Anticoccidial effects of plant extracts – Mechanisms of action


Coccidiosis is one of the most wide-spread and economically important diseases in the poultry industry.

Anticoccidial chemicals have long been used to prevent and control avian coccidiosis, but resistance to current anticoccidials and cross resistance to newly developed substances, together with increasingly stringent regulations, have encouraged the development of alternative control strategies.

Coccidiosis is caused by several species of Eimeria, a protozoan with a very complex life cycle. The cycle consists of three stages:

  • Unsporulated oocysts present in the feces sporulate in conditions of high moisture and temperature above 25ºC.
  • Sporulating oocysts are ingested by birds and release sporocysts, which mature into sporozoites. Sporozoites then penetrate the intestinal epithelial cells, where they go through two phases (trophozoite and schizont).
  • The schizont expels merozoites, which leave the epithelial cell, go through a cycle of sexual reproduction, and give rise to unsporulated oocysts, that are excreted to the environment through the feces.


Many plant extracts and phytochemicals have anticoccidial activity, with different mechanisms of action:

  • Direct destruction of oocysts.
  • Inhibition of sporulation.
  • Direct destruction of the sporozoites. Some plant extracts temporarily induce oxidative stress, which has antiprotozoal effect.
  • Stimulation of the innate and adaptive immune response, which increases the chances that the animal can fight the infection on its own. The action of the immune system can stop the development of schizonts and kill sporozoites and oocysts.
  • Plant extracts with prebiotic effect work by competitive exclusion and by enhancing the digestive immune system.
  • Positive action on the digestive tissues: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and r reinforcement of the gut barrier.

Our line of products designed to replace antibiotic growth promoters shows moderate anticoccidial effects.

By combining plant extracts with different mechanisms of action in the same product, we can also design specific products that show a more targeted anticoccidial action.

Products of choice

GrowthPlus© is added to feed to maintain and improve digestive health. It is formulated with synergistic ingredients:

  • Bactericidal and fungicidal plant extracts, combined with organic acids for better effectiveness, that reduce the number of pathogenic microbes in the digestive...

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