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Turkeys Reared on Litter - Anticoccidial Drugs

This 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.


Large Ring/Whole Room Brooding (1) – This brooding method does not confine birds near to the point heat source and with good heating the birds should spread out in barn/large ring. There would be no increased bird density so the transmission rate of infective oocyst ingestion would be reduced (but not eliminated). With preventative anticoccidial drug use this brooding method may help to keep the litter dry and the oocyst insult lower. 


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

Physical Environment During Brooding: Litter – Note that some oocysts may fall between the litter used and if birds do not peck or scratch at the area in which the oocyst fell it may be lost to the bird.

Physical Environment During Brooding: Feeders and Bell Drinkers – Poults during the brood stage are small enough that they may be able to fit in the open feeders. Be aware that these poults are able to defecate into the feeders. Should the feces contain oocysts this is another spot where birds can ingest infectious oocysts. Additionally, bell drinkers are another potential reservoir for oocysts.

General Good Practice for Coccidiosis Management

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 - 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.

Physical barn environment: Wet Phase of Turkey Production - The wet phase of turkey production can occur between 6 and 9 weeks of age, in part due to a vegetable diet (e.g. more soybeans or canola and no meat meal). This flushing can increase litter moisture to a point where oocyst sporulation may be fast and overwhelming. Be cautious of this time and, if necessary, remove “cakey” litter (areas of localized high moisture).


Figure 2. Examples of leaky drinkers (A) and dirty bell cups (B) for turkeys reared on litter.  Be cautious of localized areas of high moisture due to leaky drinkers (A).  Dirty bell drinkers (B) can be potential reservoirs for oocysts (Picture Credits: Dr. Lloyd Weber).


1. Anonymous. Commercial Management Guide. In. Hybrid: A Hendrix Genetics Company. 2013. Access HERE.