The Poultry Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - The ar­ti­cle above is an edited ex­tract from the Phi­bro Tech­ni­cal Bul­letin, is­sued by Phi­bro Tech­ni­cal Ser­vices.

Che­mother­a­peu­tic in­ter­ven­tion and ex­cel­lent flock man­age­ment im­pact suc­cess­ful coccidiosis con­trol

While an­tic­oc­cidial com­pounds are usu­ally cred­ited when coc­cidia con­trol ef­forts are suc­cess­ful, flock man­age­ment is an equally im­por­tant com­po­nent of op­ti­mal bird health. Birds that are stressed and in poor health have com­pro­mised im­mune sys­tems in­ca­pable of ad­e­quately re­spond­ing to anti­gens. A func­tional, re­spon­sive im­mune sys­tem is crit­i­cal for suc­cess­ful coc­cidia con­trol.

Nu­mer­ous man­age­ment fac­tors can sig­nif­i­cantly→

af­fect the suc­cess of coc­cidia con­trol ef­forts. Poul­try man­agers must strive to pro­vide an en­vi­ron­ment where an­tic­oc­cidi­als can per­form most ef­fec­tively. A dis­cus­sion of key ar­eas for vig­i­lant coc­cidia over­sight fol­lows.

Man­age­ment fac­tors can sig­nif­i­cantly af­fect the suc­cess of coc­cidia con­trol ef­forts, so poul­try man­agers must pro­vide an en­vi­ron­ment where an­tic­oc­cidi­als can per­form most ef­fec­tively. Ef­forts must be di­rected to­wards main­tain­ing and max­imis­ing feed con­sump­tion.

Feed qual­ity and man­age­ment

Birds re­quire nu­tri­tious, high-qual­ity feeds to main­tain op­ti­mal con­sump­tion, growth, and health. High mois­ture feed, poor pel­let­ing, off-grade in­gre­di­ents, and my­co­toxin con­tam­i­na­tion com­pro­mise for­mu­la­tions and caloric ef­fi­ciency. Fur­ther­more, feed must be for­mu­lated to con­tain the cor­rect quan­tity of an­tic­oc­cidial to al­low for coccidiosis pre­ven­tion.

Un­der dos­ing an an­tic­oc­cidial can se­verely erode drug ef­fi­cacy; over­dos­ing may af­fect palata­bil­ity and per­for­mance. Pre­ma­ture drug with­drawal schemes can also de­grade con­trol suc­cess.

Be­cause an­tic­oc­cidi­als are ad­min­is­tered in the ra­tion, feed con­sump­tion is a crit­i­cal as­pect of coccidiosis con­trol. If feed con­sump­tion drops, drug in­take pro­por­tion­ately falls, thus un­der dos­ing the bird and ham­per­ing drug ef­fi­cacy. Ef­fort must be di­rected to­ward main­tain­ing and max­i­miz­ing feed con­sump­tion. Qual­ity feed in­gre­di­ents, suf­fi­cient feeder space, low lev­els of stress, and many other man­age­ment fac­tors can in­flu­ence feed in­take and, there­fore, the suc­cess of coccidiosis con­trol mea­sures.

Wa­ter and mois­ture

Dili­gent wa­ter man­age­ment and mois­ture re­moval can di­rectly af­fect coc­cidia chal­lenge lev­els. Vi­a­bil­ity of coc­cidia in broiler houses is re­lated to lit­ter mois­ture. Wet, caked lit­ter with high mois­ture lev­els en­hances both coc­cidial and bac­te­rial chal­lenges. Thus, it is im­por­tant that lit­ter mois­ture be main­tained at ap­pro­pri­ate lev­els to pre­vent these el­e­vated chal­lenges. In ad­di­tion, wet and caked lit­ter should be promptly re­moved from pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties and re­placed with clean, dry ma­te­rial.

Wa­ter spillage from drink­ing sys­tems that are poorly de­signed or in dis­re­pair can con­trib­ute to wet lit­ter. En­closed drink­ing sys­tems, both nip­ple and cup-type, can re­duce lit­ter mois­ture. How­ever, wa­ter must be eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble to the birds. Any re­stric­tion in wa­ter con­sump­tion usu­ally causes a cor­re­spond­ing drop in feed con­sump­tion which, as dis­cussed ear­lier, can ad­versely im­pact bird health and an­tic­oc­cidial in­take.

Ven­ti­la­tion is a key com­po­nent of mois­ture man­age­ment, es­pe­cially when the quan­tity of mois­ture in a broiler house is con­sid­ered. A 20,000- bird flock will gen­er­ate over 150,000 litres of wa­ter by 46 days of age, equiv­a­lent to 10 cen­time­ters of rain in the broiler house. There­fore, ad­e­quate ven­ti­la­tion from one day of age to mar­ket age is re­quired to suc­cess­fully con­trol lit­ter mois­ture. Ven­ti­la­tion rates must be care­fully co­or­di­nated with evap­o­ra­tive cool­ing sys­tems so that rel­a­tive hu­mid­ity and lit­ter mois­ture are ad­e­quately con­trolled. Fac­tors such as ge­og­ra­phy, al­ti­tude, sea­son, tem­per­a­ture, and age of the flock must all be con­sid­ered in de­sign­ing sys­tems to reg­u­late hu­mid­ity and ven­ti­la­tion.

Bird den­sity

High num­bers of chick­ens in a small area greatly in­creases the num­ber of coc­cidia in the lit­ter. Even ex­haus­tive san­i­ta­tion pro­grams can­not over­come the in­creased coc­cidia chal­lenge as­so­ci­ated with in­creased bird den­si­ties. Main­te­nance of an ap­pro­pri­ate stock­ing den­sity in the broiler house will di­rectly im­pact the coc­cidial chal­lenge con­fronted by each bird.


The pe­riod of time be­tween flocks in a broiler house can sig­nif­i­cantly af­fect the vi­a­bil­ity of coc­cidial oocysts in the lit­ter. Down­times of one week or less can con­trib­ute to coc­cidial chal­lenges be­cause most oocysts can re­main vi­able for sev­eral days.

Many prop­erly man­aged pro­duc­tion oper­a­tions use down­times of two weeks, al­low­ing the lit­ter to dry out, which re­duces chal­lenges of both coc­cidial and mi­cro­bial or­gan­isms.

Tem­per­a­ture reg­u­la­tion

Re­duc­ing stress plays an im­por­tant role in a bird’s abil­ity to cope with

disease chal­lenges. Broil­ers are raised most ef­fi­ciently when en­vi­ron­men­tal tem­per­a­tures match the bird’s needs at each stage of growth. Chilling of birds can re­duce the abil­ity of broil­ers to fight in­fec­tions, while heat stress can also weaken the im­mune sys­tem. Both sit­u­a­tions in­crease birds’ sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to a va­ri­ety of pathogens, in­clud­ing coc­cidia. High am­bi­ent tem­per­a­tures may also de­press feed con­sump­tion and an­tic­oc­cidial in­take, lead­ing to de­creased coc­cidial con­trol.

Health pro­grams

Con­cur­rent health pro­grams must con­trol other in­fec­tious agents such as bac­te­ria, viruses, and fungi. Vi­ral vac­ci­na­tion pro­grams should em­pha­sise in­fec­tious bur­sal disease and other im­muno­sup­pre­sive dis­eases, as well as the ma­jor res­pi­ra­tory viruses. Suc­cess­ful, com­pre­hen­sive health pro­grams help en­sure that the im­mune sys­tem is re­spon­sive to coc­cidia ex­po­sure and, in al­liance with the an­tic­oc­cidial, able to limit the eco­nomic im­pact of coccidiosis. Res­pi­ra­tory dis­eases usu­ally re­sult in de­pres­sion of feed and an­tic­oc­cidial con­sump­tion, fur­ther il­lus­trat­ing the im­por­tance of con­trol­ling these dis­eases.


Good flow man­age­ment is a pre­req­ui­site for op­ti­mal bird health, help­ing to main­tain a func­tional, re­spon­sive im­mune sys­tem that is crit­i­cal for suc­cess­ful coc­cidia con­trol. Man­age­ment fac­tors that sig­nif­i­cantly im­pact the suc­cess of coccidiosis con­trol pro­grams in­clude feed qual­ity, mois­ture re­moval, bird den­sity, down­time be­tween flocks, tem­per­a­ture reg­u­la­tion, and con­cur­rent health pro­grams. These fac­tors help en­sure ad­e­quate drug con­tent in the feed, en­cour­age feed con­sump­tion, re­duce coc­cidia pop­u­la­tions in the lit­ter, limit stress, and pre­vent com­pli­cat­ing bac­te­rial and vi­ral in­fec­tions. Qual­ity man­age­ment helps cre­ate and main­tain an en­vi­ron­ment where an­tic­oc­cidi­als can per­form their job most ef­fec­tively.¡

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