Managing coccidial risk in livestock: Natural and effective products to meet the need for sustainable solutions


Advancements and Challenges in Poultry Production:

The economic impact of coccidiosis

Over the last few decades, the performance of poultry production has improved considerably, thanks to major advances in genetics, feed and rearing parameters. The intensive production system, characterized by high stocking densities and large numbers of birds, is leading to an increase in challenges. One of the many challenges that threaten poultry productivity, particularly in broilers, is coccidial risk. Its annual cost is estimated at around 12 billion euros worldwide or 0,19€/broiler (Blake et al., 2020). This figure includes losses during production (mortality, reduced growth, and poor FCR), the cost of coccidiostat additives in feed, and the cost of curative treatment with veterinary drugs when prophylaxis fails. 

Ionophores & Synthetic coccidiostats:

Development of resistance

Widely used for decades to manage coccidial risk, synthetic coccidiostats and ionophores are reference solutions. They offer a very attractive efficacy/price ratio.

However, intensive use of these anticoccidials increases the development of resistance. This phenomenon has been known for several years, as evidenced by many studies conducted on the sensitivity of field strains to anticoccidial drugs (Chapman, 2022). A recent study investigated the sensitivity to nicarbazin and a combination of narasin and nicarbazin of 26 isolates of Eimeria, collected from 2003 to 2006 in the USA.  The results show that the isolates were sensitive to nicarbazin but only 22% overall were sensitive to the combination tested. The authors concluded that the decline in sensitivity was due to the over-usage of such drugs for many years in the poultry industry (Bafundo et al, 2008).

Another resistance of common coccidiostats largely used worldwide has been report in Brazil. The sensitivity of field isolates of E. acervulina and E. maxima to 6 different coccidiostats and 2 combinations indicated that strains were resistant or partially resistant to all these compounds (Kraieskli et al, 2021).

Although fighting resistance against anticoccidials is a difficult task, shuttle programs and rotation of compounds are approaches that help prevent or postpone its emergence (Quiroz-Castaneda and Dantan-Gonzalez, 2015).

close up chicken pen
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Natural Plant Extracts as alternatives :

A need for efficient and standardized solutions

New alternatives are emerging, as is the case with natural plant extracts. One of the advantages of using natural extracts is the lower risk of developing resistance (Quiroz-Castaneda and Dantan-Gonzalez, 2015). However, there is a large variability among these natural alternative solutions. It is therefore essential that producers ask for all guarantees from suppliers to ensure that such a transition is conducted safely. This requires standardized products with a proven efficacy over time and on a large scale. This major zootechnical development for the poultry industry is a response to demand. These new alternatives also offer technical and/or economic advantages.

Extracted from last scientific publication made by Dr. Mohammed el Amine BENARBIA, PhD (Nor-Feed), published in Frontiers, 2022.

Saponin-Rich Plant Premixture:

As efficient as Ionophore Monensin in field conditions

Three trials were carried out in three experimental facilities. The same experimental design was applied in each facility. The trials took place in Belgium – Wolvenhof, Poulpharm (Ross 308 breed), the United States – Willington, Colorado, COLORADO QUALITY RESEARCH, INC. (Cobb 500 breed) and Spain – Murcia, IMASDE Campus de Espinardo (Ross 308 breed). These three centers were chosen to consolidate results by maximizing the diversification of production systems.

Chickens were divided into 4 groups:

  • UUC: uninfested, unsupplemented
  • IUC: infested, not supplemented
  • PM: infested, supplemented with 120ppm Monensin
  • PX: infested, supplemented with 250ppm Saponin-Rich Plant Premixture (Norponin XO2

Infestation occurred with sporulated oocysts suspended by oral gavage.

npxo produit

Trial Results

A significant reduction in weight gain was observed in the IUC group, proof that oocyst infestation had worked. Norponin XO was as effective as Monensin in significantly limiting weight loss associated with Eimeria infestation.

Norponin XO is as effective as the ionophore Monensin in the case of experimental Eimeria infestation in broilers