December 19, 2008


UK develops online coccidiosis treatment


An online model developed by UK's University of Reading (UOR) enables producers to weigh up the costs and benefits of different types of treatment for coccidiosis, allowing them to choose the best financial solution for their flock.


It is the first phase of the GBP250,000 (US$377,812) fund Farm Health Planning Project by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs implemented across the industry to develop cost-benefit models to help producers tackle common livestock diseases in the most cost-effective way.


Poultry veterinarian Daniel Parker, who helped develop the model at Slatehall Veterinary Practice in Cambridgeshire, said coccidiosis will affect all types of chickens, but tends to be a problem with younger birds, usually peaking at 28 days in broilers.


Parker said the three main types of coccidiosis - Eimeria tenella, E maxima and E acervulina - all affect the gut, resulting in poor feed conversion ratios, slower growth, and mortality.


The online model enables producers to input farm-specific data such as feed, chick and broiler prices, growth rates, veterinary costs and mortality.


They can then compare the costs and benefits between vaccination and coccidiostats or a combination of the two, for each type of coccidiosis species.


UOR research assistant Isobel McClement said although ccoccidiostats are cheaper and not as effective as vaccination, the financial benefits are definitely greater.


Results will vary according to rearing systems, broiler meat prices and the type and time of infection, so each producer will find a different solution to suit them best.


McClement said the model only estimates the losses at a single point in time and does not take into account problems of resistance to coccidiostats.


She also said the model quantifies the costs of coccidiosis in broiler birds and help farmers to examine the benefits of different treatments in their individual situations.


She said coccidiosis is estimated to cost the industry more than GBP42 million (US$63 million) yearly and opting for the most cost-effective treatment is likely to save individual producers a significant amount of money.

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