Friday, 18 July 2014

A dose of coccidiosis

I moved the latest batch of chicks to the chickhouse on the allotment about 10 days ago and after a week, I let them out of it to become free range. Though small, they were big enough to fend for themselves against the adult birds. The next day, on opening up the chick house in the morning to release them, I spotted that there was blood in their faeces.

Back home I checked through our chicken-keeping manuals and found that the symptoms fitted coccidiosis. This is a single cell parasite that can invade the gut of young birds. In most cases older chickens have built up an immunity to it. To cure them, I have bought a medicine which contains 3.84% Amprolium Hydrochloride. A small dose (7ml) was added to a litre of water. The chicks have had to be confined to the chickhouse again so that they are drinking only the medicated water and so that the other hens cannot drink it.

The treatment will continue to Monday though they have responded well. There has been no more blood in their poo though sadly, one of the chicks has died, a cream legbar cockerel. He was much thinner than the others so the illness for him was terminal. Once the treatment is finished, the chicks will be able to go free range again.

I think the parasites were picked up when the chicks were in the chick run in the back garden. The origin was probably wild bird droppings but there was a time when the run got damp due to a burst of rain. We also think that it is better to move the birds at a younger age to the allotment in future. What has stopped us previously from taking them over at a young age is their vulnerability to vermin. We have solved that now. The quail house is vermin proof. Young chicks will go into there until they are an appropriate size to go free range.

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