To determine whether northern bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) could be immunized against Eimeria lettyae by a low-dose inoculation of oocysts, we inoculated 30 birds each with either 100 or 1000 oocysts at 2 days of age (given orally by pipette). Four weeks after immunization, the immunized birds and unimmunized controls were challenged with 1 × 106 E. lettyae oocysts. Eight days after challenge, birds were killed and weighed, and their intestines examined for gross lesions. Effectiveness of the immunization was measured by analyzing weight gain, intestinal lesions, severity of diarrhea, feed conversion ratio, and oocyst production. After challenge, birds immunized with 100 or 1000 oocysts gained an average of 33.3 g and 28.9 g, respectively, whereas unimmunized challenged birds gained an average of 11.5 g. Immunized quail produced approximately 99.7% fewer oocysts, had minimal gross intestinal and cecal lesions, had minimal diarrhea, and had a 50% lower feed conversion ratio compared to unimmunized challenged controls. These findings indicate that vaccination is a viable option for controlling coccidiosis in quail and that further research into vaccination is warranted.
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Vol. 54 • No. 4