Big Data: Increasing benefits in the poultry industry by improving coccidiosis vaccination

Big data are already being used to improve operational efficiency, and the ability to make informed decisions based on the very latest up-to-the-moment information is rapidly becoming the mainstream norm. Companies that fail to adapt do so at their own competitive and market risk, and this is also true for farm and hatchery management. But, what about its use for controlling coccidiosis in poultry by vaccination?

In the next post we present 2 different practical-use cases in which companies have successfully used analytics to deliver extraordinary results. In poultry farming we are at the beginning of the big data revolution. But much more needs to be done and taken into account for the future.

Logistics, UPS: UPS makes 16.9 package and document deliveries every day with over 4 billion items shipped per year in almost 100,000 vehicles. With this volume, there are numerous ways UPS uses big data, and one of the applications is for fleet optimization. On-truck telematics and advanced algorithms help with routes, engine idle time, and predictive maintenance. Since starting the programme, UPS has saved over 39 million gallons of fuel and avoided driving 364 million miles. The next steps include completion of the roll-out and applying the operational efficiency to their airplanes.

US XPRESS: A supplier of a wide variety of transportation solutions collects about a thousand data components ranging from fuel usage to tyre condition to truck engine operations to GPS information, and uses these data for optimal fleet management and to drive productivity, saving millions of dollars in operating costs.

These two examples are not so different from farms and hatcheries. The poultry sector also has data and therefore, multiple variables to analyze in order to optimize sustainability and profitability.

Specifically talking about vaccination for the prevention of coccidiosis in poultry, we need to focus our attention on two critical points: administration (which most of the time takes place at hatchery level) and the development of immunity after administration, which involves factors and variables connected with the farm environment.

Starting with administration itself, Hipraspray® is the first device ever developed for the administration of the Eimeria vaccines EVALON® and HIPRACOX®. As regards the improvements and innovation of HIPRASPRAY®, compared to other devices already on the market, the following points can be mentioned:

1 Automatic adjustment of pressure and of the volume administered

2 Stirrer included in the design

3 Automatic calibration according to the size of the box

4 An intelligent and low-maintenance vaccination device

Last, but not least is traceability and control during vaccination. The ability to trace the entire vaccine application process is the result of the ability of Hipraspray® to link up with a data network and send and receive all the information relating to the vaccination.

This requires the HIPRAlink® software, which links the information created regarding sessions and planning of vaccination dates with the vaccination process, with the possibility of receiving information on vaccination in real time. Traceability works on two levels:

A) At hatchery level:

HIPRAlink® software makes it possible to “plan”, “control” and “analyze” the data relating to the vaccination process. In terms of planning, the software is able to create reminders in the calendar (how many pullets/chicks are going to be vaccinated, how many doses are going to be administered, final producers etc.). These reminders are synchronized and HIPRASPRAY® receives this information as a Vaccination order.

When the device is vaccinating, at the same time it is tracing the whole process. At hatchery level, Hipraspray® creates a database with all the information relating to the vaccination sessions: the start time and end time, the vaccine batch number, applied doses, animals per box, doses per box, additional data on the animals, destination, operator of the device, etc. In this way, this software provides the opportunity to control and analyze the data such as which final producer has been sent more animals, which device was working more, the activity time of each device etc…

B) At final producer level:

at this level, the final customer will reap the benefit of traceability. HIPRAlink® generates traceability reports showing all the information relating to the EVALON® and HIPRACOX® Eimeria vaccines and the number of vials and doses applied at the time vaccination is carried out.

Carrying on with the development of immunity at farm level, here, too, we find many variables that can influence the correct development of immunity after vaccination. For this reason, at Hipra, we have a department working exclusively with multivariate analysis. In order to build the coccidia network, we need to know the important variables (or factors) that would affect vaccination or the result of the vaccination.

Now, assuming that we have everything under control at the hatchery, and the chicks will shed the oocysts properly, how can we guarantee the results on the farm?

Let´s see some important factors that can affect the coccidiosis vaccination results. In order to sporulate, we need a certain degree of moisture in the litter. Therefore, we have the litter as an important factor as well as the moisture. The moisture is associated with climate (dry or wet season, cold or hot), drinker: type or model.

The type of feed, can it have an impact on reaction and shedding? The immune status of the chick: presence of mycotoxins, subclinical Gumboro or chicken anaemia, infectious pressure of field Eimeria strains, number of flocks vaccinated in the same house, is it the first? Second? Third?

Of course, if you have everything under control, the probability of vaccination success will be highest, let us say 99.99% (because, as you know, it is biology and it is better not to use 100%).

HIPRA has created a tool to determine the probability of success of vaccination with Hipracox® and without anticoccidials, called HIPRAstats for Coccidia. You just need to enter the status of the important variables for coccidia vaccination and the output is the chance of successful vaccination against coccidiosis.

It also provides comments on the most important issues and shows how the result may vary by resolving these opportunities for improvement.

In this way, every day we record more and more data and this – in time – will turn into Big Data. Failing to also exploit this huge source of information for the control of coccidiosis by vaccination is a risk that HIPRA has decided not to take.



Following the series of post about “Getting to know better our enemy, the Strep. uberis“, now that we’ve identified its presence it’s time to see what the experts say about preventing frustrating mastitis in dairy cows.


Hygiene in Husbandry Conditions

An intramammary infection is initially preceded by contamination of the teats or the udder surface, whereby in indoor housing the risk of contamination during the inter-milking periods is determined by the design of the lying surfaces, the space per cow, the bedding material, the frequency of bedding addition, cleaning and disinfecting as well as the cows´ length of stay in the cubicles.

The fact that the rate of infection with environmental bovine mastitis is highest during the summer months accounts for increased bacterial counts in the bedding material. The indicator for the optimization effort in hygiene of the resting area is the cleanliness of the teats.

The objective should be for more than 90% of the animals to have only a few coarse dirt particles on the teats, which can be removed by simply wiping with a disposable towel or something similar. Feeding imbalances as well as fluctuations in the dry matter intake of the animals seem to be associated with the exacerbation of clinical Strep. uberis mastitis in dairy cows.


Machine milking can lead to the invasion of Strep. uberis into the glands, which can be avoided by carefully cleaning the teats prior to milking. This can, but does not have to, be carried out by means of disinfecting measures before milking.

A crucial point is that about 95% of the teats leave no or only slightly yellowish residues on the disinfecting cloth with which they have had contact before the milking clusters are attached.

Careful cleaning of the milking machine can be crucial when preventing mastitis in dairy cows.


Usually, Strep. uberis is sensitive to penicillin preparations and other ß-lactams and the MICs of penicillin preparations and other β-lactams are low for Strep. uberis. Several studies show that an extension of the therapy period up to eight days is useful to increase the bacteriological cure rate (especially in young animals).

The administration of oxytocin or performing additional milkings is not recommended, as these measures additionally increase the proliferation rate of Strep. uberis in the mammary gland. The successful treatment of intramammary infections caused by Strep. uberis is crucial in the dry period (antibiotic dry cow therapy and the prevention of such infections in the same period (teat sealer, hygienic husbandry conditions, control of hypocalcaemia, avoidance of loss of body mass during the dry period)) and lactation.


Strep. uberis is one of the most important causative pathogens for clinical mastitis in dairy cows, and in many countries of the world, responsible for as many as one third of all clinical bovine mastitis cases. Strep. uberis is known for a set of virulence factors including biofilm formation. It is a ubiquitous microorganism, which colonizes animals as well as their environment.

The cases of clinical mastitis caused by Strep. uberis are clearly associated with hygiene (cleanliness and dryness) in husbandry, feeding and machine milking. (Extended) antibiotic therapy is effective but is often followed by new infections, often with another Strep. uberis strain.

Therefore, an effective vaccine, which primarily reduces the clinical exacerbation, would be of great benefit.

Adapted from Volker Krömker,

University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Hannover, Germany


In previous posts, we talked about the importance of knowing which pathogen is causing the bovine mastitis problem in your farm. Recent publications have shown an increase in the prevalence of Strep uberis in Europe. With the aim of knowing more about this pathogen, we share with you this publication of Doctor Volker Krömker to learn a little bit more of this pathogen.

Improved management on modern dairy farms decreases the relevance of subclinical mastitis. Clinical bovine mastitis is still a common and costly disease on dairy farms all over the world (IDF, 2005; Hogeveen et al., 2011). For several years, Streptococcus (Strep.) uberis has been the most important causative pathogen for clinical mastitis in many countries of the world (Fig. 1):

Fig. 1: Relative importance of Strep. uberis in bacteriologically positive clinical mastitis samples

(23 herds – Northwest Germany – n = 1739 cases)


On blood agar plates, Strep. uberis grows at 30 to 37°C. Colonies have a diameter of 1 to 2 mm after an incubation period of 24 to 48 hrs. Adding 0.1% aesculin to the medium enhances bacteria identification, as Strep. uberis and enterococci hydrolyse aesculin to glucose and aesculetin. Examination under ultraviolet light confirms this reaction.

Growth of Strep. uberis on blood agar plate. Source: V. Krömker

At present, many routine laboratories do not selectively differentiate Strep. uberis. Due to the rising cost pressure of high frequency analyses such as the microbiological investigation of quarter foremilk samples for bovine mastitis pathogens, identification is often limited to aesculin-hydrolysing streptococci, failing to differentiate Strep. uberis and enterococci or to identify aesculin-negative streptococci.

Several virulence factors are known for Strep. uberis. However, there are considerable differences in the exhibition of virulence factors between the various isolates. Biofilm formation is an important virulence factor that may cause recurrent or persistent mastitis in cattle by impairing the host immune defence and through the protection of antimicrobial substances. Nearly 100% of Strep. uberis strains are able to produce biofilms in vitro. Moreover, the enzymes produced by Strep. uberis seem to play a decisive role in the distribution of infections with this pathogen, which is able to impede the proper development of the mammary gland and to induce the formation of capsules in the tissue.


Strep. uberis is a ubiquitous microorganism, which colonizes animals as well as their environment. Environmental streptococci are responsible for about one third of all clinical mastitis in dairy cows cases. The pathogens enter the mammary gland via the teat canal. High pathogen levels in the animals’ environment increase the infection rates. Zadoks et al. (2005) found that Strep. uberis was present in 63% of environmental samples (i.e. earth, vegetable material and bedding), in 23% of faecal samples and 4% of milk samples. During summer (grazing season), contamination rates in bovine faeces are higher than in other seasons. Straw and other organic bedding material enhance the growth of Strep. uberis. If several cows in the same herd are infected, it is quite unlikely that all infections are caused by one identical Strep. uberis strain. Udder infections, which are caused by one dominant Strep. uberis strain, tend to persist on the farm for a longer period than udder infections caused by a multitude of strains. Most infections do not last a long time (16-46 days).


The cases of clinical mastitis in dairy cows caused by Strep. uberis are clearly associated with hygiene (cleanliness and dryness) in husbandry, feeding and machine milking. Strep. uberis infections of the mammary gland can occur during the dry period (evaluation of the new infection rate in the dry period) and often develop an acute course in the following lactation. Straw and other organic bedding materials promote the growth of Strep. uberis.



Udder quarters that have recovered from infection with Strep. uberis or other microorganisms exhibit an elevated risk of reinfection. Recent research has shown that Strep. uberis mastitis is often followed by recurrent Strep. uberis bovine mastitis in cases. Strain typing techniques have shown that most of these cases are new infections. Often misinterpreted as unsuccessful treatment, recurrent mastitis cases show that it is not the treatment that is the problem, but the fact that an infection increases the risk of new infections.

Adapted from Volker Krömker, Microbiology,

University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Hannover, Germany




To understand better the mastitis in cattle, the authors thought that a brief introduction of the udder physiology and anatomy is needed. We will review it and also the natural mechanism of the udder and the milk composition.

The udder is composed of 4 anatomically separate mammary glands, or quarters, divided left from right by the suspensory ligament and anterior from posterior by a thin membrane.

The milk is produced in the alveoli and is transported through a duct system to the cisterns (udder and teat) where it is stored before finally being evacuated during the milking. 70% of the milk is stored in the alveoli, while the other 30% remains in the udder cistern.

Each alveolus is fed by an arteriole which contains blood with all the elements needed for milk production. The cells that cover the alveolus segregate milk, transforming the elements from the blood into milk components (lactose, protein, fat).

“To produce 1 litre of milk, 500 litres of blood must pass through the udder.”

Surrounding each alveolus are the myoepithelial cells, which are tiny muscles that squeeze the alveolus to let the milk out during milking.

This is called milk let-down and is stimulated:

Physically (preparation of the udder before attaching the milking machine).

And by the environment (cows waiting to be milked), activating a whole series of hormonal events. This stimulation sends signals to the brain to produce oxytocin. The oxytocin goes through the circulatory system and takes around 1-2 minutes to reach the udder. Negative stimuli (stress in the cows) causes the release of adrenaline, which contracts the blood vessels and reduces the effect of the oxytocin.

An intramammary infection (IMI) can cause permanent damage in the secretory tissue, which can be replaced by scar tissue, decreasing milk production.


The teat cistern and the gland cistern are connected by the annular ring. The teat canal is surrounded by muscle in the form of a sphincter which has the function of closing teat canal.

Genetic selection for higher yielding and faster milking cows to improve the efficiency of milk harvesting has resulted in an increased risk of new intramammary infections. Higher yielding cows tend to be “faster milking” with higher peak flow rates, in part due to a more open teat canal, resulting in increased infection risk compared to lower yielding “harder to milk” lower peak flow rate cows.

The internal part of the teat canal is covered by keratin. Any bacteria present in the teat canal tend to be trapped in this keratin and both are removed during the milking process. The keratin will be replaced and in a well milked cow the production and removal of Keratin are in balance.

“A poorly set up or badly maintained milking machine can upset this balance resulting in excessive keratin production and removal a condition known as hyperkeratosis.”

Udder conformation is critical for ease of milking. The teat end is an important first line defence against new intramammary infections and if damaged not only can this defence be compromised but the teat end may then harbour mastitis pathogens such as S. aureus.


The value of milk produced on a dairy farm is based on both quality and composition. In order to maximise milk price the following parameters need to be optimized.

A | Physical and chemical composition

For milk contracts where milk is to be processed (for example into cheese or butter) a high concentration of fat or protein (specifically casein in the production of cheese) will add value. Other contracts focus on volume where litres of production are more important than the concentration of fat or protein.

B | Somatic cell count (SCC)

Somatic cells are leukocytes plus epithelial cells. When an infection occurs, leads to an increase in SCC in milk, which indicates that there is an inflammatory reaction occurring.

However, there are some exceptions; for example, a cow with a SCC of 50,000 might be infected and another with 300,000 may be healthy. This can occur when mastitis is caused by S. aureus – we may see a low SCC (big variations) but bacteriologically, the cow is infected. A sudden increase in the SCC frequently indicates a new infection, while a continuous increase is normally a sign of chronic infection. Bulk-tank somatic cell count (BTSCC) or herd SCC gives an indication of prevalence or proportion of infected cows within a herd.

As a rule of thumb for every 100,000 cells per ml increase in BTSCC there is a 10% increase in the proportion of infected cows within the herd.

BTSCC targets will vary from country to country and herd to herd however a 400,000 cells/ml upper legal limit for milk to be used for human consumption is common in many countries.

C | Bacteriology

Milk is a very good substrate for bacteria and for sanitary reasons, levels of bacteria (colony forming units – CFUs) must be controlled. We can classify the infection according to the parameters below.

CFUs and BTSCC thresholds are determined from a 3 month geometrical mean (the nth root of the product of n numbers). With these parameters, mainly with the somatic cell count, we can calculate the sanitary index.

To have a healthy herd, it’s a good idea to at least do one individual cow SCC recording every month.

Content originally created for “the Mastipedia”, authors: Rafael Ortega, Roger Guix, Daniel Zalduendo.


SUMMARY: owing to the fact that bovine mastitis is a multifactorial disease (like other diseases in any farming production), a holistic approach is needed in order to take every opportunity to prevent bovine mastitis.

Bovine mastitis is a multifactorial disease. Like many other diseases in livestock, not only do infections cause mastitis in dairy cows, but nutrition, management, environment etc., are also important factors to be taken into account in the prevention of bovine mastitis.

This holistic approach is needed in order to have a minimum opportunity of success in the control of mastitis in cattle.

But bovine mastitis is probably the paradigm of cost-limited factors in any farming production. It is globally admitted that mastitis is the most costly disease on dairy farms, with a 7-9% shortfall in dairy revenue. So prevention should be considered crucial in order to avoid these losses.

Multifactorial diseases in farm animals are quite common amongst the different food-producing species. For example, diarrhoea in piglets or lambs is also well known in farming production, as are diseases with multiple and different origins.

In addition to good management practices, vaccination plays a key role in the control of these

multifactorial diseases. Of course, very good diagnostic tools are needed to select the right vaccine in order to avoid mistakes. But in modern farming operations, vaccines are widely used as the principal tool together with other good production practices.

Dairy farming is becoming more and more professional everywhere. The quality standards required by final consumers and dairy industries force dairy farmers to produce in accordance with the highest quality requirements, and this means vaccination.

Nowadays we have several vaccines available for the prevention of different bovine and small ruminants mastitis. And soon we’ll have a new vaccine available for the control of Streptococcus uberis mastitis in cattle.

The use of vaccines for mastitis prevention has to be the key to solving the dilemma of mastitis prevention in ruminants. Sooner or later the rate of vaccination will be comparable to other farming species, and dairy farmers will be considered high level professionals together with swine or poultry farmers.

Author: Javier Sanz Martin , Marketing director at HIPRA

Anticoccidial Eimeria vaccines for poultry: where are we coming from and what is next? (Part II)

Live Eimeria vaccines have been widely used in poultry for more than 50 years now and we already described the differences among each other in a previous post (Part I). Since the 80s, attempts to develop next-generation recombinant coccidiosis vaccines have led to the identification of several candidate antigens (Blake et al. 2017). In spite of this, no recombinant Eimeria vaccine has been brought to market so far. So has anything new come to market since the 1950’s?

The reality is that nothing more than classic live Eimeria vaccines has been developed since the 1950s when the first coccidiosis vaccine reached the market. At first glance, if we think about all the other vaccines that have been brought to market in the meantime – both viral and bacterial -, and given that recombinant vaccines have been available for almost a decade now, it seems that research in the field of Eimeria vaccines has failed to keep pace.

Of course, this is not true and there has recently been one important step forward in the field of coccidiosis vaccines. In fact, HIPRA was the first company in the world to introduce the concept of immunomodulation in a live vaccine and more specifically an Eimeria live vaccine: EVALON®. So why use an immunomodulator for a live coccidiosis vaccine?

The reason is very simple: in order to survive, the Eimeria parasite fights back. In fact, it has evasion mechanisms that are able to play with immunity and, in this way, it is able to elicit a type of immunity that is not protective and effective (Jang 2011, Schmid 2014, Miska 2013).

Using immunomodulation, we use an adjuvant that make the vaccine work better, as this adjuvant triggers the type of immunity (cell-mediated) that is important for a protective immune response against Eimeria.

Specifically, the action of the adjuvant used in EVALON®’s HIPRAMUNE®T leads the immune response towards more effective immune mechanisms: the Th1 and Th2 responses need to be balanced and this is what the immunomodulator does. Results obtained from experimental trials indicate that HIPRAMUNE®T is able to increase the level of Th1 cytokines, as indicated by the results obtained for IL-2. Regarding IFN-gamma, statistically significantly higher levels were detected on different days both in the mucosa and Peyer’s patches. In contrast, levels of IL-4 and IL-10 were equal or lower when the group receiving EVALON® plus HIPRAMUNE®T was compared to the group receiving EVALON® alone. These results confirm the ability of HIPRAMUNE®T to stimulate a cellular immune response. It is therefore hypothesized that EVALON®, when administered together with HIPRAMUNE®T, is able to polarize the immune response towards a Th1 response.

Moreover, we have seen that HIPRAMUNE®T’s immunomodulator is also able to balance the Th1 and Th2 responses throughout almost the whole of the birds’ lives. In fact, in the duration of immunity trial we saw protection for up to 60 weeks after vaccination.

Coccidiosis vaccines using live Eimeria parasites are surely an effective alternative to anticoccidials. They are able to elicit a robust protective immunity after ingestion and re-cycling of the vaccine oocysts in the litter. However, very often this re-cycling can be hindered by several factors: dry conditions of the litter, low densities or production facilities (e.g. aviary systems, slats, etc…). It is exactly under these ever-increasing circumstances that the presence of an immunomodulator is of paramount importance as it can drive the development of the immunity towards a cell-mediated one even when the correct replication of the vaccine cannot take place completely.


Blake D.P., Pastor-Fernández I., Nolan M.J., Tomley F. (2017). Recombinant anticoccidial vaccines – a cup half full? Infection, Genetics and Evolution Nov; 55: 358-365.

Jang S.I., Lillehoj H.S., Lee S.H., Kim D.K., Pagès M., Hong Y.H., Min W., Lillehoj E.P. (2011). Distinct immunoregulatory properties of macrophage migration inhibitory factors encoded by Eimeria parasites and their chicken host. Vaccine Nov 8; 29 (48): 8998-9004.

Miska K.B., Kim S., Fetterer R.H., Dalloul R.A., Jenkins M.C. (2013). Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) of the protozoan parasite Eimeria influences the components of the immune system of its host, the chicken. Parasitol Res. May; 112(5): 1935-44.

Schmid M. , Heitlinger E. , Spork S. , Mollenkopf H.-J. , Lucius R. and Gupta N. (2014). Eimeria falciformis infection of the mouse caecum identifies opposing roles of IFNƳ-regulated host pathways for the parasite development. Mucosal Immunology Dec 7; 969–982.

Anticoccidial Eimeria vaccines for poultry: where are we coming from and what is next? (Part I)

Eimeria vaccines have been widely used in poultry since the early 1950’s and their advantages have been clearly shown. In spite of this, there are some differences between them -attenuation, composition, administration route-, but they all consist of live parasites that need to undergo two and sometimes three entire life cycles inside the host gut in order to trigger the immune system and subsequently establish full protective immunity.

There are both live non-attenuated and attenuated Eimeria vaccines on the market. Live non-attenuated vaccines consist of parasites that still maintain their natural virulence. Control of the development of adverse reactions (coccidiosis disease) is achieved by using low numbers of oocysts in vaccine preparations and in some cases even by the use of anticoccidials to control the excessive spread of vaccine strains. This strategy of “controlled exposure” allows protective immunity to develop before the contamination of litter with non-attenuated oocysts becomes severe.

Live attenuated Eimeria vaccines are specifically designed to generate an immune response whilst limiting the threat of possible adverse events. The most widely used attenuation system is the selection of strains by precocious development (Jeffers 1975), although attenuation via passages on embryonated eggs has also been used in E. tenella for some commercial live attenuated vaccines. There can therefore be different grades of attenuation due to the use of different attenuation processes.

As regards the composition of the Eimeria vaccine, this depends mainly on the category of birds for which the vaccine has been developed: broilers or breeders and layers. In spite of this, the main core of any vaccine should contain at least Eimeria acervulina, E. maxima and E. tenella, as these are species affecting all the birds. E. mitis and E. praecox have very fast biological life cycles within the host and this is closely related to their effect in the first weeks of production cycles. Thus, the impact of these Eimeria species is relevant for broilers but very limited for breeders and layers. In fact, the growth rate and weight gain within the first weeks of life in breeders and layers is quite irrelevant and even later on (from 3-4 weeks) the weight is monitored and the feed administered is restricted.

On the other hand, in the case of long life cycle birds such as breeders and layers, it is necessary to include E. necatrix and E. brunetti in the composition of Eimeria vaccines.

In addition, two species of Eimeria – in the past considered as separate species – are no longer included by the scientific community in the list of Eimeria species affecting Gallus gallus:

• Eimeria hagani – described only once by Levine 1938;

• E. mivati, which appeared to be a mixture of E. mitis and E. acervulina (M. W. Shirley et al. 1983, V. Vrba et al. 2011).

However, both species are still present in a commercial vaccine registered on the American Continent.

Finally, regarding administration methods, a number of different ones have been developed for live Eimeria vaccines. The first ones included:

Drinking water: the best equipment to be used are bell-type drinkers. Usually one drinker is required for 100-150 chicks. In some cases, even pipeline systems have been used, but they are not suitable. In fact, when pipeline nipple drinkers are used, the risk is always that the vaccinal oocysts, due to their weight, become trapped in some angles of the line or in the biofilm that usually forms all along the lines.

On-feed spray: it should be pointed out that temperatures on farms are high on day 0, thus the time from vaccination to ingestion of feed becomes crucial. If this time is too long, vaccine oocysts may die from desiccation before the chicks can ingest them;

Eye drops: this is an individual method that can be very accurate, but due to the need for skilled labour it has fallen out of use, although it is still used in a few countries.

More recently:

Oral Gel/ Rain Gel: another delivery method is the incorporation of vaccine in a coloured gel that is placed in chick trays at the hatchery or on feed trays in the poultry house immediately after placement. However, this method can lead to non-uniform distribution of the oocysts inside the gel and consequently uneven intake of the vaccine.

In-ovo injection of sporulated oocysts into 18-day-old embryonated eggs. In-ovo administration has several distinct advantages, including the increased accuracy and repeatability of vaccine delivery. However, for this route of administration, a specific in-ovo machine adapted to deliver oocysts into the amniotic cavity of embryos is needed.

Coarse spray administration of 1-day-old chicks is probably the most common method and consists of spraying the vaccine over the chicks’ trays either at the hatchery or at farm level. The oocysts are suspended in a coloured dye (like the light purple used in HIPRACOX® & EVALON®) that has the dual advantage of allowing hatcheries to evaluate visually the success of the procedure and stimulating the chicks to take up the vaccine by preening themselves and pecking each other. In addition, HIPRACOX® & EVALON®, together with the colouring agent, contain an aroma –vanillin- that is able to enhance pecking and preening even under low light conditions. The devices most frequently used for the application of Eimeria vaccines are hatchery spraying cabinets or in-line devices that are able to combine coarse spray droplets -for the correct ingestion of the vaccine- together with uniformity of distribution of the vaccine within the chicks’ box. Hipraspray® is the first device that has been specially developed for the administration of the Eimeria vaccines EVALON® and HIPRACOX®.


Jeffers T.K. (1975). Attenuation of Eimeria tenella through selection for precociousness. J Parasitol. Dec; 61(6):1083-90.

Levine P.P. 1938. Eimeria hagani n.sp. (Protozoa: Eimeriidae) a new coccidium of the chicken. Cornell Veterinarian, 28: 263—266.

Shirley M. W., Jeffers T. K., Long P. L. (1983). Studies to determine the taxonomic status of Eimeria mitis, Tyzzer 1929 and E. mivati, Edgar and Seibold 1964. Parasitology 87(2), 185-198.

Vrba V., Poplstein M., Pakandl M. (2011). The discovery of the two types of small subunit ribosomal RNA gene in Eimeria mitis contests the existence of E. mivati as an independent species. Veterinary Parasitology 183, 47-53.

Raised without antibiotics: How to control coccidiosis in broilers and reach this goal? (Part 2)

Nowadays there is an increasing demand for products that come from animals raised without antibiotics. The concerning thing about antibiotic resistance and the alarming situation with the superbug is that it increases the demand for these distinctive products. Problems such as coccidiosis in broilers and maintaining productive efficiency have to be taken into account.

In broiler production, coccidiosis can be controlled through the use of inonophores. Ionophores are antimicrobials and yet they are used in many countries with antibiotic reduction policies. The reason for this is that there are no public health concerns regarding this type of product. Despite this, it can (and it will) induce resistance in microbials, such as Eimeria, and will have an impact on animal health and production results as consequence.

The most significant use of antibiotics for broiler production is for the prevention of coccidiosis in poultry (ionophore coccidiostats are one type of antibiotic), and for the treatment or prevention of necrotic enteritis.

Coccidiosis control is important for the production of broilers raised without antibiotics, helping to prevent the common secondary clostridial disease, necrotic enteritis. One effective way of controlling coccidiosis without the use of antibiotics is vaccination, which is an advantage because of the lack of resistance so commonly found with the use of coccidiostats.

Nutritional management is imperative for the maintenance of gut health. There are more and more types of feed additives on the market, direct-fed microbials, prebiotics, essential oils, and enzymes are just a few of the products available. The idea of combining different feed additives to get maximum efficacy in improving gut health in order to promote feed efficiency and keep birds healthy is a popular one.

One of the pillars of poultry production is biosecurity; not only is nutrition a key factor, but aspects such as the prevention of the entry of pathogens are also essential in the control of pathologies in poultry production. Prevention, such as vaccination against coccidiosis in poultry and biosecurity, are two of the most important factors in the control of pathologies.

However, nutrition and biosecurity measures are not the only resources that help animal producers to rear animals without the use of coccidiostats and antibiotics. On the other hand, we are now living in a highly technological world where everybody collects data that are susceptible of being transformed into information.

Statistics and mainly data analysis is the science that gives us the answers in situations of uncertainty. Statistics is widely used in different fields: from car factories to animal production, companies take advantage of the usefulness of this tool. Hiprastats® -Hipra’s department of statistics- helps customers in different areas, for instance in assessing the risks affecting the results of coccidiosis vaccination.

As matter of fact, HIPRA®, as the reference in prevention for Animal Health, has dedicated its best efforts to the development of ORIGINS®, a pioneering comprehensive consultancy programme powered by Hiprastats® and designed to create plans for raising livestock animals efficiently and competitively, without antibiotics or coccidiostats.

ORIGINS® is based on the identification of the factors that are key for production without antibiotics and with the use of vaccines against coccidiosis in broilers. This allows the classification of those farms in a company with the highest statistical probability of success in producing animals without the use of antibiotics or coccidiostats. Achieving this objective can also improve the overall results of the company, as it will identify strengths and weaknesses.

To sum up, rearing animals without antibiotics and coccidiostats is within the reach of most companies thanks to the new tools currently available in the field of animal production. Nutrition, biosecurity and data analysis are the most important topics to take into account for the achievement of a more sustainable form of production without abuse of antibiotics or ionophore coccidiostats for the control of coccidiosis in broilers.

Data Management and Big Data: Something to deal with coccidiosis in poultry?

The world is connected and this connection generates millions and millions of data. We currently generate data every time we are online whether it’s by using our smartphones, GPS, social networks, when we buy things, when we go to work or when we communicate with each other, among other things.

It could be said that we leave tracks in the form of digital data due to almost every activity we carry out in our daily lives. It is predicted that by 2020, there will be 50 trillion devices connected to the Internet. So what about the poultry sector? The sector is also connected and it is becoming increasingly so. In industry, and particularly in the poultry farming industry, this digital transformation is also taking place.

For example, there are increasingly more devices being used in farms and hatcheries that have humidity sensors, sensors to regulate food, air quality control sensors, sensors for biosecurity, etc. Many of these devices are connected to the Internet and generate digital data on a daily basis. A clear example of this is with Hipraspray®, the vaccination device for COCCIDIOSIS AND RESPIRATORY DISEASES IN POULTRY which is connected to the Internet and provides 100% traceability through its HIPRAlink® software.

What do we get from this digital data and what value is there in BIG DATA Management? 

Does it make sense to opt for mass data management? Does it make sense to invest in big data and in the management of coccidiosis in poultry, for example? Are we capable of predicting, analysing and searching for epidemiological patterns in our hatcheries? The concept has had a low take-up in the poultry sector and only a few people manage their decision-making based on the analysis of big data. However, there is a growing trend to use such technology and in the future such technology will be applied to all business strategies, and this is especially true in the poultry industry when making correct or incorrect decisions could make a really significant difference to production. The 3 key aspects with big data, which also apply to the poultry industry, are:
1. High volume, real time data storage.

2. Thanks to the big data database, we can merge separate data and improve connectivity between different sources (for example, air quality sensors, production management programs, vaccine traceability, farm management software, etc.).
3. Big data software provides the ability to obtain and analyse data streams at high speed. It provides information in real time and helps decision-making become quick and effective (for example, when correlating air quality with data).

The topic is complex, but the answer is yes, if these 3 values are introduced and we use big data, we will be able to hold data that will provide us with answers during times of uncertainty at our farms precisely if we face a big problem of coccidiosis in poultry.