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Medicated Starter Feed or ??

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by cliffoco, Nov 7, 2015.

  1. cliffoco

    cliffoco Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 2, 2015
    First time raising an egg chicken breed, I have my own eggs ready to hatch in just a few short days! I live in Ottawa, Canada and it is going to be COLD here, so I wanted to raise them indoors for a couple months. My question is being protected from the outside, is it even possible for them to catch Cocci? I think I was reading somewhere that someone did medicated starter for the first month or two and then when he brought his chickens outside they were all ready off the medicated feed and died of Cocci because they never were able to build up an immunity.

    So what should I do!

    They will in a little while be mixed with some older hens
  2. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    You are correct if they are isolated from other chickens and the outdoors the risk of cocci is limited... That isn't to say there is no risk, especially if you have other chickens were there could be some cross contamination from your clothing or what not can happen...

    This is a common error many make in regards to medicated feed, medicated starter feed is much more appropriately used when the chicks are actually exposed to other birds or living conditions where other birds have been previous... The chicks you hatch in hopefully a clean environment and while being brodered indoors face little risk of cocci at that time in there life, but even so medicated feed isn't going to harm them...

    As you suggested it's best to either start or keep them on the medicated feed once they are put outdoors or exposed to other chickens as that is when the cocci risk skyrockets, stopping the medicated feed at this point (as many do) is actually backwards as that is when it provides the biggest benefit to the chicks...

    I personally see no reason to not feed the medicated feed from day one until they are well on their way to being adults as Amprolium is not really a medication it's just a thiamine blocker... A 50lb back of medicated feed goes a long way with only a few chicks, and at least by me there is no price difference between medicated and non-medicated starter...

    When I introduce 'young' birds to the flock I try to keep them isolated in the coop so they can be fed their own ration of medicate feed before I release them fully, and technically Amprolium at the feed level dosage has no egg withdrawal period so you could even feed it to your layers and the chicks for a period of transition time...
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015
  3. cliffoco

    cliffoco Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 2, 2015
    Not worried about the price, just want to keep it as natural as possible. There will be no interaction between me and the other birds, (there at another barn very very far away) but these ones will be mixing with them later on. All there stuff is brand new (brooder box), the only risk is getting it from the shavings and I guess what they already have in them?

    I guess I can just do medicated, no harm?
  4. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    IMO that is the best course of action unless you are totally against any types of medications...

    I don't know what kind of setup your barn has, but wild birds carry cocci and rodents or other animals can cross contaminate from different locations so chances are a barn location is contaminated to some degree... In reality one should always assume cocci it present, it's just a matter of how much exposure the birds are getting....
  5. cliffoco

    cliffoco Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 2, 2015
    These will be grown indoors in a clean never been used (by birds/animals) basement. I am wondering if not using medicated feed would benefit them by actually increasing the amount of cocci (because aren't they born with it?) this way when they do move into the barn they will have more of a immunity? Is that logical? Because It will be hard to separate them in the area they are going once they get there feathers, and I don't want my other hens eating the medicated food.

    I did have a bad case of cocci when I was raising meat hens this year but I think that is because they moved in to where the last batch of meat birds were (with no medicated feed) it resulted in having to use a medication in the water and had to drench 2 who had it really bad. (overall no deaths though!..that is until they were ready)
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2015
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    The assumption is that the medicine in your medicated feed in Canada is Amprolium. It probably is, it almost always is. But I really like to read the label and confirm it is Amprolium. Some people have posted photos of labels where it was something else or Amprolium with something else. Those really are rare but it’s possible.

    Like MeepBeep I consider your concerns legitimate. Since you have had an outbreak of Cocci before, it is in your soil. You need to be careful.

    There are different strains of the bug that causes Cocci. Some are stronger than others, mainly because of what parts of the chicken’s digestive system that specific strain attacks. Some may cause bleeding, some don’t. If exposed to a specific strain a chicken will develop immunity to that strain in two or three weeks. They do not develop immunity to strains they are not exposed to.

    The problem with Cocci is not that the bug is in their system. The problem is when the numbers of that bug get out of hand. Part of that bug’s life cycle includes being in wet soil or water with manure content a couple of days. A typical outbreak occurs when the soil or brooder is wet or the drinking water is dirty. They ingest enough of that bug to really raise the numbers in their system to the danger point. If you keep the water clean and their environment dry they usually don’t have an outbreak. Usually. Part of that depends on how strong that strain is.

    They cannot develop immunity until they are exposed to that bug. The medicated feed does not introduce that bug. Feed medicated with Amprolium does not kill that bug out of their system. Amprolium in the dosage in medicated feed interferes with the reproduction of that bug. It allows a few to reproduce so they can develop immunity but keeps the numbers pretty low. It is still possible chicks on medicated feed can come down with a serious case of Cocci but the medicated feed greatly reduces those chances. You still need to know the symptoms and be ready to treat them as soon as you see symptoms. Cocci can kill.

    The way I handle it is to introduce soil from the run where the adults are the second day they are in the brooder and about twice a week afterwards to introduce that bug. I keep the brooder really dry which means that bug cannot reproduce enough to keep them exposed to the bug long enough to develop immunity, that’s why I give them more dirt from the run on a regular basis. By the time they are out of the brooder and hit the ground, they have been exposed and developed immunity.

    I do not feed medicated feed. I’ve found that by keeping the water clean and the brooder dry I don’t have to. But I agree, feeding Amprolium medicated feed is not harmful. It may be a good precaution for you.

    I found out I have cocci in my soil when I had a broody hen hatch and the weather turned really wet, the run was a muddy mess. Plus I did not keep the water as clean as I should have. Lesson learned, keep the water clean.
  7. cliffoco

    cliffoco Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 2, 2015
    Decided to go for the non-medicated feed, going to keep it really dry and clean :)
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 7, 2012
    You will give your little chickies an advantage if you start building their immune systems right at the start. They have some immunity from their mother, which is strongest within the first 2 weeks and decreases over time. That's when you should be working on giving them a healthy balance of flora in their guts. You can do this by giving them a plug of sod from your yard: (no insecticides/herbicides having been applied to the lawn!). I like to wait until they are eating well, and have full crops, then give them the sod. I lay it in upside down, and they go nuts over it. I'm sure that in addition to picking up lots of beneficial microbes, they find some tasty little bugs, in addition to the greens, good mineral supplements, grit, and they get their first dust bath! I also give my birds of all ages fermented feed. Think of it as feed full of probiotics. Dry feed compares to fermented feed as pasteurized milk compares to yogurt. Super easy to do.

    Cliff, the scenario you paint of chicks being on medicated feed, then going out side and getting coccidiosis is all too common. All the Amprolium does is block Thiamine uptake so the organism can't replicate. (I'm not sure I want Thiamine uptake blocked in my little chickies!) So, they go outside and their little systems get overwhelmed by the cocci which are everywhere, and even present in a healthy chicken's gut (but kept in balance by all of the other healthy flora present). So... give those chickies a healthy gut with balanced flora to start with, while they are in the brooder.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2015

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