The debate about medicated vs. unmedicated chick starter has been raging for decades.
Controversies are often unavoidable, especially when it comes to the well-being of our families. Discussions about what is best for both our human families and our animal families are inevitable.
With increasingly available means of preventative medicine for all aspects of our families comes discussions of the relative value of such medication.
There is lots of bickering back and forth on social media about whether it’s better to feed your chicks medicated chick starter or unmedicated chick starter.
Today, I’m going into some facts about this controversial topic. Specifically, we’ll explore the differences between them, dispel some of the myths out there, and give you information that can help you figure out whether medicated or unmedicated is right for you.
- Medicated chick starter has an added medication called Amprolium, which “used to prevent and treat intestinal coccidiosis”. It’s not an antibiotic.
- Coccidiosis is a parasite infestation that can occur both in adult chickens and baby chicks. It can be deadly.
- Unmedicated chick starter does not have Amprolium or any other medicine in it.
- The chick starter Pampered Chicken Mama produces is non-medicated. (View here)
- Which is best for chicks? There’s no right or wrong answer. You decide what’s best for your flock.
- I don’t personally feed medicated chick starter.
- You can add herbs such as garlic, lemon balm, and oregano to support healthy immune system functions. Our chick starter includes these herbs.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that there really isn’t a right or a wrong choice when it comes to these two different types of chick starter. One has some extra medication in it to help with parasite control, while the other doesn’t.
In terms of their nutritional value, I personally think that they’re the same. It is fine that some people out there disagree with me on that, but my opinion is based on my own observations and experiences.
Medicated Chick Starter
To look at what medicated chick starter is, it’s important to distinguish what it is not. I’m not sure who started this or why there is a misunderstanding about this product, but medicated chick starter does not have antibiotics in it.
Medicated chick starter does have amprolium in it. Amprolium is a medication that prevents the growth of parasites that are naturally found in the soil.
Coccidiosis is an infestation of parasites in a chick or chicken’s gut or intestines. In baby chicks and adults too, this can be deadly.
Will it kill every chick if you don’t use medicated chick starter? No.
Might it a kill a chick? Possibly.
Unfortunately, the veterinary medical care surrounding baby chicks, in particular, and chickens in general, isn’t very advanced. It’s really hard to acquire accurate figures surrounding Coccidiosis.
I don’t know how many statistics out there show how many chicks actually die of parasite infestation. Medicated chick starter, however, was designed to directly combat both Coccidiosis and parasite infestation.
In terms of the nutrient value, medicated chick starter has 18% protein in it. If it doesn’t, I would find a chick starter that does have at least 18% protein. If it’s produced by a commercial manufacturer, it’s gonna have all the nutrients your baby chicks need to grow into healthy adults.
Unmedicated Chick Starter
Unmedicated chick starter doesn’t have this extra medication that helps prevent the growth of parasites.
Unfortunately, these parasites are everywhere, and they’re going to be in the soil, on grass, wherever, so your chicks are going to be exposed to them. It’s up to the chick to build up an immunity against them.
Some people argue that medicated chick starter doesn’t help chicks build up that immunity or that it’s somehow unnecessary to help build up that immunity.
Unmedicated chick starter, again, has the amount of nutrients that they need to grow up healthy. It has all the beneficial minerals that your chicks need.
Unmedicated chick starter doesn’t have the amprolium in it, and that is ultimately the only difference between the two types of chick starter.
Organic Options and Uses for Chickens
When some people want to raise their chickens organically or naturally, they choose to not feed the medicated chick starter. This organic approach keeps pharmaceutical medication from going through their chickens.
This is important particularly for people who choose to raise their chickens for meat, like broilers. This prevents their birds from polluting people with pharmaceuticals when they are consumed.
If you’re raising layers, this is not as large a problem. By the time the chicks are actually layers, you’ve probably taken them off the medicated chick starter. That means that the amprolium is not going to be in their system any longer and cannot be passed to their eggs.
So that’s the deal and I’m not going to tell you which to choose.
What we sell in our stores is unmedicated chick starter. That seems to be more popular with people who follow me and people who buy from me.
I don’t think that there’s anything immoral about either one. If you choose to feed medicated chick starter, that’s fine.
If you choose to feed unmedicated chick starter, that’s fine also. It just depends on what your individual goals are and what you feel is best for your flock.
Just remember that the lack or inclusion of amprolium is the main difference between medicated and unmedicated chick starter.
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.