Why cocci is a big problem Some Starter feeds contain oregano which helps to protect the gut
COCCIDIOSIS is a common worldwide disease caused by a gut parasite (coccidia, colloquially known as ‘cocci’, pronounced ‘cocksy’) which can cause severe, often fatal, damage to the gut lining and is most common in young birds as they have no immunity. However, birds of any age can be affected (see page 62).
There are many species of coccidia and they tend to be host-specific – it’s important to know the avian and mammalian species do not cross infect. Cocci can be a problem in calves which is why many calf meals are medicated in the same way as Chick Starter, but it is a different species of coccidia to those which affect chickens. Turkeys have a couple of species specific to them as well.
There are at least six species which can cause significant problems in chickens. Because it is almost impossible to protect birds from being infected with coccidiosis, there are several courses of action you can undertake to minimise loss. • PROVIDE the chick with medicated feed or water, at a level to prevent the coccidia taking a hold so as to cause disease – the treatment level is progressively reduced over a number of weeks to allow slight leakage of infective organisms which trigger the immune response. • ENSURE chicks are getting the full amount of medicated feed per chick. Do not dilute with grain, scraps or free range too soon or the chicks will not get enough medication to cover any breakthrough infection. Most good quality commercial Chick Starter feeds you can buy will contain a low level of coccidiosis medication (this will be noted on the bag). Many also include oregano which has been shown to protect the gut. • TRY to provide conditions which prevent the oocysts (eggs) from developing in the litter. Hot and wet conditions, eg a drinker under a brooder lamp, must be avoided. Raise the drinker up on a solid platform above the litter or sit on a grid which allows the drips to fall on to a floor or tray the chicks cannot reach. Non-spill drinkers or nipples are preferable. • HAVE a treatment in your first aid kit as an insurance, as at the first sign of cocci the whole flock needs to be treated. You cannot wait half a day to get medication as it can kill very quickly. Coxiprol (available without a prescription) and Baycox (which does need one) are excellent treatments. • VACCINATION of the young chick with attenuated (made weaker) strains of several coccidian species triggers an immune response in the bird to the invasion of weakened strains before it might encounter a wild field strain. However, this is an expensive option, and as noted on page 60, you will then have to continue vaccinations forever.
Decades ago, milk was used as a ‘flush’ for young birds suffering from coccidiosis. Scientists have found that it is not a cure, but we do know it can help (but not always!) if you time it perfectly (difficult). Chickens are lactose-intolerant; when given milk, their kidneys excrete large amounts of fluid, sweeping the gut contents out and
causing diarrhoea in the chick which cleans out most of the coccidia before they can embed in the gut wall. However, this is nowhere near as effective as preventative steps or medications, and getting the timing right is very difficult to do. It’s also potentially harmful to the chick for other reasons (nutrition, hydration).
Chicks do get a certain amount of maternal immunity but this wanes as they YOU MAY spot droppings containing bright red blood, usually caused by Eimeria tenella and this is the symptom most people associate with cocci, but it’s by no means the symptom of all types.
Typically your first clue will be the ‘crook chook’ stance: standing alone, feathers fluffed up, eyes closed, not inclined to eat or drink and the bird will usually also have cold feet.
Once this stage is reached it will have lost weight and is likely to die, although some TLC and individual dosage of medication might pull them through.
The different species can affect different parts of the gut and even at different times of the bird’s life. One species ( Eimeria acervulina) can cause a chronic wasting and a white diarrhoea in much older birds. A particularly severe type, Eimeria necatrix, can cause very sudden deaths with few symptoms. If you are doing a post-mortem, a very swollen gut, often with the appearance of a peppered sausage, would indicate coccidiosis from this species.
Wendy Majoor loves chickens. The long-time poultry enthusiast breeds flocks of colourful heritage birds on her block at Pukekohe.
Her expertise will be a bonus for customers who come to her new Chook Manor store just south of Auckland.
A North Island-based Chook Manor franchise is the culmination of almost 10 years of hard work for the company’s founders, Greg and Cheryl Boyle. Their thriving business is based in Christchurch, and they wanted to be able to offer a more economic option for North Island customers says Greg.
“When you order off the Chook Manor website, if you’re in the North Island it will be Wendy who will take care of you. It’s faster and more cost-effective for our customers: Wendy will be able to get products to Auckland customers for just $6 freight, rather than $25 if we send it.”
Both the Chook Manor stores stock Weston Milling feed, a wide range of incubators from Brinsea, Black Chick, and Eggtech, and a wide range of health care products, from wormers to red mite control, and organic options including Smite Organic products.
Their biggest seller is the Feed-o-matic treadle feeders in 5kg, 12kg and 20kg sizes, a safe, almost silent way to feed your flock, and keep it out of reach of pests.
in a large pot in our greenhouse. We’re pushing the climatic limits of this warmth-loving plant; earlier plants died when I put them directly into greenhouse soil. I’ll use a much bigger pot and put in more plants next division time because it seems we can use more than the one plant.
Lemongrass hails from Asian countries and is an easily-grown and much-used kitchen addition. It also looks lovely as it moves in the breeze and the soft green leaves release a great scent as you brush past them.
Lemongrass is easily grown from division in spring or summer. It’s a matter of taking off two or three outer stems including the roots and trimming off the greenery, then planting into a well-manured soil in a frost-free, full sun, sheltered place. Keep the plants well-watered in summer and maintain fertility with compost and liquid fertiliser. In late winter, if the foliage hasn’t died down, it can be cut back and used as a good weed-free mulch for the plant. New growth will soon come away.
The leaves can be used to make a fragrant tea (see page 66), and the stems are an integral part of Asian cooking, used when they are thicker than an average finger. Harvest from the outer stems and peel off the tougher outer layer before use.
Why I chose rush hour to drive from east to west Christchurch to buy mustard greens, I can’t imagine. It was 25 frazzled, traffic-clogged minutes and it was with minutes to spare that I zoomed into the Asian grocery shop and scanned the vege shelves for the magic ingredient I was after.
Half the vegetables were not named, as regulars queuing at the counter must know their vegetables by sight. Not me. Pak choi looked familiar but nothing else – I only knew what mustard should taste like.
I spotted bunches of large, rough-looking, slightly serrated leaves, which bore a resemblance to the baby mustards in my garden. Were they mustard leaves? Everyone in the store was flat out so I sneaked a piece of tattered leaf off the side and bit into it.
Definitely mustard and it had a kick! Ten minutes later, twiddling thumbs at a long traffic light, the aftertaste was still reverberating around my mouth, bright green, fresh, and mustardy. No chance of falling asleep on the long road home. Why has it has taken us this long to wake up to mustard’s possibilities? One website I found quoted a survey saying mustards (varieties of Brassica juncea) were the most feared vegetable. I was both excited and apprehensive about what the cook could do with them. I was aware it could go badly wrong.
It seems the key to success is just the right amount of cooking, combined with the right flavours that enhance the taste and counteract the pungency.
Mustards go well with stronger flavours such as duck, salmon, bacon, ham, sesame oil, ginger, cumin, garlic, onion, tomato, curry, soy sauce, prosciutto, toasted nuts and sharp cheeses. In Asian cooking, tamarind, sake, rice wine vinegar, ginger and chillies are common complements. Including olive oil and nuts helps to make the rich supply of antioxidants and vitamins in mustards more easily absorbed. Cooking with mustards is good for your health. They have extremely high levels of the immune-boosting vitamins A and C, are low in calories, high in fibre and vitamin K, and have good levels of essential minerals including calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium and manganese.
They are also high in chlorophyll, which is believed to pull environmental toxins from the blood, and neutralise heavy metals, chemicals and pesticides in the body. Interestingly, mustard plants have been used effectively to remove heavy metals, such as cadmium, from soils.
The rich supply of flavonoids in mustards (indoles, sulforaphane, Fresh mustard leaves are deep green and broad with a flat surface, and edges which may be may be toothed, frilly or lacy, depending on the variety. Generally mustard leaves are rougher than other Oriental brassicas and more pungent.
The degree of pepperiness varies enormously with variety, age of leaf, growing conditions and even part of the plant. Stems can be mild and leaves hot, and vice versa. Small leaves are milder and more suited for salads than larger leaves, although these can be shredded to add extra ‘zing.’
I sprinkle a few mustards in my mesclun mixes in autumn and spring to liven up our salads and add interesting textures and colours.
Textures range from bubbly, savoyed types to the delicately fringed, curly types, of which my favourite is one called Lime Streaks. We grow this little beauty in our mesclun mix year-round for its golden, lacy leaves and mild, peppery bite. It is heat-tolerant and more bolt-resistant for summer use, with a pleasant, mild mustard flavour. It also regrows faster than other varieties, which are quite slow.
Having said that, it was the colour, rather than the flavour of mustards, that first attracted me. I was indulging my dangerous hobby of browsing seed catalogues and spotted the vibrant purple and maroon red leaves.
They shouted “Plant me! I’ll cheer