Sulfa for Chickens

Sulfa drugs (sulfonamides) are frequently used since they are affordable and effectively treat a variety of conditions. Unfortunately, numerous bacteria have developed resistance since their introduction in the 1930s.

There are various related medications in the sulfonamide family that can be divided into two groups:

Rapid Absorption & Excretion: Must be given 1 – 4 times a day.

Rapid Absorption & Slow Excretion: Must be given once every 2 – 3 days.

The majority of sulfa medications are bacteriostatic, but some of them have the potential to be bactericidal (it depends on the medication, the dose, and the bacteria present).

Bacteriostatic: Prevents the multiplying of bacteria without destroying them.

Bactericidal: Kills bacteria.

Sometimes 3 different sulfonamides are combined to create a more effective sulfa drug.

Uses of Sulfa Drugs for Chickens

Sulfa drugs are commonly used to treat:

  • Coryza
  • Respiratory infections
  • Bumblefoot
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Systemic colibacillosis


Sulfa drugs perform best when used early in the course of an infection.

The average response time for a chicken is 3 days, although treatment should continue for an additional 2 days after symptoms go away.

Warning: Treatment with sulfa shouldn’t last longer than 7 days because doing so increases the risk of kidney injury from crystal formation or vitamin K insufficiency, which affects blood clotting.

A chicken’s pH balance can also become overly acidic during treatment if it doesn’t drink enough water.

If an extended course of treatment is required, give a vitamin K supplement and add 1 tbsp of baking soda per gallon of drinking water.