Backyard chickens are easy to keep when you have the essentials in place to keep them healthy. Sometimes, however, chickens get sick just like any other living being. The most common chicken ailment is called Coccidiosis, often known as Cocci (pronounced cox-y). Preventing and treating the condition is possible when you take the proper steps.
What is Coccidiosis?
Coccidiosis is caused by coccidia, a microscopic parasitic organism found in bird feces. Chickens become infected when they ingest coccidia. They attach to the gut lining, multiply and begin to feed on the digestive tract causing it to bleed. Once the chickens is infected, it passes the parasite in its stool days before symptoms can be recognized.
Coccidiosis in chickens usually occurs in warm months. The severity of the disease is directly affected by the amount of coccidia that is eaten. If a chicken is poorly fed, it is more susceptible than those that are well fed. Chickens that survive Coccidiosis become immune to future infections.
There are things you can do to prevent your chickens from getting Coccidiosis:
- Replace bedding often
- Provide fresh feed every day
- Ensure fresh water is available
- Disinfect feeders and waterers often
- Give ample space for the number of chickens you have
- Provide medicated feed
- Include oregano in water
Symptoms of Coccidiosis
How do you know if your chicken has Coccidiosis? Look for these symptoms that can occur at any time:
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of color in shanks
- Pale combs and/or wattles
- Ruffled feathers
- Huddling or acting cold
- Blood or mucus in feces
- Diarrhea or yellow foam
Unfortunately, a chicken may die before you are able to spot and treat its symptoms. That is a part of life on the homestead that you will learn to get used to. It happens to all of us.
If you ask 10 chicken owners how to treat Coccidiosis, you will probably get 10 different answers. These three are the most popular:
- Replace the chicken’s water with a CORID solution for five days. CORID is a soluble powder that can be purchased on Amazon.
- Conduct a milk flush by replacing feed for 3-5 days with 4 lbs dried milk, 2 lbs corn meal, 2 lbs oatmeal, and 1 lb bran.
- In the case of an extreme outbreak, give chickens raw milk to coat the gut and give their immune system a boost.
Following these guidelines should help keep you chickens healthy for years of breeding and laying.