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To Medicate or Not To Medicate is the question I ask of thee....

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by sarahs31, Jul 3, 2008.

  1. sarahs31

    sarahs31 In the Brooder

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    Apr 20, 2008
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    Aaaaarrrgh. We've gotten 75 meat birds and now I'm worried. I know this question has been asked numerous times but...I'm leaning towards the "safe" side bird-wise and feeding medicated starter...but then I feel that I really can't tell my friends and family that they are free-range, antibiotic free, hormone free birds can I? How do you organics do it? Do you have a problem with Cocci?
     
  2. me&thegals

    me&thegals Songster

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    Hey, sistah [​IMG] We've never once used medication. Except for initial losses in our first batch of babies more than a year ago, we have only lost 1-2 birds (I think) to apparent illness. One of those was stuck in the feeder, poor baby [​IMG] Anyway, I'm thinking that, like people, lots of fresh air, sunshine, exercise and good food, plenty of space will keep them healthy!

    Would love to hear what the more experienced farmers think!
     
  3. sarahs31

    sarahs31 In the Brooder

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    Apr 20, 2008
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    I'm with you on the sunshine, fresh air and food. I think I'll skip the exercise, thank you very much!
     
  4. greyfields

    greyfields Crowing

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    Quote:Coccidiostats are all consdiered "antibiotics" by the USDA and FDA; even though the mechanism isn't exactly an antibiotic.

    Growth hormones in poultry are banned in the US, so you can say they are hormone free.

    Quote:I raise, market and sell atntibiotic free chicken meat. Here is what I do:

    a) I don't raise Cornish Crosses.
    b) I do not give them medicated feeds.
    c) When birds get sick with Cocci, I let them die.
    d) Try to keep them on clean grass, although oocysts are everywhere in my environment so this is only buying peace of mind rather than actual prevention.

    Since switching to FR's, I lose maybe 0-4 per 50 to cocci.


    Quote:I've lost goats and chickens to cocci where I live. It is highly regional and we would need to know more about your climate. Where it gets stupid hot in the summer or stupidly cold in the winter, oocysts do not persist in the soil for very long.

    In the long term, the only sustainable solution is to breed your own birds from other birds which showed no ill effects even though you knew they were exposed to coccidiossis.

    The "middle ground" approach is to not use a medicated feed, then treat them if they do indeed get sick using a sulfa drug in their drinking water. You would have to change your marketing, but at least you gave it a fair shake.
     
  5. greyfields

    greyfields Crowing

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    Quote:If only that were true. :\\

    Either it's in your soil and you will struggle, or it doesnt' even exist. A lot of organic books are written by people who claim no problems with cocci due to pasture rotation. A lot of it is self-fulfilling, though. They live in places where cocci is rare to begin with.
     
  6. sarahs31

    sarahs31 In the Brooder

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    Apr 20, 2008
    Waukesha, WI
    thanks...I meant excercise for me....meandthegals made me do a triathalon once and I about died! :|
     
  7. me&thegals

    me&thegals Songster

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    greyfields--I'm appreciating your obvious experience and knowledge. I have one more question for you. Are birds like humans in that all of us can be exposed to an organism but just the least healthy develop the disease?

    For example, do you know if free-ranging birds exposed to cocci would have lower levels of infection compared to confinement operation birds exposed to the same?

    It's very interesting to learn that there are "pockets" of the disease in different areas/climes. Just wondering still how bird health would play a role...

    Thanks,

    me&thegals
     
  8. greyfields

    greyfields Crowing

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    me&thegals :

    greyfields--I'm appreciating your obvious experience and knowledge. I have one more question for you. Are birds like humans in that all of us can be exposed to an organism but just the least healthy develop the disease?

    Cocci is caused by a protozoa, so it's not a 'disease' as much as it is a parasite. So the mechanism is different, which limites the ability of parents to pass resistance along to their progeny.

    But, you are absolutely right. In every crop you raise, some birds are going to get sick from it, while others won't even slow down. The extent of which this is passed along to offspring is what I'm not certain of.

    According to ATTRA publications, you can produce a cocci resistant flock as long as you do your own breeding (rather than buying in chickens as day olds). So, I tend to follow their advice. The only sustainable solution is to breed your own hens from birds which showed natural resistance. Broilers, though, is another matter since you can't yourself really breed commercially acceptable meat chickens.


    me&thegals :

    For example, do you know if free-ranging birds exposed to cocci would have lower levels of infection compared to confinement operation birds exposed to the same?

    I do not know how confinemnt vs free ranging would affect it. You would think confined birds would be less exposed, however broilers farms certainly have to use all kinds of medicated feeds just to ensure their crop loss is no more than 25%.​
     

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