Coccidiosis – the chick killer

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DSC_2660Ever have sick chickens? The new Chantecler chicks I got unfortunately came with an unwanted virus, Coccidiosis. The toll so far is 2 chicks out of 6, and one still on the critical list. Its a virus / bacterium that lives in the intestines and shows as blood in the stool of the chicks. It causes them not to digest food well if at all so they basically waste away, not able to eat and then die. Such as is what happened so far to two of ours.

From BackyardChickens (

What is Coccidiosis?

     Coccidia are a microscopic parasitic organism that infect poultry when ingested by the chicken. The parasites found in the ground or bird feces attaches itself to the lining in the gut, multiplies and becomes an oocyst feeding in the digestive tract which will make it bleed. Once infected it passes the parasites in its poop days before symptoms occur. The coccidia that infect chickens do not affect other types of livestock, and vice versa. Different kinds of birds are even infected by a different kind of coccidia. Coccidiosis (pronounced cock-sid-ee-oh-sis) in chickens is caused by nine species of Eimeria protozoa, some are more serious than others. It is fatal, but if your chicken survived this disease it would be immune to future cocci infections.

The breeder I got the chicks from would have had this virus going around their farm though I didn’t hear anything about it. Its an unfortunate learning experience and we had never had any such issues in our experience with chickens so far (the neighbour and I). This is after raising 97 meat birds and incubating and hatching 40+ birds and raising them to laying ages. The lesson is that transporting livestock from other farms can be potentially hazardous to the new livestock and to all your existing livestock to which you may introduce sickness.

Thankfully this particular issue is very common so off the shelf antibiotics appear to have saved the day for us.

Your local Co-op store will have the stuff to treat this. Hope this helps the next guy.


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