Coccidiosis is recognized as the major parasitic disease of poultry and is caused by the apicomplexan protozoan Eimeria. In the past, conventional disease control strategies have depended mainly on anticoccidial drugs and, to a certain extent, live vaccines. Anticoccidial drugs have played a major role in the effective control of avian coccidiosis, but, their extensive use has resulted in the emergence of drug resistant coccidian strains. In such situations, new drugs should be available to replace the older ones against which resistance has developed, however it takes a long time to develop any new compounds. Because of the high cost of developing new drugs and vaccines, development of drug resistance and concerns over drug residues associated with the continuous use of these chemicals, there is a renewed interest in the use of botanicals for safe, effective and cheap control of avian coccidiosis.
Several poultry scientists all over the world are now actively engaged in research into the use of plants and plant derived products to fight and reduce the heavy economic losses in poultry industry caused by coccidiosis. This paper reviews the research on botanicals, herbal complexes and commercially available botanical products having anticoccidial properties against avian coccidiosis. Information regarding active compounds, doses and mechanism of action of plants provided in this paper may serve as a guideline for the use of botanical anticoccidial agents as a part of integrated control strategies for the effective control of resistant coccidian parasites.