Understanding Coccidiosis

Coccidiosis is a disease caused by a parasite that affects the gut wall of chickens. The parasite lives in the gut and is transferred to others chickens when it is released through faeces from an iinfected chicken in the form of a cyst.

The cycle of infection continues when it’s then eaten by another chicken thus spreading the disease. Depending on the number of cysts eaten a chicken may not be affected especially if they are few. If too many are eaten the chicken will succumb to Coccidiosis.

Early signs of Coccidiosis include loss of appetite among the flock which eventually stop eating. They then become hunched over with ruffled feathers. The damage to the gut wall reduces the ability of the gut to absorb nutrients resulting in weight loss and diarrhea with bloody chicken droppings.

The best way of preventing the disease is by poultry farmers ensuring that chickens are exposed to very low levels of the disease (oocysts) as well as building their immunity. Chicken pens should be cleaned well and extremely thoroughly between flocks. If a pen is not cleaned properly after the flock leaves the pen then the next flock is exposed to high levels of Coccidiosis.

Poultry farmers with infected birds can treat them using an anti-coccidial medication which prevents the spread of the disease. If the disease is already in the gut then farmers should treat their birds using a strong antibiotic therapy. Ensure that the flock has access to multivitamins and pro-biotic.

In order for one to guard their flock from any outbreaks that in most cases result into immense losses, experts advice farmers to embrace high standards of hygiene by ensuring that the poultry pen is kept clean and dry. In addition, disinfect the pen regularly; ensure good ventilation in and around the pen.

A vaccine is available commercially, however its administration can be complex and needs the correct environment to work, realistically this is not currently practical for backyard chicken holdings.