Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by JumpingChicken, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. JumpingChicken

    JumpingChicken Hatching

    Sep 21, 2012
    Is it better to use medicated or non-medicated starter feed?

  2. Gargoyle

    Gargoyle Crowing

    Apr 13, 2011
    Fox Valley, IL
    My Coop
    Do you free range or do they stay in a confined coop and run? Medicated serves less purpose in the later case.

    That said, people have strong opinions and good reasons for both sides of the debate. I don't think there is a one size fits all definitive answer.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    You really need to look at the label and see what the medicine" in the medicated feed is. In most feeds it is Amprolium which is not an antibiotic, but "most" does not mean all. Since Amprolium is usually the medicine in medicated chicken feed I'll assume Amprolium. If it is something else, what I say will not apply.

    Amprolium in the dosage in chick feed does not treat anything but it will help reduce the chances of coccidiosis being a problem for your chicks. Coccidiosis is caused by a protozoa that lives in the chicks gut. In small amounts this is not a problem, but when the numbers of that protzoa get out of hand, the chicken can get really sick and maybe die. As long as the numbers don't get out of hand the chick will develop immunity to coccidiosis. So the protozoa being present is usually no big deal as long as the brooder or coop and run are kept pretty dry.

    But this protozoa thrives in wet chicken manure. Where most chickens get sick is when they are living in wet conditions, the protozoa multiplies in the wet manure, the chick eats this wet manure (and they will eat it), then the numbers in their gut gets out of hand. So your first defense is to keep the brooder fairly dry. If your brooder, coop, or run are wet, the number of protozoa can get out of hand even if you feed medicated feed with Amprolium. The dosage on medicated feed is fairly weak. It really does help but it is not a substitute for poor management.

    So the first important thing to remember is to keep their area dry. If you do that, you probably won't need medicated feed. It does not hurt them to feed it, they just probably don't really need it.

    The second thing to remember is that they can develop immunity once they are exposed to the protozoa as long as it does not overwhelm them. Younger chicks can develop that immunity easier than older chickens. I take dirt from my run and feed that to them about day three in the brooder so they get exposed and develop that immunity. When they hit the ground they are going to be exposed to the protozoa if it is in your dirt (and if you live in a warm humid area it is probably there). I like them to be immune when they hit the ground. With the dosage in medicated feed, they can develop that immunity. If you feed them antibiotics, they cannot develop that immunity.

    I don't feed medicated feed and coccidiosis has never been a problem. But I proactively expose them and keep the brooder dry enough to keep the numbers under control while they are developing the immunity. There is nothing wrong with feeding it. It won't hurt them. But until they are exposed, they really don't need it.

    To me, it is a personal choice, not a right or wrong answer. If you have a history of problems with coccidiosis, the answer is pretty apparent for you. You need to know the signs of coccidiosis and look out for it, whether you feed medicated feed or not. Remember, they can still get coccidiosis even if you feed the medicated feed.

    Hope this helps a little bit. Good luck whichever way you decide.
    1 person likes this.
  4. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I used to use medicated feed and had coccidiosis problems. Now I don't and don't have coccidiosis problems.

    ??? [​IMG]

    Go figure, LOL! [​IMG]

    So I don't know what to tell you.

  5. marlo1968

    marlo1968 Songster

    Mar 31, 2012
    Lorenzo, TX
    I chose not to feed medicated, all my chicks grew up healthy with no issues and no illnesses. Now they all free range part of the day and are in the hen house and run the other part of the day. Like Ridgerunner said, keep their area clean and dry, most likely they will do quite well by just using the common sense....clean, dry area, clean water, clean feed you'll have healthy and happy chicks
  6. chickencoop789

    chickencoop789 Songster

    Jul 1, 2012
    New Jersey
    I think that there is no reason to use medicated feed if you do everyday cleanings. I didnt use medicated feed when my chickens were chicks. I had ZERO illnesses of any kind and all of them survived. Some people say to use medicated feed in the beginning as a precaution and then gradually switch them over to the non medicated.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by