With spring around the corner, everyone has baby chicks on their mind! But with warm weather and spring showers comes… coccidiosis. Do some reading NOW so you understand the symptoms and treatment regimen.
Coccidia is a protozoa, a single-celled organism, found in the environment. It multiplies quickly in wet, warm conditions- like you might find in a brooder. It multiplies and takes over the gut of baby chicks that have not yet developed an immunity to it. There are 9 species of Coccidia that affect poultry. Not all of them cause the telltale bloody stools, so do not depend on blood in the droppings for diagnosis. You need a vet to run a fecal float test to check for coccidia eggs. I recommend EVERYONE keep Corid onhand for treating Coccidia. It is a thiamine blocker, not an antibiotic, so it will not hurt anything to run a course for 5 days if you suspect your chicks have been exposed.
Medicated chick feed has a TINY amount of amprolium in it, which is the same thiamine blocker found in Corid. This is used to help prevent coccidia, but it is NOT 100% protective. Even chicks on medicated feed can develop coccidia in certain cases, so do not dismiss coccidia just because you use medicated chick starter.
Be sure and treat for five FULL days with Corid or the coccidia can rebound. Any chicks too droopy or ill to drink on their own should be given drops of medicated water on the tip of their beak every hour until they are well enough to drink. Follow the 5 days with a few days of poultry vitamins in the water to help replenish the B vitamins that were blocked by the Corid.
Where does coccidia come from? It’s out in the soil, so often people will bring it in to the brooder from their yard or from visiting feed stores or other places where chicken germs might be carried. I highly recommend washing hands before and after handling chicks and birds for both your health and theirs. You and your family, and your cats, dogs, and other livestock, are not at risk of getting coccidiosis from your chickens. Coccidia strains are species specific. Cat/dog coccidia are different from poultry coccidia.