Antimicrobial resistance of Escherichia coli to modern beta-lactam antibiotics due to the production of extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBL) and/or plasmid-mediated AmpC beta-lactamases (AmpC) represents an emerging and increasing resistance problem that dramatically limits therapeutic options in both human and veterinary medicine. The presence of ESBL/AmpC genes in commensal E. coli from food-producing animals like broilers may pose a human health hazard. However, there are no data available concerning the prevalence of ESBL/AmpC-producing E. coli in German broiler flocks using selective methods. In this longitudinal study, samples were taken from seven conventional broiler fattening farms at three different times within one fattening period. Various samples originating from the animals as well as from their direct environment in the barn were investigated for the occurrence of ESBL/AmpC-producing E. coli. Average detection levels of 51, 75, and 76% in animal samples collected during the three samplings in the course of the fattening period demonstrate a colonization of even 1-day-old chicks, as well as a continuous significant (P < 0.001) increase in prevalence thereafter. The detection frequencies in housing environmental samples were relatively high, with an increase over time, and ranged between 54.2 and 100%. A total of 359 E. coli isolates were characterized by PCR and partly via the disc diffusion method. This study shows that prevalence of ESBL/AmpC-producing E. coli increases during the fattening period of the broiler flocks examined. Both colonized day-old chicks and contaminated farm environments could represent significant sources of ESBL/AmpC-producing E. coli in German broiler fattening farms.