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Scientists explore footpad dermatitis and gait scores in broiler breeders

30-01 | |
Two of the most common animal-based indicators used to evaluate leg health in broiler chickens are footpad dermatitis (FPD) and gait scores. Photo: Canva
Two of the most common animal-based indicators used to evaluate leg health in broiler chickens are footpad dermatitis (FPD) and gait scores. Photo: Canva

Scientists from Norway have investigated footpad dermatitis and gait scores in broiler breeders, from rearing to end of life.

Two of the most common animal-based indicators used to evaluate leg health in broiler chickens are footpad dermatitis (FPD) and gait scores, with retailers increasingly demanding disclosure among broilers.

But these indicators are less explored in broiler breeders, prompting scientists from the Norwegian Meat and Poultry Research Centre to investigate FPD and gait scores in such stock during their entire life span.

A total of 8 different flocks were monitored (4 Ross, 4 Hubbard) at 5 different time points, covering rearing (5-15 weeks), the production period (25-45 weeks) and at the end of the production period (around 60 weeks). During each visit, 50 hens and 25 roosters were gait scored on a 6-point scale and from another 50 hens and 25 roosters’ footpads (5-point scale) were evaluated (total n=3,000 breeders, 2,000 hens and 1,000 roosters.) Litter quality and air quality were also measured during each visit.

Low prevalence

The results showed that the overall prevalence of FPD in rearing was low and that it increased towards the end of production, with mean FPD score of 2 out of a maximum of 4 in the hens, showing moderate lesion levels, and 1.5 in the roosters. In all houses, the litter was found to be dry and loose. FPD was found not to be related to the litter quality but to air quality, especially the ammonia concentration (P<0.001).

Overall, the gait scores were good, but also increased with age in both hens (P<0.001) and roosters of both hybrids (P<0.001).

*The research has been published in the Journal of Avian Pathology: A walk through the broiler breeder life – how do footpad dermatitis and gait scores develop from rearing to slaughter?

Mcdougal
Tony Mcdougal Freelance Journalist





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