What is Coccidiosis in Chickens? Keep Chicken Diseases down on Homesteads

What is Coccidiosis?

Just what is Coccidiosis? It is a very serious chicken disease 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, then it is important to know what to look out for, and what action needs to be taken.

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 Coccidiosis?

First of all, coccidia are everywhere on your homestead, just like bacteria is everywhere. Coccidia could be shed in the droppings 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 flock 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 can have a big impact when eaten by a chicken. Each oocyst has four sporocysts in it, and each sporocyst has two sporozoites 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 the faeces.

What are the Symptoms of Coccidiosis?

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 places, 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 disease down.

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I recently bought in some parent stock poultry which were found to have cocci. They were +16 weeks old and some lived and a half the stock died. …

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I treated my 7 week old chickens for coccidiosis three weeks ago with CORID. Should I do a follow up treatment? I suspected one of my chicks had coccidiosis …

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