Wet weather and dirty water can make it rear its' ugly head. With all the rain we have been having, I want to make sure that all of our fellow chicken keepers are diligent out there to prevent it and other types of nasty illnesses that can harm their own feathered families. So what exactly is it and how do I prevent it?
Coccidiosis ( käk-si-dē-ō-ses) is a parasitic disease and there are 11 strains that can affect chickens. These parasites can live inside a host (chicken) or outside as well and loves wet moist conditions. Chickens that appear healthy, shed the parasites in their stools. With proper conditions, these microscopic parasites can multiply. Chickens through scavenging, ingesting contaminated foods and drinking from contaminated water, such as puddles in the run, not knowingly, infect themselves.
Chickens that become infected will usually show signs about 3 days after infection. The poor chickens droop, stop eating, pass bloody stools (these look like tar), and huddle together. Typically, by the fourth day, the chicken will die, usually due to blood loss.
Treatment for coccidiosis usually entails treating your entire flock. There are several medications on the market that can be purchased on the internet and at your local feed store. Amprolium is a good one that can be used in laying hens. Your local avian veterinarian can also provide you more potent medications as well. However, with a little preventative measures, your flock should never see this disease or many others for that matter.
Here are some tips to keeping your flock healthy and keeping illnesses away:
Add probiotics, vitamins and electrolytes and apple cider vinegar to your chickens' water supply and boost their immune systems.
Add 2 % food grade diatomaceous earth to their feed
Keep water clean and free from droppings.
Consider using and cleaning dropping trays under the roosts daily.
Keep litter dry. Pine shavings are great and noticeable wet areas can be removed and replaced easily.
Do not overcrowd your flock. Be sure to quarantine any new chickens you are adding to your flock for at least 1 month.
Keep puddles of water from developing in your run. If you notice any, fill them with pine shavings to absorb the water.
Seek treatment at the first sign of a sick bird. Your flock's life may depend on it.
Consider vaccinations for your chicks.
Here are some more sources of information on Coccidiosis:
Coccidiosis in Chickens
Biological Control of Coccidiosis in Small Poultry Flocks
Prevent Coccidiosis in Chickens--with diet