Baby Chicks who will be added to existing flock- Medicated or non-medicated feed?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by cgray111, Mar 21, 2017.

  1. cgray111

    cgray111 Just Hatched

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    So we have 5 one year old chickens and are getting 3 new chicks this week. Last time around we did non-medicated chick starter. After the fact I had read in the book I had that medicated feed was the recommendation to allow the chicks to build up immunity and exposure to coccidiosis in the soil. I feed my current chickens organic layer pellets.

    When I went today to pick up medicated chick starter the feed store told me the chicks are vaccinated against Marek's and come form a coccidia free hatchery and it is unnecessary to use medicated feed and that will mess with their gut flora. So the opinions I'm getting are conflicting.

    What have you guys done? I think I was under the impression that my newer chickens will be more susceptible to coccidia when we integrate them, which I'm not planning to do until 12 weeks when they are big enough to be around bigger birds. Looking for your recommendations.
     
  2. Pyxis

    Pyxis Dark Sider Premium Member

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    If the chicks have been vaccinated against coccidiosis, you should not use a medicated feed. It would cancel out the vaccine. That's because it's not a real vaccine - they've been infected with cocci by being fed it, just a strain that's usually less dangerous. The idea is that they will gain immunity to worse strains by having to fight off the less dangerous one they were fed and infected with. Feeding them medicated would kill that off before they can do that and thus leave them unprotected.

    However, if it's just Marek's that they're vaccinated for, then the feed store is confused. That provides no protection against coccidiosis. If you have a high cocci load in your area and are worried about them becoming infected, then by all means use medicated, it won't hurt anything. I personally don't, but that's because my area has a very low cocci load.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2017
  3. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Feed the chicks unmedicated starter. Then, when they are ready to move outside, you can switch them to medicated for a week or two, just to be sure they have a bit of protection while they adjust to the types of coccidia in your local soil. Integrating actually is much easier if you start while the chicks are still quite young. Under 8 weeks of age, the adults don't really see them as threats to the pecking order and are more tolerant of younger chicks. I start integrating chicks are just 4 weeks. And by the time they are 8 weeks old, are fully integrated into the adult flock and sleeping in the main coop. A few weeks of the chicks living in a separate, but adjacent, enclosure makes things go very smoothly.
     
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  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    It makes no difference if the hatchery is cocci free or not. I don't believe it's transferred via egg, so the hens could have a huge load and the chicks still be fine.

    It's present in soil, and can vary from one area to another. Thrives in warm, wet environments. You don't have your area listed, so we can't advise based on that. Folks farther north, where it's cold and dry, have less issue with it than folks in the warm, humid south.

    Integration itself has nothing to do with your littles being exposed, they don't get it from the other birds so much. It's when they hit the soil, whenever that may be. It's why a lot of us put bits of sod or soil in the brooder, to allow them to start developing exposure to it gradually and develop immunity.

    I've done both medicated and non. I'm in a decently high risk area for cocci, so I'm not opposed to using medicated feed. I've also feed non-medicated, and done okay for the most part. I just keep an eye on chicks once they move to the grow out pen and have Corid on hand if needed.
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Cocci are a natural flora in the chicken gut. It's only when they become more numerous than the good flora that the chicken gets sick. The medication they put in the starter is Amprolium. It is a thiamine blocker. The Cocci protozoan needs this to replicate. Whether you use medicated feed or not is a matter of personal choice. There is no right or wrong answer regarding the choice to medicate or not. But, what I urge you to do is read up on the subject, and make your own informed decision.

    After doing my homework, I chose to not use medicated feed. And I do not vaccinate for Marek's dz. or any other disease. What I do is provide my birds with an uncrowded environment. When raising chicks, I see to it that my adult flock has the best nutrition I can give them which includes fermented feed, supplemental vitamins, and during the winter, sprouted grains. That way my chicks are hatched from eggs that have good strong membranes, and the yolk is packed with good nutrition for the developing embryo. I further enhance the immunity of my chicks, whether they are hatched on site, or shipped by providing them with a plug of sod from my yard within the first 2 weeks of hatch when they have the highest level of antibodies provided by their mothers.

    My flock lives in a coop with deep litter bedding, and their winter run/sunroom, as well as their year round run is covered with deep litter. DL fosters growth of beneficial organisms which further populate the chicken's guts with good flora. Those beneficial organisms in the litter help to destroy any pathogens that may be present. The DL also attracts beneficial insects that help to keep any external or internal parasites in check.
     
  6. cgray111

    cgray111 Just Hatched

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    Thanks everyone for your responses. Very helpful and makes a lot of sense. For those of you who add soil to the brooder, how much and when do you typically start. Also when is the first time you let them roam outside in the soil? 8 weeks or sooner?
     
  7. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    It's not just soil. You dig up a whole chunk of grass, and try not to lose too much dirt on the way to the brooder. My chicks start going out at 2 or 3 weeks, weather permitting, and are outside full time by 4 weeks.
     

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