use the Corid for 7 days, following the dosage instructions on the bottle.

When a chicken is sick, no matter the illness, they lose their appetite, just like humans do, so don’t be surprised when the sick chick isn’t eating their feed. When my chicken was sick, I fed her my oatmeal recipe, along with scrambled eggs. These were the only things the poor little would eat! Oatmeal is full of vitamins and nutrients, and the added spices are good for flushing toxins and assisting the immune system. The eggs contain the vitamins and proteins chicks need, and they love them! Makes sense, as this was a chickens sole food source while they were in the egg, which is why it contains all these essential things. Towards the end of the treatment she finally was walking around more with her flock mates and finding enough energy to eat her chick feed and drink on her own. I’d never been so relived in my life! It was a lucky strike because many chicks don’t survive cocci, and those who do have weakened immune systems. As I mentioned (I do practice what I preach!), I add Apple Cider Vinegar, Nutri Drench, Oregano Oil, and a Rooster Booster Vitamin supplement to their water, rotating each of them. I find that my chickens prefer the taste of ACV over any of these, which is perfect because that’s what they get the most of.

Preventives

Prevention is the most important thing, because not only does it lower the risk of your birds getting sick, but it allows for a cleaner, more aesthetic setup you and your girls will love! Here’s some common preventive measures you can take:

  • Oregano: Oregano is being studied as a natural antibiotic for chickens, and I’m a strong supporter of this. Oregano is a good “antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory,” says Gail Damerow from the book (my go-to!) The Chicken Health Handbook. The oil from oregano is very strong, and you can either feed your chickens fresh oregano during spring, summer and fall, or order oil of oregano for your chickens. I buy mine here from My Pet Chicken. My chickens don’t seem to mind the taste, and it’s super beneficial. Another idea is to plant oregano in a raised garden bed in the run or plant it and cage it, so that way your chickens can eat it when you want them to, or just to breathe in it’s oils.
  • Keep a clean setup: I clean out my coop everyday or two, (chickens poop A LOT when they sleep!) It’s good to have a little poop (especially with chicks) because chicken poop contains a small amount of cocci , so in leaving a little it allows your chicks to build up a natural immunity to cocci.
  • Free Ranging: Not only is this a good bordem buster and an overall benefit to your flock, but it allows them to be exposed to all kinds of diseases around your yard and build up an immunity to them. They’ll also be getting all kinds of good vitamins from the grass and clovers

Like I said, Cocci is a tricky disease and a lot of chickens that attract it don’t survive, but it’s important to not give up! This was my way of treating Cocci, and there’s so many alternative methods. Once you do find your method, keep your first aid stocked with it, because you’ll never know when you’ll need it!

Dancing with Chickens

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