What do you do with a sick chicken (coccidiosis)?

May 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Chickens

I noticed today that one of my hens was bleeding rather profusely from her vent. Even worse the other hens were trying to peck at the blood. I decided that she needed to be quarantined to lessen the chance of infecting the rest of the flock, and for her own good so she doesn't get pecked to death. I also found some blood on her egg, and some of her droppings, so I think she has coccidiosis. The plan of action is to first quarantine, then medicate.

She would just stand without moving

Emergency room made from a dog cage

Coccidiosis is an intestinal disease that typically affects younger chicks in the 3 to 6 week range. It can in some instances affect mature birds as well. Coccidosis results from protozoa that populate chickens' intestines. This is typically caused by eating manure in water, feed, or in their litter. It is important not to overcrowd your chickens and make sure there is adequate clean feed and water at all times. I am pretty good about all of the above, as the feeder is in a good place so it is not fouled, and the waterers are sealed nipple waterers. I would guess that she got sick by drinking fouled water, because we have had a lot of rain lately, and I noticed that they will drink out of muddy puddles.

If you are keeping chickens, it is a good idea to have a plan in the event they get sick. I know some chicken keepers that will cull them, rather than go to the expense and time of treatment. I think there is certainly a limit to the amount of time and money I will put into a chicken, but I do not agree with just culling them when they get sick. I have an old dog cage set aside that I use for my makeshift emergency room coop, with a couple of my early experimental chicken run pods. Thankfully I have never used it in the winter, because it is not insulated, and in quarantine she can't use the other chickens body heat for warmth. I would probably move it to the garage if this happened in the winter.

She roosted here, because she couldn't get up on the bar

Crate with straw for nesting

***Update 5-20-2012 I decided to treat the entire flock with a coccidistat called Corid (Amprolium) 20% soluble powder after I found another egg from a different hen with a little blood on it. This is actually labeled for cattle, so I cannot tell you to use this. I can only say that, this is what I used, and it worked. I really thought that the chicken I quarantined was going to die. She was listless, wouldn't eat, and would barely drink. She would not get up on her roosting bar at night, and would sleep much later than normal. I am happy to report that after 3 days of treatment, she is doing much better. She is back with the flock, and is eating and drinking. She is still a little sick with runny droppings, but she is really improving. I will treat all the water with amprolium for 6 days.

The dosage I used was ½ of a teaspoon per gallon of water. It is important to only give them access to treated water during the treatment time, and treat for 5-7 days. Also, corid has different forms of amprolium that call for different treatment amounts. I used the 20% soluble powder. I have read that the eggs are still safe to eat, but I am disposing of the eggs during the treatment period and 4 days after.

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