Every goat has some coccidia in them. You can run a fecal and probably find a couple, but that's normal. If you happen to see hundreds then you have a problem. Coccidiosis, the disease, is more often seen in kids because they haven't built up the strength to resist them, but isn't just a "kid" disease. Any goat can get an overwhelming population with the right circumstances, such as from a decreased immune system from kidding in adult does or weaning in older kids. It can also occur alongside another illness. It isn't strange to have coccidiosis alongside worms or an infection. Sometimes even changing the goat's feed too quickly can trigger an outbreak.
Keeping healthy, strong animals goes a long way to preventing cocci. The stronger the immune system, the less likely the coccidia can overwhelm the goat. Feeding adequate copper is very helpful to this end. Molly of Fias Co Farms had great success using her herbal treatment as a preventative in her kids. Diatomaceous earth may also be effective but it has not been evaluated. Many producers provide kids with a feed containing a coccidiostat drug
(usually decoquinate), but it is difficult to determine how much feed the kid is getting and in really young kids, they would not be eating enough to make a difference. Keeping goats on pasture at least six inches can also be a preventative because the goat's mouth doesn't get close enough to the soil surface to ingest the coccidia oocysts (eggs). This can be particularly key in heavily infected pastures because coccidia can overwinter and be a fresh problem in the spring.
Mild: diarrhea, unthriftiness, poor appetite, standing with back hunched, poor growth
Acute: stool may also be a sickly green, painful crying, dehydration, fever (or abnormally low temperature)
Severe: dead within the day from onset colic, shock, and eventual collapse, may not actually have diarrhea
Chronic (adult): occasional diarrhea or scours for no discernible reason, poor feed efficiency, unthriftiness
As with any worm or protozoan, run a fecal float test. Not all diarrhea is caused by coccidia. Sometimes the goat just gets scours from stress and nothing else really caused it at all. Or maybe it was worms, or an infection. But it is good to recognize the symptoms and run a fecal anyway, just to be sure. Coccidia are relatively small compared to worms like strongyles, so use the 100x lens on the microscope.
If not caught fast enough, coccidia can cause irreparable damage to the intestines. The goat will then not be able to properly absorb nutrients from its food, will lose weight no matter what you do, and always be unthrifty. Such an animal should be slaughtered or culled.
If the goat has shown signs of cocci and a fecal confirmed it, there are a couple options for a treatment. Please keep in mind that if the treatment you are using doesn't show improvement within three days, try something else. Cocci might also not be the problem, in which case you need to do more detective work.
Day one: 1 ml per 5 pounds
Days 2-5: 1 ml per 10 pounds
*It is preferred to be given as a drench rather than in the drinking water to ensure the animal is actually receiving an adequate amount of medication.
*Sodium Sulfamethazine. Brand name: Sulmet. Administer the same way and in the same dosage as the sulfadimethozine. You can sweeten the medication with some sugar to make it go down easier.
*Corid. DO NOT use this. It can cause extreme thiamine deficiency and lead to its own host of problems.
Along with the treatment for the cocci, supportive therapy is very important as this disease causes extreme dehydration and nutritional deficiency. Electrolytes are key. Drench with an electrolyte formula as recommended. Cheryl from GoatWisdom designed an electrolyte recipe she called "Magic" that goes like this:
1 pint corn oil (must use corn)
1 pint unsulfured molasses
2 pints karo sryup
2 pints Pedilyte
Drench 300cc daily, in whatever way you choose. (150cc 2x a day, 100cc 3x a day, etc.)
There are many livestock electrolytes. With very young kids, it might be best to get a vet to stomach tube the kid with a feeding tube. Young kids (younger than a month) can send the liquid into their lungs instead of swallowing it because their throat isn't strong enough yet to cope with the force of the drenching. It is better to have a vet give the electrolyte than risk sending the liquid into the lungs and causing pneumonia. Adults need to be tubed simply to get enough electrolyte in them in the first place.
Giving injectable fortified vitamin B-complex is also recommended. You can go as high as 1cc per 10 pounds either orally or subcutaneously. For acute kids, go subcutaneously so it can work fast enough. Repeat twice a day. Switch injection sites if getting subQ to prevent soreness.
Every three or four days, give the animal a probiotic such as Probios to replace the rumen flora the sulfa drugs kill off. This is critical for sufficient and timely recovery, especially in young kids. You can get it at most feed stores. But if you can't get it, a good live-culture yogurt might be okay in mildly affected kids.
Bottom line with Coccidiosis. Treat kids ASAP. If you have the sulfa on hand in your medicine chest, the likelihood of your acute/severe kids surviving is much greater. I cannot stress enough having an equipped medicine chest.