What is Coccidia in Chickens and Goats?
Coccidia in chickens and goats, if left untreated can be very dangerous.
Coccidia otherwise known as cocci or coccidious is an internal parasite that can affect all species. Coccidia can be found in the dirt, fecal matter, pretty much anywhere outside that your animals will definitely be touching.
You would think that with how widespread coccidia can be that it would be a simple thing right? Wrong! Coccidia, although by definition (it is a single cell protoza) is a simple organism how it affects animals is not simple at all.
First, there are a multitude of types of Coccidia. To make things more difficult, Coccidia are species specific. This means that the 10 (yes, 10!) types of Coccidia that affect goats will not affect chickens.
And, also, that the 9 types of Coccidia that affect chickens will not affect goats or any other species.
Of course, each of these different types of Coccidia will have different levels and slightly different types of infection in their host species. For more details on Coccidia’s life cycle, check out this article.
Whew! So, you are probably thinking Coccidia in chickens and goats may be a hard thing to manage, identify and treat, right? Not necessarily true (thanks goodness!)
How to Identify Coccidia in Chickens and Goats:
Coccidia can be present and affecting your chickens and/or goats without you noticing. A low grade infection or overload of Coccidia can cause decreased appetite and decreased production (milk for goats, eggs for chickens). Additionally, a low grade overload may also just cause your goats or chickens to act a little “off”.
The really dangerous load of Coccidia is when you start to see obvious signs. In goats, you will see lethargy, anemia, dehydration and diarrhea (in addition to the low grade signs).
In chickens, you can see all the same signs as you see with goats. A tell-tale sign of Coccidia in chickens is bloody diarrhea.
In order to positively identify Coccidia in chickens and goats, you can collect a fecal and have your vet run a test on the fecal sample.
As you may expect given that coccidia is present in dirt, all animals will usually have some level of coccidia in their systems. If you run a fecal on an adult goat you may find a few coccidia and this is considered normal and not cause for concern.
It is when the fecal is covered in coccidia and/or your animal is also showing the signs and symptoms mentioned above that you need to be concerned and start treatment.
Due to the fact that all animals will usually have some level of coccidia normally, it is important to watch them during times of extra stress as this can be a time when the coccidia will take over and become an issue.
How to Treat Coccidia in Chickens and Goats:
**Please note, this is how WE treat our animals based on experience and advice from our vet. It should NOT substitute for actual veterinary advice if you have a sick animal**
To Treat Coccidia in Chickens:
We treat them with Corid in their water. We simply follow the instructions on the bottle.
Corid (as well as being sick) can zap B vitamins from your chickens, so after (NOT during) the dose of Corid we like to give them a vitamin and electrolyte supplement.
If they are really sick, it is also a good idea to separate them (leaving them with at least one buddy to decrease stress if possible). Very weak birds may need some help eating and drinking – we have syringed water sometimes to get them going.
To Treat Coccidia in Goats:
We use Albon (which we purchase from our vet). It is a simple oral medication that they get for a few days. Di-methox is another medication used to treat Coccidia in goats.
In addition to the Albon (or other medication recommended by your vet), we make sure that the goat is getting separated to eat on their own (so they don’t have to fight for food). We also give Probios to keep their tummy healthy.
For goat kids, you can also put them on a coccidia preventative. Find out more about goat kid care and goat breeding in the Goat Breeding Planner.
Have you experienced Coccidia in your chickens or goats? How did you treat them?