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PINE BLUFF, Ark. – Estimates are that coccidiosis costs the beef industry $100 million
annually, says Dr. David Fernandez, Cooperative Extension Program livestock specialist
at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff UAPB.
Caused by a single-celled parasite, a protozoan, coccidiosis is also the second most
important internal parasite of sheep. The parasite lives in the feces of animals and
can survive for a year if protected from the sun. When young animals lick one another,
eat contaminated feed or drink contaminated water, the parasite gets into the intestine
wall where it multiplies, says Dr. Fernandez. The parasite can cause the loss of appetite,
lethargy, rough hair coats, slow growth, failure to thrive and bloody diarrhea.
A standard fecal analysis will show whether or not an animal is infected. In cattle,
coccidiosis is typically prevented by adding a coccidiostat to the water. Unfortunately,
none of the drugs available to treat coccidiosis is approved by the Federal Drug Administration
(FDA) for use with lambs and kids, says Dr. Fernandez. Off-label use is permitted
only with the approval of a veterinarian with whom a rancher has a valid client-veterinary
relationship. Without it, ranchers can be liable for any illness or deaths associated
with the consumption of meat or milk products from their animals.
Drugs used to treat coccidiosis include amprolium (Corid®) and sulfadimethoxine (Albion® or Di-Methox®). Corid® mimics thiamine, causing coccidia to starve to death. In sheep and goats, Corid® can cause a thiamine deficiency, so a thiamine injection is usually recommended.
Coccidiostats slow the spread of coccidia and help reduce the incidence of coccidiosis.
To be effective, they must be given at least three weeks before calving, lambing or
kidding begins. Bovatec® (lasalocid) is FDA approved for confined sheep. Rumensin® (monensin) is FDA approved for confined goats, but not for lactating goats. Monesin
is toxic to horses and dogs; do not allow them to eat goat feed containing monensin.
Deccox® (decoquinate) is FDA approved for young nonlactating sheep and goats. Do not feed
coccidiostats year round to avoid the development of drug resistance by the protozoa,
warns Dr. Fernandez.
Prevention is the key to managing coccidia, says Dr. Fernandez. Because coccidia rely
on fecal-oral transmission, good hygiene and sanitation are critical. Keep pens where
animals give birth clean and free of manure. Avoid overcrowding animals, especially
the very young or stressed animals, such as at weaning time.
Young and stressed animals’ immune systems are weaker than older animals and those
that are not stressed, making them more susceptible to infection. For this reason,
avoid mixing young and older animals, if possible. Keep waterers and stock tanks clean
and free of manure. Put feed and hay in bunks and racks that keep animals and manure
Product mention does not imply endorsement.
For more information, contact Dr. Fernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org or (870) 575-7214.
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By Carol Sanders UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences
Media Contact: Carol Sanders (870) 575-7238, email@example.comRelated Links