Myth-Busting Medicated Chicken Feed

At Nutrena, and other poultry feed companies, feed is often formulated as medicated or non-medicated. There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to the medicated feed option. So, we’ve decided it’s time to bust the myths about medicated poultry feed. To level set, when we refer to medicated poultry feed, we’re talking about feed which includes amprolium. We currently offer a medicated and non-medicated chick starter/grower in our Country Feeds® and NatureWise® lines, to make sure you have the choice that works best for your flock.
Read our myth-busting facts below and to learn more about coccidiosis, read our other blog post here.

Myth #1: Medicated feed will ‘cure a bird with a cold or runny droppings’.
The fact:  The medication, Amprolium, will only help prevent coccidiosis, nothing else.

Myth #2: I do not want to feed an antibiotic to my chicks, so I do not feed medicated feed.
The fact: Contrary to popular belief, Amprolium is not an antibiotic. It is a thiamin blocker, and the cocidia parasite needs thiamin to multiply in the gut of a bird.

Myth #3: I do not want residual drugs in my meat or eggs.
The fact: There is no egg or meat withdrawal time for Amprolium in poultry feed. The FDA has deemed it safe to eat the eggs or meat from birds that have consumed it.

Myth #4: If I see an outbreak of coccidiosis (bloody droppings), I should start to feed the medicated feed immediately.
The fact: The dosage of Amprolium in medicated feed is not strong enough to fix an outbreak. Its purpose is to serve as a preventative measure. A stronger dose of Amprolium should be added to the water immediately if there is an outbreak, but a consult with your veterinarian may be necessary to fully address what’s going on.

Myth #5: I should always feed medicated feed
The fact: It is a personal choice, and coccidiosis can be managed with or without Amprolium. If there are wild birds present in the store where your chickens were bought, or on your farm, it may be a good idea to introduce medicated feed. But the decision is yours.

Myth #6: It’s a good practice to feed some medicated feed and some non-medicated feed as a mixture if I don’t want to give my flock too much medicine.
The fact: Feeding a medicated feed takes the guess work out of dosing, since it is formulated carefully. Mixing medicated and non-medicated feed reduces the effectiveness of the medicated feed. If you opt to use a medicated feed, a sixteen-week duration is what most experts recommend. If you have not started your chicks on medicated, it is OK to switch, but it may not be as effective.

Myth# 7: I should obtain a prescription from my veterinarian for medicated chick starter since there is new veterinary feed directive (VFD) starting soon.
The fact: Since Amprolium is not an antibiotic, no veterinary prescription is necessary. But, as with any medication, read and follow all label instructions for maximum efficacy and safety.

To learn more about what feed options are out there, visit NutrenaWorld.com.

Medicated Chick Starter Facts

A dry and clean brooder is a must for chicks.

A dry and clean brooder is a must for chicks.

You’ve decided on a breed, you decided how many to get, you may have even decided on some names – now there is one more decision to make: should you feed medicated or non-medicated chick starter? This is a personal choice, and to help you make an informed decision, we’ve summarized what medicated starter does and does not do.

Medicated chick starters utilize coccidiostats, which help limit the incidence of coccidiosis in young birds. Coccidiosis is an intestinal parasite that is widely spread and found just about everywhere. It multiplies rapidly in the gut and then appears in the feces. As chicks scratch and peck they ingest the coccidiosis from the feces and become infected. Symptoms of infected chicks are a red or orange tint to the feces, a drop in feed consumption and lethargy. This disease can quickly infect your whole group of birds and is often fatal if untreated; Coccidiosis is one of the leading causes of death in baby chicks. One way to help protect your birds against this disease is to feed a medicated chick starter.

It is important to note a few things that medicated chick starter is NOT:

  • Medicated chick starter is not necessary if your chicks have been vaccinated for coccidiosis. However, the coccidiosis vaccination is relatively new and fairly rare so chances are your chicks will not have been vaccinated.
  • Medicated starter is not a cure after you have an outbreak of coccidiosis. There is only enough medication in the feed to act as a preventative – and once your chicks become sick with coccidiosis their feed intakes usually drop dramatically, so feeding them medication will not help.
  • Medicated chick starter is not targeted to prevent anything other than coccidiosis. It is not a dewormer, respiratory medication, etc.

There are certain instances where it is usually a good idea to feed a medicated starter:

  • Brooding large batches of chicks – 50+ at one time
  • Brooding large batches consecutively
  • If you live in a hot, humid environment
  • If you have a history of coccidiosis in your facilityNotes on Amprolium:
    Amprolium is the coccidiostat that is used in Nutrena’s NatureWise® and Country Feeds® medicated chick starter. Here are some specifics about this medication:

    1. Amprolium is a drug that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
    2. Amprolium IS NOT an antibiotic
    3. Amprolium has no withdrawal period, either in birds raised for meat or those used for egg production.
    4. Amprolium works by limiting uptake of thiamine (vitamin B1) by the coccidia parasite, which needs the thiamine to actively multiply.
    5. Amprolium allows some of the coccidia to remain in the system, stimulating creation of antibodies to develop against the disease.

Whether  you decide to feed a medicated or non medicated chick starter, there are other things you can do to help decrease your chances of coccidiosis in your flock:

  • Chicks kept on wire have less access to feces to peck at and this reduces their chances of becoming infected
  • Clean regularly, change litter frequently and keep  the brooding area dry
  • Don’t crowd your birds – overcrowding quickly leads to unsanitary conditions

Should I Feed a Medicated Chick Starter?

Wondering when to feed a medicated chick starter versus a non-medicated chick starter? There is really no right or wrong answer, it is simply a matter of preference.

Coccidiosis is very common and is generally caused by wet dirty coops. However, wild birds can also spread it, so even birds in clean environments can be susceptible. Symptoms include loss of appetite, unthrifty appearance, and the chick isolating themselves from the flock. Symptoms can progress to blood in the stool and eventually death.

For more information, watch this short video from “Mr. Cluck”:

Still have questions?  Leave them here in the comments field, and we’ll help you out!