Anticoccidial Vaccination of Broiler Chickens in Various Management Programmes: Relationship between Oocyst Accumulation in Litter and the Development of Protective Immunity


Paracox anticoccidial vaccine was administered to a 7-day-old flock of commercial broiler breeder stock subsequently reared to point-of-lay in the same house. For comparison, three subgroups of another flock of broiler breeders were also vaccinated with Paracox at 7 days of age, reared to 42 days and then transferred to new litter on another farm until point-of-lay. The first subgroup received no further treatment, but the second and third each received a second vaccination with Paracox, either immediately after transfer to the new litter or 42 days after transfer. Using an Eimeria necatrix model, protective immunity was demonstrated by virulent challenge of samples of birds from all groups by the age of 37–40 days (30–33 days after the first vaccination), and was maintained to at least 122–125 days of age, whether the birds remained on the same litter or were transferred to another farm, and whether they received one or two anticoccidial vaccinations. Therefore, there is no disadvantage in transferring birds onto new litter 35 days after a single Paracox vaccination, nor is there any advantage in giving a second vaccination after such a transfer. Vaccinated birds seeded the new litter with oocysts, despite being clinically immune to coccidiosis. A supplementary laboratory experiment showed that birds vaccinated at 8 days of age passed almost no oocysts after a second vaccination at 43 days of age. This indicated that they were not only protected against clinical coccidiosis, but were almost solidly immune to a homologous infection 5 weeks after a single vaccination. Nevertheless, oocysts appeared in the litter of all four groups of commercial breeders throughout the trial, showing that wild-type heterologous infections occurred whether the birds were transferred to new litter or not, but these did not overwhelm the acquired protective immunity and cause clinical coccidiosis.

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Williams, R., Johnson, J. & Andrews, S. Anticoccidial Vaccination of Broiler Chickens in Various Management Programmes: Relationship between Oocyst Accumulation in Litter and the Development of Protective Immunity. Vet Res Commun 24, 309–325 (2000).

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  • broiler breeders
  • chickens
  • coccidiosis
  • Eimeria necatrix
  • epidemiology
  • litter
  • oocysts
  • protective immunity
  • vaccines