Medicated vs. Non-Medicated Chick Feed


As if there weren’t enough variations of chick feed on the market, there is one more option to consider: medicated or nonmedicated? Medicated chick feeds help boost chicks’ immunity to one organism: coccidia.

Coccidia are a parasitic protozoan widely found in the soil, and its oocysts, which are similar to eggs, often find their way into a chick’s digestive tract. Here the intestinal parasites can cause a disease called coccidiosis.

Symptoms include bloody droppings, poor appetite, and lack of normal growth. Chicks may fluff up their feathers and appear hunched over. Coccidiosis spreads quickly from bird to bird and is also associated with a high rate of death.

Most medicated chick feeds contain amprolium, a medication that helps limit the number of coccidia in a chick’s digestive system, allowing the chick to develop immunity to the parasite. Medicated feeds with amprolium do not contain antibiotics and are not intended for other diseases.

Also, medicated feeds are designed to prevent cases of coccidiosis, not to cure existing infections: By the time chicks actually contract the disease, medicated feed will not help them. If your birds do get sick, they should be treated with a water-based coccidiostat (like Corid), carefully following instructions on the package. Be careful not to overmedicate with coccidiostats because they can cause severe vitamin deficiencies in your birds.

Vaccine for Coccidiosis

Many chicks receive a coccidiosis vaccine at hatcheries. Find out if your chicks have been vaccinated for coccidiosis. If so, there is no need to give them medicated feed.

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