Simple and Easy Steps for Preventing Coccidiosis
Coccidiosis is an illness that causes a great deal of stress to chicken owners and can cause quick death to chickens. Unfortunately, the cocci that cause this illness – tiny protozoa – are naturally present in the ground, just waiting to find a chicken as their host. Preventing this quick-acting illness is easy and much more effective than trying to treat it when it happens. Do you know the tricks to keeping coccidiosis at bay?
Keep the environment dry.
The first course of action against beating an enemy is to know what makes it strong. In the case of cocci, they thrive in environments that are warm and moist. This preference for moist environments is one of the reasons that coccidiosis is so prevalent in flocks of baby chick; brooders are warm and very often moist as baby chicks tend to bumble into their water and droppings and walk around.
The two most common culprits in coccidiosis outbreaks are the run and coop flooring. If you confine your birds to a pen, use play sand or some other non-clay sand as the grounds. Do not use top soil, not regular dirt, and certainly not a small area with grass; these areas harbor and encourage cocci with their lack of drainage. Alternately, sand drains and dries out quickly making it not only a poor environment for cocci but also a bad one for the eggs of parasites.
Keep the bedding in your coop just as dry. In warm months, never use anything like hay, straw, or grass clippings alone for bedding. Instead, use kiln dried pine shavings or pine pellets- the kind that horse people use. Use them deep. This allows for air in the bedding and dryness, two things that cocci cannot stand.
Allowing both the coop and run flooring to get a healthy dose of sunshine is always a sound practice. This not only helps dry out the environment to fight cocci but also gives your birds a good source of natural sunlight to help them produce the vitamins the need for their health.
Coccidiosis cannot thrive in a clean environment.
Coccidiosis is a lot more likely to spread when the environment is less-than-hygienic. Taking the extra time to ensure that all waterers and feeders are free of droppings and slime can help ensure the flock resists coccidiosis. For example, make sure birds do not repeatedly eat anywhere where their poop falls such as under roosts.
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Droppings in the water are another sure way to encourage not only coccidiosis but also other illnesses, of course. Keep waterers out from under places where chickens congregate such as roosting poles. Also, discourage birds from sitting on top of their waterers by using cones or even pie pans. With baby chicks, put their waterers up on overturned flowerpot bases or risers to prevent babies from walking in their water. Place the waterers on the opposite side of the brooder from the heat lamp to help reduce the water heat.
A healthy gut helps prevent coccidiosis and other gut-borne illnesses.
The smart poultry-keeper maintains a healthy routine for the digestive tracts of their flock. For babies, this means keeping them on medicated started until they outgrow the need. For every age of chicken, this means the occasional use of a probiotic product such as plain yogurt, Probios Powder (in a food snack, not in the water), or another acidophilus product. Good bacteria in the digestive tract crowd out bad bacteria and help make the environment unfriendly to cocci.
The occasional use of apple cider vinegar (ACV) in the waterer (such as twice a month) is another health-booster for the digestive tract of chickens. ACV helps to adjust the gut back to a normal pH, one that pathogens such as cocci and bad bacteria cannot tolerate. It only takes a small amount of the organic vinegar, one ounce per three gallons, to provide tremendous benefit. Be sure to use only organic, the type with the gunk in the bottom, as it is produced naturally and still contains beneficial bacteria to super-boost the good it does.
Coccidiosis does not have to be a threat to every flock. When it is, be sure to treat quickly and effectively. However, taking just a few simple and sensible steps towards its prevention can help ensure that you will likely never have to treat for coccidiosis again.
Culled from Hogger Farmyard