What is Coccidiosis?

Coccidiosis is a parasitic disease that affects young stock, usually over three weeks of age. It usually affects young animals that are exposed to high levels of the coccidia protozoa, (usually due to dirty calf pens, equipment and gumboots), or when their resistance is lowered due to poor nutrition, stress, or other diseases that impair immune function. Coccidia can survive up to two years in the soil and in pens. The protozoa don’t usually spread between different species.

What can cause an outbreak?
Most common cause is stress, but there are four main situations that can lead to a coccidia outbreak:

  • Large amount of animals year after year in the same sheds or paddocks.
  • Mild and damp conditions (Increase of numbers of coccidia oocysts available to be ingested).
  • Discontinuing a coccidiostat (eg in milk powder or meal or other additive products). This may coincide with weaning, and this is already a stressful time for the animal.
  • Cold weather and high stocking rates.


What to look out for?
Animals, usually over three weeks of age, that have:

  • Scours (sometimes green with blood and mucous, and foul smelling).
  • Straining to defecate.
  • Weight loss and rough coat.
  • Death.

Faecal egg counts can be carried out in house if you are worried that your animal has coccidia. These tests are carried out in the clinic so there is a quick turnaround time for results.