With growing cross-disciplinary collaboration among researchers, it is increasingly important to record detailed methodology to prevent the repetition of preliminary experiments. The purpose of this paper is to explain the development of a coccidiosis challenge model for the investigation of dietary interventions to coccidiosis in broiler chickens. The objectives are to select a dose of mixed species coccidial vaccine and evaluate the suitability (ability to produce a consistent, marked change) of selected response variables important to nutritional studies at different times postinfection (PI). Coccivac-B and Coccivac-B52 (Merck Animal Health) were evaluated as the source of coccidia in three trials. Trials 1 and 2 were randomized complete block designs with four doses (0, 10, 20, or 30 times (×) label dose) of Coccivac-B administered to 12 replicate cages of six birds by repeater pipette (Trial 1) or gavaging needle (Trial 2). Trial 3 used a completely randomized design with 0× or 30× label dose of Coccivac-B52 administered by gavaging needle to six replicate cages of six birds. Birds were gavaged at 15 days of age, and response criteria were evaluated 7 days PI in all trials and again at 10 days PI in Trials 1 and 2. All means are reported in order of increasing coccidia dose with significance accepted at P ≤ 0.05. Broiler performance was not affected by coccidia in Trials 1 or 3 but grew poorer with increasing dose from 0 to 7 days PI in Trial 2 (body weight gain, 465, 421, 388, 365 g; feed to gain, 1.37, 1.47, 1.52, 1.58). As coccidia dose increased, nitrogen corrected apparent metabolizable energy decreased (Trial 1, 3387, 3318, 3267, 3170 kcal kg–1; Trial 2, 3358, 2535, 2422, 2309 kcal kg–1; Trial 3, not measured), while relative weight, length, and content for intestinal sections increased (Trials 1through 3). Gross lesion (duodenum, jejunum/ileum, ceca) and oocyst count scores (jejunum/ileum, ceca) increased with dose; however, gross scoring often suggested infection in unchallenged birds, a finding unsupported by oocyst count scores. At 7 days PI there was no correlation between midgut gross lesion score and midgut oocyst count score (r = 0.06, P = 0.705), but cecal scores were weakly correlated (r = 0.55, P < 0.001). Administering coccidia via repeater pipette (Trial 1) resulted in respiratory distress in some birds, while use of the gavaging needle (Trials 2 and 3) successfully induced intestinal damage in chickens without resulting in coccidia related mortality. Thirty times the label dose at 7 days PI resulted in the greatest number of response variables that produced a consistent, marked change. Therefore, consideration should be given to these conditions when designing future coccidiosis challenge models using vaccines as a source of coccidia.
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Vol. 65 • No. 1