Coccidia- The damage

Coccidia are tiny but when it come to the damage they can cause, punch about their weight.  We look for Coccidia whilst testing as part of the service in both our Standard and Premium tests.  So if they are present we’ll see them and report the levels.

Young Stock, Lambs, Kids and Calves in particular often have a low level of coccidia and this is not problematic – it’s perfectly normal. The issue is when we start seeing moderate and high levels.

Very important to understand that sometimes we’ll observe and report a moderate to high level of Coccidia yet the client reports the stock are not showing any signs, whilst another producer will be having deaths at the same level. the key is knowing they are there and at elevated levels so management of the young can be altered, or they can be treated if required.

Most stock recover without any assistance, as factors like the following take effect, the weather warms, nutrition increases, other parasites are removed, the stress of weaning has passed the list goes on however when high levels are observed then heavy losses can result.

Winter and Early Spring are the danger periods. Higher rates of coccidia can usually be a result of stress. Stress on young stock comes in many forms. High stocking rates, nutritional stress, handling stress and  cold wet weather are all triggers. Put a couple of these factors together and the perfect storm is created.  The best management is prevention ie minimising the stress on young stock. But sometimes thing come unstuck and knowing what you are dealing with is critical.  Clinical signs are ill thrift, foul smelling diarrhoea a big tail in the mob, deaths.

Coccidia cause a lot of damage to the walls of the intestine, and in the process nutrient uptake in the young gut is severely compromised.