Coccidiosis continues to be a challenge for poultry, cattle and pig production worldwide. This singular pathogen causes an enormous economic burden to the industry. Vaccines & chemical coccidiostats (anticoccidials) are widely used with a great variety of results.

Numerous concerns have arisen concerning the use of chemical coccidiosis deterrents, namely that these drugs can enter the wider food chain causing antibiotic resistance as well as other health concerns not limited to adverse effects from exposure.

Though governments have tried to intervene, this article suggests that natural, plant-based anticoccidials can safely replace chemical deterrents, thus protecting human and animal health and saving billions for this industry at large while also promoting the sustainability of cattle, poultry, and pig production.

Examples of the published side effects of chemical coccidiostats

Before describing the solution that may be possible in natural anticoccidials, it is helpful to look at the problem of chemical anticoccidials with more specificity.

It has been suggested that residues of ionophores in food could cause adverse effects on the health of humans. These substances possess potent cardiovascular properties (KabellETAL, 1979; Fahim and Pressman, 1981).

Inotropic effects of lasalocid, the antibacterial drug commonly found in feed additives called Bovatec and Avatec, has been found in vitro, damaging the human heart muscle. (Levy and Inesi, 1974).

Another chemical anticoccidial, narasin, has been found to pass into an egg yolk, meaning the drug will easily pass into human food supplies (Catherman ET AL, 1991).

Yet another, Decoquinate, is only absorbed to a small extent (SemanETAL, 1989) and is reported to have very low toxicity (Fowler, 1995). Low toxicity is also reported for diclazuril (Fowler, 1995), however, Amprolium, may be found in eggs up to 10 days after withdrawal from animal feed (Kan ET AL, 1989).

Amprolium is reported to be fairly atoxic, and it is not permitted in the feed after the beginning of egg laying. Passage of halofuginone into eggs has also been reported (Lindsay and Blagburn, 1995).

For some substances, such as lasalocid, maduramicin, narasin and halofuginone, withdrawal times are shorter in Swedish national regulations than in EU. Their ionophores may cause irritation and allergic reactions in humans (Mancuso et al 1995, Fowler 1995).

Moreover, ionophores are toxic for many non-target species. Some interact with antibiotics and chemotherapeutics which may increase the risk of intoxication.

With this cursory evidence presented, it is clear that some kind of toxicity is inevitable with the use of chemical anticoccidials. When humans consume meat, eggs, milk and other products of animals which feed on these chemicals, their health is put at risk.

Additionally, the environment including bodies of water such as rivers, streams, lakes, oceans, and the soil also become contaminated. The extent of this contamination is widely researched in many countries (Environmental Government of Japan, et al. Tokyo, 2017).

What is widely understood by the scientific evidence presented is that far too little is known about the degradation of chemical anticoccidials, their metabolites, and the effect of the compounds over the long-term. (Alistair B. A. Boxall, et al. 2003).

A plant-based solution

A natural plant based product, Coxynil was compared to established chemical coccidiostats and the finding is summarised and analysed as such:

In a university trial by Federal University of Paraná, Biologic sciences sector, department of physiology, Brazil in 2003, Coxynil was compared against Monensin with or without vaccine with following results (figure 1):

EPM – Average standard error; CV – Variation Coefficient; P > 0,05

Researchers: Prof Dr Ana Vitória Fischer da Silva, Prof Dr Alex Maiorka, Prof Dr Elizabeth Santin & Prof Dr Sebastiao Aparecido Borges at Federal University of Paraná, Biologic sciences sector, department of physiology - Natural Anticoccidial (Coxynil) for broilers.

Additional research (10) was conducted at the Department of Pathology, Bombay Veterinary College, Parel, Mumbai, India, to study the pathological and immunological changes in Broilers following experimental coccidial infection and to evaluate the effects of Coxynil – a herbal coccidiostat Vs. Salinomycin on these changes and overall performance (figure 2).

Coxynil proved to be extremely beneficial over Salinomycin in terms of body weight gain, feed intake, feed conversion ratio and immunity parameters. Highlights of the conclusion include:

Coxynil (Herbal) medicated groups revealed higher titers than Salinomycin treated birds.

Coxynil (Herbal) had beneficial effects on weight gain, feed intake, feed conversion ratio and reduced the severity of lesions. It was effective as a feed additive and natural coccidiostat.

In yet another study (9) on Efficacy of coxynil as herbal anticoccidial, published in Journal of Veterinary Parasitology, 26(1) 2012: 75-76, the following was found.

With Coxynil (Liquid), wherein Broiler birds with established Cecal coccidiosis were treated with Coxynil Liquid successfully and OPG were observed post treatment:

"A remarkable decrease in faecal OPG was observed which became zero in 10 days in all eight samples. Similarly decrease in OPG in litter material was also observed showed (Table1). Periodic observation of the flock showed general improvement of health condition of birds. There was significant reduction in sporulation percentage after treatment. From the third day onwards, no sporulation of oocysts was observed."

Coxynil as a herbal deterrent on goats

A case of Coccidiosis in Kids (Osmanabadi, an Indian Meat Speciality breed of Goats), aged about three to four months was reported to Parasitology Department, Nagpur Veterinary College, Nagpur on February 2, 2001.

Animals under observation were numbered from one to 10. 10 animals were tested for coccidial oocysts per gram of faeces and their readings (mixed infection of Eimeria ninakohlyakimovae and Eimeria parva) are as under:

Animal No. - Oocysts per gram, Number of faeces

1 30000

2 33000

3 40000

4 25000

5 27000

6 38000

7 30000

8 31000

9 29000

10 20000

The clinical symptom was severe diaorrhea with greenish color with very heavy infection. Coxynil was given at 25 mg per kg of body weight - Kids were weighing about three to four kg - for simplicity Coxynil was added at 100 mg per kid - given as single dosage.

On February 3, 2001, that is the next day, Oocysts count per gramme of faeces was as under:

1 6000

2 4000

3 5000

4 7000

5 3000

6 4000

7 3000

8 6000

9 2000

10 1000

On February 4, 2001, Oocysts count was reduced significantly. Very few numbers of oocysts were seen only by sedimentation technique.

On February 5, 2001, all faecal samples were found negative for oocysts by sedimentation technique. The test was repeated on February 6-7-8, 2001, where the reading was found to the same.

Coxynil was given for five days continuously i.e. from February 2-6, 2001. The case study was carried out by Dr S.W. Kolte, Assistant Professor, Parasitology and Dr N.V. Kurkure, Assistant Professor, Pathology both of Nagpur Veterinary College, Nagpur, India.

A case study on "Coxynil" in coccidiosis in sheep

A case of coccidiosis in Adult Sheep, aged about four years was reported to Parasitology Department, Nagpur Veterinary College, Nagpur in March 2001. A total of seven Sheep were observed, average weight being 40kg. The Sheep were tested for coccidial oocysts per gramme of faeces and their readings (mixed infection of Eimeria ninakohlyakimovae and Eimeria parva) were varied between 2000 to 3000 oocysts per gram of faeces (by Stoll"s method).

The clinical symptom was severe diaorrhea with greenish colour with very heavy infection. Coxynil was given only once - at three times the normal dosage - to verify the efficacy at a single dose (normal dosage being at 25 mg per Kg of body weight of 40kg each). Therefore, Coxynil was added at three grammes per Sheep - given as a single dosage.

From the next day onwards, faecal samples were checked everyday up to 15 days, and the faecal oocysts count was Nil. After the 15th day, screening of faecal samples was stopped.

The study concludes efficacy of "Coxynil" in Single dosage (75 mg per Kg of body weight) in Coccidia of Sheep, without any negative side effects.

The case study was carried out by Dr S.W. Kolte, Assistant Professor, Parasitology of Nagpur Veterinary College, Nagpur, India.

A review article was published "Control of Avian Coccidiosis: Future and Present Natural Alternatives" by Hindawi Publishing Corporation BioMed Research International Volume 2015, Article ID 430610, 11 pages.

An open access source "Avian Coccidiosis, New Strategies of Treatment" - By Rosa Estela Quiroz-Castañeda - Published: March 21st 2018 - DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.74008 - lists Coxynil as natural product available.


It is evident that a natural anticoccidial, Coxynil, has been tried and tested against chemical antibacterial agents over a long period and across various geographies.

Such non-chemical products are desperately needed and may be looked at as reliable replacements to the widely used chemical coccidiostats which are prevalent in the industry.

References :

1) Avian Coccidiosis, New Strategies of Treatment

2) Synonyms listing of Coxynil :

3) "Botanicals: an alternative approach for the control of avian coccidiosis" by R.Z. ABBAS1 *, D.D. COLWELL2 and J. GILLEARD3

4) "Chemical Anticoccidials, resistance and residues – Possible natural alternatives"

5) Listing of research papers on coccidiosis :

6) Antibody Response in Broiler Chickens Infected with Different Developmental Stages of Eimeria Tenella

7) Reference on internet on Coxynil :;po=MESH:C514510

8) Publication in Korea about Coxynil : Feed additives in broiler diets to produce healthy chickens without in-feed antimicrobial compounds by Jaehong Yoo, Gun Hee Park, Jong Seung Sung, Honam Song, So young Shin, Won Ho Jung, Jung Min Heo* , Department of Animal Science and Biotechnology, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 305-764, Republic of Korea*/kjoas_201412_025.pdf?_=2&authcred=anVzZXJfY3Jvc3NkYjpKb3VybmFsKTk4




Finally, producers of beef, poultry, eggs, milk, and other animal products will benefit from education about an effective, non-chemical alternative to preventing coccidiosis infections.

by Growell, India

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