2 1/2 week old chick passing blood lethargic is tetracylcine correct????


In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 21, 2013
Hi, I'm new to BackYard Chickens and to chickens in general! We started with seven chicks. They're now between 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 weeks old. One died within 24 hours of getting her home, the others have all been fine until this morning when I discovered drops of blood in the pine shavings in their brooder box. Two days ago I noticed that one chick seemed ruffly, was pecking at her feathers, and had loose reddish stools. I called the feed store and he said he's been raising/selling chickens for years. He said to use electrolytes but not to worry because coccidiosis hasn't been seen in our area (Denver, CO) in years. (I bought the sick chick from a different store.)

However, this morning I discovered the blood. I figured out it was the same chick. I isolated her and cleaned everything, but she's been sleeping, lethargic, not eating or drinking all day. It's a Sunday and the feed store I purchased them from was closed. I called the only feed store in the area I could find that was open and they told me I needed to put the entire flock on antibiotics immediately. Two people who worked there (who said they have tons of experience with chickens) gave me tetracycline hydrochloride.

I've been dipping the sick one's beak in the water (has the antibiotic and electrolyte powders in it) but she's since passed more blood, frothy diarrhea, and black tarry diarrhea. She hasn't moved from one spot in hours and won't drink/eat on her own.

We've read a ton and have been very careful with these chicks! We started at 90-95 degrees and have been dropping 5 degrees weekly (with enough space for them to choose their desired temperature), clean out litter every other day, check/clean waterer and feeder several times a day. They're on a medicated chick starter and chick grit and I've been putting eletrolyte + probiotic powders in their water since we got them.

Help! I'm worried the tetracycline isn't right for this and I'm confused b/c when I look online coccidiosis seems to match the symptoms. But experienced sellers in my area either haven't seen it in years or recommend tetracycline.

Thanks for any advice!
I definitely believe it to be coccidia. Coccidiosis is common worldwide. I never heard of a place without it.
I wouldn't use an antibiotic, rather get some corrid or amprolium right away.
The problem with the antibiotic is you don't have a diagnosis of any bacterial infection that it would treat and will just stress the bird more.
The best defense against coccidia is keeping the bedding bone dry and the feeders at least half full.

What vet school did these feed store people go to? What bacterial infection did they test positive for that requires an antibiotic?
I have a friend that went to vet school in Ft. Collins and said there is coccidia there so why wouldn't it be in Denver?
Feed store employees are very reliable at knowing where the feed is stored.

I missed the point that they are on medicated feed so you don't want to overdose the amprolium so if you end up giving the chicks a dosage, switch them to unmedicated feed.
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Thank you for your help! This morning I called the feed store that originally told me there's no coccidiosis in the area. I talked to someone different, who told me it DID sound like coccidiosis. He agreed with the feed store I went to yesterday that tetracycline is what they give for it. ???? I said that I'd read online to give Corid or amprolium. He said no, they don't sell that but to use tetracycline. He conferred with the person there who breeds their chicks and he also agreed.

By the way, this feed store has a great reputation. I'm so confused now.

In the meantime, I've been putting her beak in the medicated/electrolyte water every hour or so to get some fluids into her. No more straight blood since last night, now it's occasional black or frothy diarrhea. She's still sleeping a lot and not eating/drinking but definitely more energetic than yesterday.

I have the other chicks separated from her and I've got the tetra/electrolytes in their water, too....

The litter is very dry. Colorado is so insanely arid that even without all my cleaning and precautions it would be really hard to have wet litter.

Thanks SO much for your help! I'm worried about this little chick and hope she makes it and the others stay healthy.
I'm painfully aware how arid Colorado is from many ski trips there.

Treatment is 1 tsp. Amprolium 20% per gallon of water for 5 days. Antibiotic treatment would guard against secondary infection so might not be all bad. Then follow treatment with the vitamins and electrolytes. They'll especially need vitamins A and K since sulfa drugs are K inhibitors.
It's possible it is something else but the symptoms point to cocci at that age.
Update: the chick turned the corner Tuesday night. She started eating and drinking and bloody stool disappeared. She was improving until yesterday, when she kind of went back to huddling under the heat lamp or just lying around not eating or drinking much. (She still does eat and drink some.) She tried to fly over a divider we'd put up into the brooder to be near her "sisters," so we put her with them and have been watching closely for signs of pecking or other sick chicks. So far none of either. No bloody poop, but I have seen her "poop" clear liquid and a wet liquid with what looked like a white string in it. She looks sort of puffy, like her head is drawn back into her neck, even though she's lost weight and is definitely more frail. I felt her crop area and I don't really know what I'm feeling for--it just feels like protruding bones. She's so frail.

She's been on tetracycline and electrolytes (they all have) since Sunday. I called a THIRD feed store in my area and they also agreed to give tetracycline.

Ugh. Any other advice on how to help this poor chick???

Thank you!
She needs Corid or Sulmet but the corid is easier on them. It is a cow drug. Give 5ml per gallon of water. She is puffed because she is sick. I would treat all because usually if one has it the others will. I have never heard of an antibotic for treating cocci. I have had chicks with cocci and this is how I treat. If you are feeding medicated feed that is probably the only thing that has kept her going this long but it is not enough to treat her. She will die if you dont treat her. Dont give them medicated feed when treating with Corid.
You don't want to double dose with the feed.

There are several feed stores around here with a great reputation but that is for their friendly helpful disposition and the array and quality of their products. None have that reputation for their veterinary knowledge.
I don't mean to disparage all feed store people and there may be one here and there that is extremely knowledgeable in that area but I wouldn't bet any money on finding one.
In my experience most don't even know how to feed animals and they sell the feed. They may sell meds too but they've never been trained how to administer or what they treat.
Thank you to everyone who's responded here. Unfortunately, the chick died this morning. I've now lost 2 (one died within 24 hrs of arriving home, with no signs other than listlessness). I have five remaining and I'm very concerned I will lose them, too--although at this point they're all healthy and perky, eating their medicated feed, with no signs of illness at all.

I have called FIVE feed stores in my area and I've talked to managers/farmers who raise their own chickens and/or breed chickens, and while they now think it IS coccidiosis, none of them even sells Corid, amprolium or Sulmet. They all recommend tetracycline. I have finally found two VETS who treat poultry and am waiting to hear back to see what they say. If they don't recommend Corid, I might just order online and dose using the recommendations I'm getting here and in my chicken health books.

Also, the most recent manager I talked to said coccidiosis is on the rise, and that mixing chicks from different stores can be a part of the problem. (I did buy chicks from two stores and mix the flock.) Do you think that's accurate? If so, I sure wish I'd known it earlier.

Thank you so much for your help and advice. I've tried to be meticulous about cleanliness. This is very frustrating to say the least.
Coccidia is everywhere. It's unavoidable other than limiting the amount of exposure till they develop immunity. That's why so many people routinely feed medicated for up to 16 weeks of age.
Please do tell us what the vets say.
If they are an avain vet with poultry experience they'll know that antibiotics have little effect, except as I said, to prevent a secondary infection. Secondary bacterial infection is common with a bad case of coccidiosis.
Since you've given antibiotics it will be important to get some probiotics in them. Plain yogurt works.
Here is some good info.



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