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Link between broiler footpad lesions and gait scores explored

Scientists say there is clear correlation between cases of footpad dermatitis and worsening gait scores in broilers following a detailed 3 year study in the US.

The researchers looked at the prevalence and severity of footpad dermatitis (FPD) and gait scores (GS) as an indicator of lameness in commercial broiler production in the US.

Results found that light broilers had significantly better FPD and GS than heavier broilers. Photo: Mark Pasveer
Results found that light broilers had significantly better FPD and GS than heavier broilers. Photo: Mark Pasveer

Relationship between FPD and GS

The objectives of the field study, which included support from Elanco Animal Health, Keystone Foods, the Department of Poultry Science, Auburn University and the American Association of Avian Pathologists, were to deter mine the prevalence and severity of FPD and lameness in commercial broilers.

The study also looked at the relationship between FPD and GS under the production conditions typical of the southeastern US States.

Observations were collected from an integrated broiler complex producing a light broiler (1.94kg to 2.22kg) and an integrated broiler complex, producing a heavier bird (3.62kg-3.76kg).

First signs of disease often show at the feather cover and skin, skeleton issues. Check out this interactive tool.

Data was collected from 554 farms, 16,697 houses and 166,977 broilers, representing 328 million birds over the lifespan of the study.

The summary results found that:

  • Light broilers had significantly better FPD and GS than heavier broilers
  • There was a strong significant association between FPD and GS within a complex
  • There were significantly greater odds of GS worsening as FPD worsened and significantly high odds of FPD becoming more severe as GS worsened.

The study, published in the Journal of Applied Poultry Research could be seized upon by animal welfare groups who are pushing companies such as McDonalds to move to a slower growing broiler bird because of welfare concerns over lameness and other welfare issues in modern intensive breeds.


  • Connie Mou

    what is the name of the article in JAPR?

  • Rick Van Emous

    Opengart et al. 2018. Incidence, severity, and relationship of broiler footpad lesions and gait scores of market-age broilers raised under commercial conditions in the southeastern United States.

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