Am I suppose to vaccinate my chicks? Medicated feed?


Nothing In Moderation
12 Years
May 14, 2009
(SW MO) Nevada, Missouri
My Coop
My Coop
My chicks are 5 weeks old. They are healthy and thriving. I feed Purina medicated chick starter. Am I suppose to vaccinate them? What about the medicated feed? I want to ensure their health, but am unsure on this. Thanks, in advance. Kathy
That's a personal decision.
Just keep reading all you can about those things you can vaccinate for, and see what the pros and cons are. Then you can make an educated decision for your flock.

Again with the medicated feed...some feel it's not necessary at all. Others swear by it. The medicated portion of the feed is to help prevent coccidiosis. All chickens are susceptible to cocci. Just try to read what you can about it, and see if it's right for your flock.

Best of luck with your decisions, and sorry I can't be of more help.
On the medicated food, they're about at the end of that run. You can switch them to non-medicated at six weeks. That's a standard time for going to a grower ration for laying chicks.

Whether or not to deviate from the standard medicated food and go with organic food is a difficult choice for some people. The term "medicated" seems to have a negative connotation for many, being associated with antibiotics and the antibiotic resistances and sensitivities that seem to rampant in our modern world.

However, first we must understand what "medicated" means. There can be antibiotic medicated food, and that medicated with the anti-protazoal chemical amprolium. Antibacterial specifically acts against pathogenic bacteria and honestly, in my humble opinion, shouldn't be used by the backyard poultry fancier. This is more appropriate for large-scale poultry houses.

The standard fare for a growing chick under six weeks old is medicated with Amprolium. Amprolium is not an antibiotic, has no effect on bacteria, and cannot cause any sort of resistance in birds nor in humans. It's quite effective at its job.

But do you want to use it? Let's take a close look at both amprolium medicated and non-medicated "organic" feeds.

Personally, unless a person is pretty experienced with poultry, I always recommend medicated. Chicks can still get coccidiosis because the amprolium levels in medicated starter are designed to have it act as a coccidiostat. Coccidiostats only kill regular levels of cocci, the protazoa that cause coccidiosis. However, over the last few years it seems that many experienced poultry owners' chicks are STILL getting coccidiosis despite the medication in their feed. I'm wondering if there isn't a resistance to it forming. Another thread, another day. So we keep Corid around for the babies. It's amprolium, too, but a stronger dosage designed to act as a cocciocide - a substance that kills all protazoa rather than just hampering.

Amprolium medicated food is a safe bet. It's a necessity for new chick owners.

On the other hand, you have organic starters. Organic starters are designed so that rather than using chemicals, they use a base of live bacteria ("Probiotics") to do the job of preventing overblooms of cocci. This is what bacteria do for a bird - among other things. It's a fine feed for a very experienced poultry person who knows how to keep a brood and how to recognize the very earliest signs of coccidiosis. (Blood is not this - that's the last signs of coccidiosis.)

However, the drawback to organic feeds is that the living bacteria that comprise the probiotics die off if the feed is kept in warm conditions, kept too long on the shelf, and when the feed is exposed to light during the day. Because of that, the smart poultryman raising a brood on organics will use a backup probiotic every day for the first few days and weekly thereafter for at least the first six weeks. There are so many benefits to probiotics that it's a remarkable investment in a flock's health - for so little dollars!

As there seem to be more and more cases of coccidiosis even on medicated foods (though admittedly way fewer), the wise poultryman using medicated foods will also use the probiotic regimine with their new chicks.

The reason is that all chicks are born with little to no bacteria in their digestive tract. The area is "first come first serve", and normally chicks would peck at their mothers first - even sometimes before eating from the ground. They ingest her droppings and thus her good bacteria. Then the bacteria sets up camp in their own guts, "colonizing" the gut. They crowd out bad bacteria, create enzymes that digest food and ward off E. coli blooms, create vitamins (especially B vitamins) that nourish the bird, and.... best of all.... help the gut stay more strong against protazoal attacks. Yes!

So - the decision really depends on a few factors:

Are you a very experienced poultry person, having raised a few flocks from hatch or day one?
Are you quite versed at telling coccidiosis before real symptoms present themselves?
Is it worth the risk, when organic feeding programs can begin after six weeks?

If you say yes to all three questions, then organic might be for you. But in either situation, please establish the foundation for your birds' digestive health for the rest of their lives and provide probiotics in those important first weeks. There's NO resisting the good bacteria by bad bacteria - and just like a house, the foundation you build will determine the success of your future.

Good luck with your babies!
question is where did you obtain your chicks from? I know when I got my chicks at 1 week of age (I have 6 that are now nearly 16 months old) they were vaccinated when I got them against some things and not against others (I believe they were vaccinated for Mareks and one other thing...). We did put them on medicated feed until they surprisingly began laying at a very early age (15 weeks) - then we started with layer/grower non-medicated feed from there on out. We always knew we would not medicate them (meaning medicated feed only) once they began laying but would up until that point of lay just for the reasons listed previously.

Since they've been laying, they have been fully organic - and non-medicated - up until 15 days ago when we had to worm them. Are they still organic in my eyes? Yep - because it wasnt antibiotics, it was a wormer. Did I like doing it to them? No... but they are my responsibility and my pets, so I must keep them healthy at all costs. If I have to give them an antibiotic down the line - I will do that as well if it means their lives will be saved - but I will try every other method first (organic/homeopathic) before I resolve myself to standard antibiotics.

Good luck and keep us posted on how they're doing!
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