The efforts in animal health research worldwide are driven by industry needs but also by welfare concerns. With the aim to optimise productivity, new ways of solving ongoing animal production challenges are constantly introduced. A solution to improve litter quality and reduce footpad lesions in broilers is a good example of these efforts.
Footpad dermatitis is a condition characterised by necrotic lesions on the feet of growing broilers. This condition harms the business as much as the animal. It causes downgrades of saleable chicken paws while raising animal welfare concerns, especially in the US and Europe. As a large export market in Asia is boosting chicken paw prices, the demand for flawless products is increasing.
Recent findings suggest that several interacting factors are involved in footpad lesions. Litter moisture seems to be the most likely kick-start of the problem. In order to address this issue, Trouw Nutrition set up a trial in China, aiming to improve both litter quality and foot pad integrity in broilers.
The study found that combining 2 feed additives was the best strategy to reduce litter moisture and footpad lesions. The in vivo study was performed with 900 Ross 308 broilers at the Animal Research Farm of Sichuan Agricultural University in China.
3 treatments were compared during the 42 days trial period. The control group received a standard diet. The other 2 groups got the same diet supplemented with either a combination of 2 different feed additives* or an antibiotic growth promotor (colistine sulphate). Litter samples were taken on day 21 and day 42 from each group. Litter moisture and footpad integrity in feet were determined based on those samples.
The experiment showed the best results when using the feed additives, thanks to the improved microbial balance in the gut. This was clearly reflected in better results for litter moisture, which impacted on footpad quality. Broilers fed feed additives presented up to 50% less foot pad lesions and 5% less litter moisture on day 21.
*2 Selko additives were tested. Selko-pH was applied via drinking water and Presan-FY was applied via feed. Selko-pH lowers and stabilises the pH of drinking water of animals. It supports digestion in the crop and stomach and maintains a healthy microbial balance in the proximal intestine. Presan-FY boosts the broilers’ gut barrier function and may maintain their microbiota. This integrated approach is a formula designed to raise profit by decreasing wet litter and improving footpad quality. It enhances the broilers’ technical performance and helps to maintain a healthy status of the animals.