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Doc help, my chicken have bloody stool

Some of the chickens ready for sale at a poultry farm in Mosoriot, Nandi County. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

Dr Messo,

My chickens are producing bloody stool, what could be the problem?

Mohammed, Mombasa

Dear Mohammed

Acute red loose watery diarrhoea in chickens lasting two to three days may go unnoticed. However persistent condition that lasts weeks or months is categorised as chronic infection that may lead to wasting and death if not immediately managed. In poultry production system where birds are on free-range or reared on deep litter, the main disease associated with this condition is Coccidiosis. It is caused by an organism called Eimeria species, which also affects cattle, fish, frogs and others. Luckily, it does not affect man. The disease-causing organism attacks only the gut of the chickens where it lives and is excreted out into the litter/manure as small heat-resistant spores. The impact of coccidiosis is more severe in chickens with poorly developed gut systems, unthrifty birds, underweight and poorly brooded chickens.

There are two types of Coccidiosis a) Clinical – where infected birds show symptoms of bloody diarrhoea, wasting, loss of performance and death, and b) Subclinical - the affected birds do not show visible symptoms of the disease but when a random sample of birds is examined, the presence of the gross lesions caused by the parasite is found.

Signs of a coccidiosis infection

Stunted growth, severe diarrhoea or loose stool with blood stain, high mortality, if untreated one can lose 10 per cent of the flock. 

How to prevent coccidiosis

Disinfection: Ensure that before placement of the chicks, the chicken house is fully and thoroughly cleaned and disinfected using Ultraxide, Pharmguard, TH4 or any aldehyde-based product which are available at any poultry centre or veterinary shop near you.

Pragmatic litter management: Clinically infected and recovered birds shed oocysts in their droppings, which contaminate feed, dust, water, litter and soil. Oocysts may also be transmitted by mechanical carriers (equipment, clothing and farm workers) and from here they can be ingested. It is important to ensure that there is proper litter management within the chicken house to make sure it is always dry and friable.

Biosecurity/hygiene: The most effective form of protection against disease, is biosecurity that is excluding disease from the farming environment, and this holds the key to successful and profitable farming. Biosecurity is the cheapest and most effective means of disease control.

Vaccination: Modern anticoccidial vaccines should be given to day-old chicks upon arrival at the farm. Use Paracox 5 which is administered through drinking water.


If you suspect that your birds are infected, contact a veterinarian near you.

[The writer is Head vet at Kenchic, watsonmesso@yahoo.com]

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