Chick Starter...medicated or not??!!


8 Years
Apr 28, 2011
AGH! I pick my first chicks ever up on Tuesday and STILL cannot decide to feed medicated or not!! I really would like to be organic, and do have access to organic starter and feed, but am worried about coccidiosis. However, I'm not sure if I SHOULD be worried about coccidiosis
! I am a worry wart though and will find things to worry about or make things up to worry about. Anyways, I'm in Northeast OH and it has been very warm and very damp here for what seems like forever. Since it is warm, when it dries out (if it ever does!) I would like to let the chicks out to explore, etc (supervised) as soon as possible. So I'd like to hear from all you experienced chick raisers your opinions on whether or not I should feed medicated or non-medicated.

Thanks for the link! Makes me lean towards medicated as we do have quite a few wild birds around.

I'm getting so excited, I can hardly stand it!!!!
I use medicated until they have been out on the ground for a couple of weeks as all their distant cousins have been there. Who knows what new bacteria, etc they encounter when there. After that, I switch to non-medicated as the youngsters and adults will share food.

When only one flock, I have used medicated starter grower right to the change over to layer at about 16-18 weeks. No problems either.
My very first set of chicks, I tried to raise organically and skipped the medicated feed. Boy was that a mistake! I lost half of them from coccidiosis! It was devastating! It spread like wild fire. They all had bloody diarrhea and died quite rapidly before I could get it under control. I will never do that again!
OMG that is terrible! Thank you for sharing, that must have been so upsetting
Coccdia(sp) is devastating to the flock. It's everywhere. I use medicated feed.

I even keep Sulmet to treat the disease in the cupboard in case of an emergency.
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I say medicated! I have lost chicks on non-medicated starter, that were still inside my house from cocci. I apparently brought it in to them
It is heartbreaking. I will never use non-medicated again. I have heard the same story over and over again.
Most hen-raised birds on free range never get cocci so it can be done free of meds. But for a first timer raising artificially, medicated feed will at least cut down the cocci risk while you're thinking through the way to go in future. I've raised both with and without meds and either way has pitfalls.

For instance over time you can get coccidiostat resistance with the meds. I know people who've relied on meds so heavily (usually because they raise high numbers of birds) they have completely resistant coccidia and have to also use coccidiocides (i.e. to treat active cocci, not just prevent it). They do all this and raise birds on wire and still have losses when they put birds on the ground. Don't ever let anyone tell you coccidiostats are foolproof.

Then again it's hard to control exposure while birds develop resistance naturally. A simple thing like sudden rain or a few days' too long on one patch of soil when tractoring can make all the difference and birds go down. That's why, while I reduce or avoid coccidiostats in favour of management, I also keep a coccidiocide on hand. That's a matter of learning to pick the earliest signs, and that too (watchfulness) has to be part of managing against cocci.

None of this probably applies for those clever people who have a lot of land, few day-predators and good broodies... Nothing is as robust as chicks raised on free range.


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