Coccidiosis in Poultry

Coccidiosis is a disease which affects many species of animal, It can have serious animal welfare consequences, it is particularly problematic in poultry.  

Coccidia are microscopic single-celled parasites (called protozoa)  Coccidia live within cells and are usually found in the intestinal tract.  There are over 11 sub species which affect Poultry.

The disease is more common in young birds, it usually strikes chickens up to 12 weeks of age. Older birds develop immunity to the infection from previous mild exposure

Signs of the Coccidiosis

Infected birs appear ill, dull and lifeless; they will stand hunched up with ruffled feathers with their wings dropped and eyes closed.  They dont eat or drink and lose weight.  The stools may be blood stained or contain red coloured jelly like worms.

Death rates from the disease are around 50% if not treated; 

Treatment

There is a range of drugs available for the successful treatment of the disease. These require a prescription and should be used as per veterinary advice to achieve the best results. Treatment should be instigated early when the infection is suspected to reduce mortality and prevent spread.

Prevention

Medicated feed is generally considered one of the best preventative measures against coccidiosis. This can be fed throughout the rearing period and replaced with a standard pellet just before the point of lay or slaughter, paying careful attention to the withdrawal period associated with medicated feed if this is used.

Good husbandry is also an essential part of prevention; correct stocking rates, dry bedding, good ventilation and cleanliness of feeders and drinkers will all help to hinder development of the parasites. Rearing chicks on wire racks to reduce soiling and good husbandry and dissinfection will all help. Overcrowding should be addressed with carefull attention to stocking levels and the cleanliness of water and feeding areas.

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