Diagnosis And Control Of Chicken Coccidiosis: Diseases Of Poultry

3 February, 2023 By:SB Group

Over the years, poultry farming has been one of the fastest-growing sectors in the agriculture field. Not to mention, it has been one of the driving forces of the nation’s economy. Also, in poultry farming, chickens are the major birds raised and sold for their meat and eggs.

Though being one of the flourishing sectors, it is not always the highway with the chickens. It faces numerous deadly diseases which hamper productivity and compromise welfare resulting in high mortality.

Also, yes, there are several pathogens, even good and even bad. Here, one such pathogen is coccidiosis in chicken. In brief, coccidiosis is an enteric disease that impairs growth and suppresses the immune system resulting in high mortality.

Chicken Coccidiosis: What Is It All About?

Well, chicken coccidiosis is one of the most common diseases among chickens in the world. It is an intestinal disease caused by intracellular protozoal parasites of the genus Eimeria. This causative agent rapidly builds up to affect the intestine making it prone to other diseases.

In chicken alone, there are seven pathogenic species of Eimeria which are often transmitted by mechanical carriers such as insects and wild birds.

Chicken Coccidiosis

Chickens in Poultry(Source: EW Nutrition)

Life Cycle And Causes Of Coccidiosis

Coccidiosis has rapid growth, which only lasts four to five days with continuous multiplication. Its life cycle starts with the ingestion of mature oocysts that are shed by both infected and recovered birds.

Also, these parasites are host-specific; thus, wild birds do not serve as a biological reservoir. Once these parasites are freed, they invade the bird’s intestinal cells, where they start with their asexual development stage.

Within 24 hours of their sporulation, these parasites start to infect the chicken’s body which reduces their body weight and also enhances their mortality rate.

Among the various forms of coccidiosis, caecal coccidiosis is the most common form of the disease caused by Eimeria tenella.

Symptoms Of Coccidiosis In Chicken

Coccidiosis is a disease that generally affects young birds before they have acquired immunity when they are just three to six weeks old. However, among the chicken species, layers and breeders are the ones with the rare sighting of this disease in them.

In addition to it, this parasite has a different response to different flocks. Some infected flocks reach their dying stage, while others will remain healthy. Likewise, it also depends upon the variants of the parasite.

Chicken Coccidiosis

Chickens in a poultry farm (Source: Wikimedia)

The parasite with virulent strains will cause diarrhea and a sudden increase in flock mortality, while the ones with less virulent strains will result in poor growth and reduced feed efficiency. In both scenarios, the chickens will have a reduction in feed and water intake.

Usually, the chicken with coccidiosis will have a ruffled appearance, blood in their droppings, a breakdown in intestinal function, and an abrupt and severe drop in egg production. During it, the chickens often take longer time to eat, which will stun their growth. Moving on, the chickens that died of coccidiosis will have an anemic appearance.

Risk Factors And Immunity Of Coccidiosis In Chicken

As coccidiosis can be carried by mechanical means, including equipment, clothing, insects, and other animals, chickens of any age have the risk of getting infected. However, the chickens reared as litters have even higher chances as they do not usually acquire passive immunity from hens.

For the infection, their environment also plays a huge factor, as warm, wet, and under-ventilated conditions are ideal for massive parasite multiplication. Additionally, when the chickens come in direct contact with their droppings, they have a higher chance of catching the infection.

Diagnosis And Control Of Chicken Coccidiosis

Chicken Coccidiosis: Diseases Of Poultry (Source: Wikimedia )

Primarily, these infection gets transmitted due to poor hygiene related to personnel, feeding, and drinking. Furthermore, when a chicken is fed whole wheat feeding than complete ground and pelleted feed, the infection chances rise.

Once the chickens are infected, some species can develop their immunity while some can’t. As chickens do not develop an immune system to this parasite until they are seven weeks old, hence, they always have a critical risk of getting infected.

Control And Treatment Of Coccidiosis In Chicken

Coccidiosis in chickens can not be entirely removed from their body, but it can be controlled to some extent. It can be controlled by taking care of the vicinity of the chickens you are fostering in.

Since they spread from feces, litter, invertebrates, vermin, personnel, and vehicles, it is quite an easy task with care for people to control it.

Effective Management Of Poultry Litter

It is pretty critical to keep control of their litter and not let it get damp and keep it near their feeding or drinking areas. In fact, it is much better if you keep the feeding and drinking box at a height that feces can not contaminate them. Also, keeping the mature and young chickens separate is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infection.

Use Of Natural Feed Additives

There are several natural additives that can help with the chicken’s dietary supplement and control the parasite. Some of these additives are oregano extract or essential oil. These help the chicken to gain weight and feed conversion ratios.

Timely Vaccination For Chickens

There are multiple coccidiosis vaccines available in the market that can be given to your chickens. It can be given after consulting with the experts.

Treating Chicken Coccidiosis 

There are many products that can prevent and treat coccidiosis in chickens. Here, some of the drugs treat infection at the time of administration, while others support the build-up of immunity. Also, these stats can suppress the development of the parasite.

However, these drugs must not be used in laying hens as their residues might be left in eggs for human consumption. As for the natural ways, there are several extracts from 15 different Asian herbs that are said to have anticoccidial activity.

Some Common Tips To Prevent Chicken Coccidiosis

  • Keep the chickens of different age groups separate.
  • Avoid wet litter and keep the litter box at a height.
  • Keep high standards of hygiene for both feeding and drinking equipment.
  • Vaccinate them at any time and treat them as soon as the symptoms start showing.