Anticoccidial drugs fall into two categories – coccidiostats and coccidiocides.
Medications are either coccidicidal (cidal), which means they kill the parasite, or coccidiostatic (static), which do not kill the parasites, but arrest their development.
Coccidiostats are given in the feed to prevent severe outbreaks of the disease – and being an additive is often referred to as a ‘vaccine’ but definately isn’t as there are significant differences between this and poultry vaccines. The coccidiostat doesn’t actively kill the coccidia, it simply interrupts the breeding cycle and they can’t multiply into large numbers. The coccidiostat can be included in starter and grower crumbles and can be seen on the label. Old or poorly mixed feed may not be reliable as a preventive.
Medications that are given to treat coccidiosis (therapeutic therapy) are coccidiocides. They actively kill the protozoa. Sulphaquin and Baycox would fall into this category. These drugs are usually given in the drinking water. The chickens must ingest enough of the coccidiocide to be effective.
Early treatment is very important because the coccidiocide must kill the coccidia within the bird before irrepairable damage is done to the intestines. There are also some medications that can act as both a coccidiostat and a coccidiocide.
The dosage rates of coccidiocides are carefully balanced to kill enough of the coccidia to save the bird, yet still enable immunity to develop. Overdosing can be toxic to the birds, so in treating for coccidiosis more is not better. Treatment needs to take place urgently once symptoms are seen as a bird can die within a couple of days in severe cases.
Treatment medications for coccidiosis available at our store or at feed stores, pet speciality stores or local produce stores. Products to look out for include:
Sulpha 3 (Sulphaquinoxaline+Sulphadimidine+Sulphathiazole)
Coccivet (Amprolium, Ethopabate)
Commercial vaccines consist of low doses of live, sporulated oocysts of the various coccidial species administered at low doses to day-old chicks. These are not widely used among backyarders due to difficulty in obtaining the vaccine, and the fact that good management makes it unnecessary.