is Coccidiosis in Chickens? Keep Chicken Diseases down on
What is Coccidiosis?
what is Coccidiosis?
It is a
that can kill your chickens on your homestead overnight, and you may
not even be aware of
the symptoms before it is too late. However, coccidiosis is far easier
to prevent than to cure, and if you want good chicken management,
it is important to know what to look out for, and what action needs to
It normally only kills young chickens
between weeks 3 - 8,
and the coccidia
cause the bird
to bleed internally from the intestinal
walls. So a really nasty, and painful disease. And it is not just a
disease affecting chickens, but can also affect puppies as well.
How do Chickens get
First of all, coccidia
on your homestead,
just like bacteria is everywhere. Coccidia could be shed in the
of older birds, or may even be in your soil. You cannot hope to
eliminate them, but what you can do is to reduce their numbers so that
they don't do any damage to your poultry flock. In small amounts your
will ingest them and build up a resistance to them, which is what you
want. It is when they are overwhelmed by coccidia in high numbers that
the problems start and poultry disease develops.
Coccidia are very
prolific parasites. A
single sporulated oocyst
have a big impact when eaten by a chicken.
Each oocyst has four sporocysts in it, and each sporocyst has two
in it. The
digestive tract releases the eight sporozoites
from the oocyst, and they move into the cell lining of the digestive
tract. Inside the cell, the parasite divides and invades more cells.
There may be several generations of asexual multiplication; however,
this stage is self-limiting and eventually stops. Finally, a sexual
stage occurs in which male and female organisms unite and form new
oocysts that are protected by a thick wall. These oocysts are shed in
What are the Symptoms of
What should you be
looking for? When you are homesteading
and you own
animals you should always observe them closely. Any
bird affected will be sitting in a hunched position, with ruffled
feathers and blood in the droppings, and/or a sticky white diarrhea
coating the feathers of the vent area. Adult birds may lose weight and
stop laying eggs.
How to Limit Coccidiosis
The coccodia love wet
especially when they can be found near warm places. So rainy weather is
always a worry, as is water areas that over-spill around heat lamps in
the hen house. Damp conditions around heat lamps are perfect breeding
grounds for the coccidia. Where you have this problem dig out the wet
litter and replace it with dry litter.
If you find that the litter is very
dirty, get rid of it and replace it with clean litter. This is
important when you remember that the coccidia are present in chicken
poop. It is also important to do so if you can smell ammonia in the
shed, as this is coming from the chicken poop, indicative of too much
poop and not enough litter and this will also cause respiratory
problems in your birds.
Finally, in raising healthy chickens it
is important that they receive a good balanced diet when you first get
them. You will
need a diet that will keep the gizzard healthy. Studies have shown that
those chickens who were fed a good commercial chick ration had
well-developed gizzards, which in turn reduced the numbers and the
effects of coccidiosis later on. Wheat is an important factor in this,
as is whey powder (which you can buy at health shops) and should be
added to the chick started feed once or twice a week.
I am also a firm
fan of cider vinegar in
the water which also aids the gut, and keeps
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