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Use of intestinal optimizer pronutrients to stimulate the intestinal immunity against coccidiosis

Use of intestinal optimizer pronutrients to stimulate the intestinal immunity against coccidiosis

Traditional coccidiostats have certain limitations, such as resistance

Coccidiosis is a parasitic disease of importance in the poultry sector affecting farms from all around the world with an important economic impact (1,2). For this reason, anticoccidial programs are systematically used to prevent this disease, which, even when subclinical, impairs performance and acts as a predisposing factor for other diseases.

Since the 50’s, synthetic and ionophore coccidiostats were added to the feed to prevent coccidiosis in broilers (3). They act directly on the parasite to limit their reproductive cycle, so that coccidia can no longer damage the gut mucosa.

This direct action on coccidia has led to a rapid development of resistances (3), therefore, coccidiostats are frequently used in rotation and shuttle programs. Rotation programs changes to a different product or product combination after each flock, while shuttle programs alternate coccidiostats in the different production stages.

limitation of coccidiostats

Besides the development of resistances, some coccidiostats have other disadvantages, such as the presence of residues in the meat and other products and, in the case of nicarbazin, hepatotocitity and decreased resistance of birds to heat stress.

In some regions, such as the European Union or the United States, these drugs were already limited and there is a limited number of products available and less options for rotation and shuttle programs. Many important poultry producers from other countries may find it difficult to internationally export meat, and/or need to make changes to meet the new market trends: part of the consumers would rather eat “green” products, which means that they would rather eat meat from animals raised with less antibiotics or in free-range systems.

Intestinal optimizer pronutrients as a natural effective tool to control coccidiosis

The raising market trend towards the consumption of natural food products, the loss of efficacy of the traditional solutions and the legal limitations call for a novel solution to replace coccidiostats: intestinal optimizer pronutrients.

Pronutrients are active molecules from plant extracts that stimulate cell physiology to optimize the organs and, this way, improve gut welfare, among other functions (6,7). Pronutrients that act as intestinal optimizers stimulate the immune local system of the intestines so that animal cells are ready to eliminate coccidia.

In vitro trials with intestinal optimizers pronutrients and its effect on coccidiosis

This mechanism of action, based on immune stimulation rather than on a direct effect on the parasite, prevents the development of resistances. It was described in molecular and cellular assays where these pronutrients increased interleukin IL-1, IL-12 and IL-18 expression in polymorphonuclear cells isolated from the gut, which are essential elements of anti-coccidia reactions in birds.

When birds receive intestinal optimizers in the feed or the drinking water, their local immune system will be active at physiological levels and capable of eliminating coccidia to prevent the damage they produce.

Ciclo reproductivo de los coccidios

Image 1. Reproductive cycle of coccidia. Red cycle shows the most sensitive stage (sporozoites) to the activity of the immune system.

In vivo trials with intestinal conditioners pronutrients

This effect has been observed in many field trials following the scientific methodology that were conducted in different parts of the world in experimental and commercial poultry farms. They show that intestinal optimizers help animals to defend themselves from coccidiosis.

In a trial in broilers, pronutrients were more effective under different environmental conditions (wet and dry season) for a long period of time than a traditional anticoccidial program (8).

in vivo trials with intestinal optimizers pronutrients

Chart 1. Results of a trial with broilers in Panama where the efficiency index obtained with pronutrients in different seasons was compared with the average of prior cycles that were using traditional coccidiostats.

In another trial, conducted in El Salvador, intestinal optimizers were included in the feed continuously and reduced mortality by 20,93% and improved uniformity by 5 points in week 16 of age, compared to a vaccine against coccidiosis (9).

Pronutrients, natural solution to control coccidiosis

Chart 2. Results of a trial conducted in pullets in El Salvador where intestinal optimizer pronutrients were compared with a vaccine against coccidiosis.

In addition, pronutrients do not require withdrawal period. They act physiologically, do not cause negative effects and are completely safe. They meet the new consumers’ requirements, and their availability is guaranteed in the future, since they are completely natural and already registered in countries with limitations such as the European Union and the United States.

Pronutrients, natural solution to control coccidiosis

Traditional products to prevent coccidiosis have important disadvantages, such as the development of resistances, which lead to the loss of efficacy and their limitation and/or ban in several countries.

Pronutrients are an effective and completely natural tool to boost the animal immune system, so that it can eliminate coccidia. They physiologically stimulate local immune cells in the gut and, since they do not directly affect the parasites, they do not create resistances.

Their efficacy has been broadly proved in in vitro and in the field in different trials that show their long-term efficacy under different conditions in broilers, pullets, layers, and breeders. They were proved more efficient than traditional coccidiostats (+64 points in the efficiency index) and cocci vaccines (-21% mortality and +5 uniformity points).

Intestinal optimizers are pronutrients developed and patented by Biovet, S.A. marketed as Alquernat Zycox, available in premix and liquid presentations to be included in the feed or the drinking water.


  • Coccidiosis aviar: situación en Centroamérica y Ecuador. Mecanismos naturales para su control. [Internet]. Veterinaria Digital. 2021. Available from:
  • Miguel JA, Asenjo B, Ciria J, Del Cacho E, Calvo JL. Comparison of control methods for coccidiosis in native Spanish “Castellana Negra” chickens. Spanish J Agric Res. 2008;6(4):531–6.
  • Cervantes HM. Control de la coccidiosis en la avicultura comercial. In: XIV Seminario Internacional Patología y Producción Aviar. Athens, Georgia; 2018. p. 126–50.
  • Ministerio de agricultura y ganadería R de E. Manual para el registro de empresas y productos de uso veterinario [Internet]. 2018. Available from: REGISTRO-DE-EMPRESAS-Y-PRODUCTOS-DE-USO-VETERINARIO.pdf
  • Anexo G. Instructivo para el registro de aditivos alimentarios. Rep. del Ecuador; 2020.
  • Borrell J. Uso de pronutrientes de origen natural en veterinaria. RACVE (Real Acad Ciencias Vet España). 2005;
  • Borrell J, Domenech C, Martin N, Tesouro A. Pronutrients use in poultry nutrition (S11-0224). In: XXV World’s Poultry Congress [Internet]. Beijing, China; 2016. p. 97. Available from: Proceedings of WPC2016-Abstracts-20160920.pdf
  • Estudio de la eficacia de pronutrientes optimizadores intestinales para controlar la aparición de coccidiosis en broilers [Internet]. 2018. Available from:
  • Pollitas: Adición de pronutrientes en la fase de recría o levante [Internet]. 2020. Available from:



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