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Coccidiosis is a problem of intensively-reared lambs and calves, occurring primarily indoors where stocking densities are high but may also occur in young animals at pasture, where there is heavy contamination around feed troughs in creep areas during warm wet weather. Loss of gut absorptive capacity results in profuse diarrhoea. Morbidity is high but mortality, even in severe cases, is usually low. Convalescence is protracted in all cases resulting in poor growth rates, increased age at first calving, and lengthy delays to finishing for meat animals, not to mention the extra feeding costs.

Control and treatment

Animals must be moved from infected pastures/premises as soon as disease becomes apparent. Decoquinate (Deccox sheep premix), Diclazuril (Vecoxan) and Toltrazuril (Baycox) can be used for the treatment and prophylaxis of Coccidiosis and the choice of medication will depend upon individual farm circumstances. Toltrazuril has a longer duration of action so one dose is all that is necessary. Timing is less critical but the ideal timing of treatment has been shown to be a week after turn-out onto contaminated land or a week before expected clinical disease.

Various studies have shown that, in the face of a Coccidia challenge, animals treated with either Diclazuril or Toltrazuril shed fewer Coccidia oocysts, have less or no diarrhoea and grow faster than untreated lambs. A single dose of Toltrazuril has been shown to be more effective at reducing the numbers of oocysts shed than either a single or double dose of Diclazuril, resulting in less contamination of the pasture and thus a lower challenge facing the next batch of animals.

Control also involves avoidance of faecal contamination of bedding/pasture around feed troughs. Ensure clean bedding especially around feed areas, move feed hoppers regularly. Creep areas at pasture can become heavily contaminated especially during wet weather therefore the troughs must be moved daily.

Further information…

If you are at all worried about Coccidiosis, or would like to discuss the available control and treatment options, get in touch with one of our farm specialist veterinary surgeons on 01458 832972 or email farmspecialists@ovg.co.uk