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Pullets Reared on Litter - Anticoccidial Drugs

This information is NOT a housing management guide. These sections were created to help explain the relationship between housing and oocyst ingestion. Please consult your veterinarian and bird management guide from the breeding company for housing management information.


General Good Barn Practice – Provide chicks with clean, biosecure housing. Ensure that feed and water are readily available to the chicks when they are placed (1,2). Additionally, proper heat, ventilation and lighting as well as feed and water quality are required for good rearing management (1,2).

Full House Brooding - This brooding method heats the whole house using forced air heaters and the aim is to achieve uniform temperature in the house (1). In this style of brooding (should temperature be adequate), birds should be spread throughout the entire house. Similar to broilers (1) providing 60% paper coverage below the feeder and water lines during the brood phase would provide the extra feed and water spillage needed to stimulate bird activity and appetite as early as possible. If oocysts are in the environment, the spread of birds could reduce the potential for a bird to ingest an infective oocyst. 


Figure 1. Simple diagram illustrating Eimeria oocyst build-up in a full house brooding system.  In full house brooding if oocysts are in the environment, the spread of birds could reduce the potential for a bird to ingest an infective oocysts.


Figure 2. An example of full house brooding using paper coverage over the litter around the feeder and water lines (Picture Credit: Dr. Lloyd Weber).

Physical Environment During Brooding - Chicks during the brood stage are small enough that they may be able to fit in the open feeders. Be aware that these chicks are able to defecate into the feeders and this is another spot where birds can ingest infectious oocysts if present in the feces. Additionally, nipple cups attached to drinkers are also potential reservoirs for oocysts.


Figure 3. An image of a chick resting in an open feeder.  Note the fecal droppings inside the feeder (Picture Credit: Dr. Lloyd Weber).

General Good Practice for Coccidiosis Management During Rearing

Litter Management: Keeping the Litter Dry - Make sure the floor is warm and dry prior to spread shavings or straw and placing birds in the barn. Be sure the bedding (shavings or straw) starts off dry. Be aware of leaky drinkers and flushing birds. If necessary, remove “cakey” litter (areas of localized high moisture).

Leaky Drinkers - A nipple drinker in a broiler barn can have at least 1 million hits during an entire growing cycling. This wear and tear on the drinker over time can cause the drinkers to leak. Leaky drinkers cause localized areas of high moisture which can be a good spot for above average oocyst sporulation. Be cautious of these areas as there may be infective oocyst build-up.


Figure 4. Examples of leaky drinkers and dirty drinker cups (A-C) for birds reared on litter.  Be cautious of localized areas of high moisture due to leaky drinkers (B, C) and dirty drinker cups (A) that can be potential reservoirs for oocysts (Picture Credits: Dr. Lloyd Weber).


1. Anonymous. Ross Broiler Management Manual. In. Aviagen. 2009.  Access HERE.

2. Anonymous. Layer management guide: Lohmann LSL Classic. In. Lohmann Tierzucht GmBh. 2005.