New chick owner, medicated or non medicated starter feed?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by NewChickieOwner, Apr 22, 2016.

  1. NewChickieOwner

    NewChickieOwner New Egg

    Apr 19, 2016
    New chick owner here, actually they aren't here yet....and I don't know what feed to use. I have read pros and cons for both. I've seen advice saying non medicated and add small amounts of the dirt from the eventual run to slowly allow immunity to build. Any opinions? :)
  2. 0wen

    0wen Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2016
    Southwest Virginia
    If your chicks aren't vaccinated against coccidiosis I would feed them medicated starter. I always buy a bad of it and feed it until it's out (it usually lasts until the chicks are old enough to switch to a grower feed that they'll basically be eating until they start laying). Just like your research, you'll likely get differing opinions on this thread about which to go with - but I would (and I do) start them on a medicated feed.
  3. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    As the above poster said, you will get different opinions on which is best, but I'm a firm believer in "prevention is better than cure". Keep the brooder clean and dry, feed a good quality medicated starter as a preventative and introduce soil from outside at some stage to build up their immune systems.

    Here's some reading for you, if you're interested, in raising chicks, feeding, etc.
    1 person likes this.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Yes, you will get different opinions. That’s normal for about any topic on here, there are always so many different ways to go on almost everything with chickens. I consider whether you use medicated feed a personal decision. I don’t use it but I also don’t see anything wrong with people using it if they wish. If you have a history of Coccidiosis it can be a good idea. I wrote this a while back for another thread but maybe it has enough information in it so you can make an informed decision, not only on whether to use it or not but how to use it effectively if you decide to use it.

    Good luck!

    First you need to know what the "medicated" is in the medicated feed. It should be on the label. Usually it is Amprolium, Amprol, some such product, but until you read the label, you really don't know. Every "medicated' feed I'm aware of from major brands for chicks that will be layers uses Amprolium, but people on this forum that I trust have posted hat some feeds for broilers have things other than Amprolium. I'll assume it is an Amprolium product, but if it is not, then realize everything I say about it may not apply. And it is possible that the "medicated" is Amprolium AND something else.

    Amprol is not an antibiotic. It does not kill anything. It inhibits the protozoa that cause coccidiosis (often called Cocci on this forum) from multiplying in the chicken's system. It does not prevent the protozoa from multiplying; it just slows that multiplication down. There are several different strains of protozoa that can cause Cocci, some more severe than others. Chickens can develop immunity to a specific strain of the protozoa, but that does not give them immunity to all protozoa that cause Cocci. Little bitty tiny baby chicks can develop that immunity easier than older chickens.

    It is not a big deal for the chicken’s intestines to contain some of the protozoa that cause Cocci. The problem comes in when the number of those protozoa gets huge. The protozoa can multiply in the chicken’s intestines but also in wet manure. Different protozoa strains have different strengths, but for almost all cases, if you keep the brooder dry, you will not have a problem.

    To develop immunity to a specific strain, that protozoa needs to be in the chicks intestines for two or three weeks. The normal sequence is that a chick has the protozoa. It poops and some of the cysts that develop the protozoa come out in the poop. If the poop is slightly damp, those cysts develop and will then develop in the chick's intestines when the chicks eat that poop. This cycle needs go on for a few weeks so all chicks are exposed and they are exposed long enough to develop immunity. A couple of important points here. You do need to watch them to see if they are getting sick. And the key is to keep the brooder dry yet allow some of the poop to stay damp. Not soaking wet, just barely damp. Wet poop can lead to serious problems.

    What sometimes happens is that people keep chicks in a brooder and feed them medicated feed while they are in the brooder. Those chicks are never exposed to the Cocci protozoa that lives in the dirt in their run, so they never develop the immunity to it. Then, they are switched to non-medicated feed and put on the ground where they are for the first time exposed to the protozoa. They do not have immunity, they do not have the protection of the medicated feed, so they get sick. Feeding medicated feed while in the brooder was a complete waste.

    I do not feed medicated feed. I keep the brooder dry to not allow the protozoa to breed uncontrollably. The third day that they are in the brooder, I take a scoop of dirt from the run and feed it to them so I can introduce the protozoa and they can develop the immunity they need to the strain they need to develop an immunity to. To provide a place for that slightly damp poop, I keep a square of plywood in the dry brooder and let the poop build up on that. I don't lose chicks to Cocci when they hit the ground.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeding medicated feed to chicks, whether the protozoa are present or not. It will not hurt them. They can still develop the immunity they need. But unless the protozoa are present, it also does no good.

    If you get your chicks vaccinated for Cocci, do not feed medicated feed. It can negate the vaccinations.
    2 people like this.
  5. Folly's place

    Folly's place True BYC Addict

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Another issue is that you will have no idea if your soil has coccidia, or how contaminated it might be. The medicated feed might save your chicks from overwhelming infection, or not be needed at all, depending. Some of us have never had problems, and others have lost birds to this parasite. You won't know at your location, so feeding medicated starter is safest. As RR says, feeding it as the chicks are exposed to your environment is crucial. Mary
  6. NewChickieOwner

    NewChickieOwner New Egg

    Apr 19, 2016
    Thank you all for the great info!

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