Lameness and its relationship with health and production measures in broiler chickens

E.G. Granquist*, G. Vasdal, I.C. De Jong, R.O. Moe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The aim of this study was to explore lameness and the associations between lameness and health/production measures of animal welfare in commercial broiler production, using the Welfare Quality ® protocol for broilers. A total of 50 flocks were included in the sample and farm visits were conducted for lameness scoring at a mean age of 28.9 days. The percentage of animals (n=7500) in the six different gait score (GS) categories were GS0: 2.53%, GS1: 44.19%, GS2: 33.84%, GS3: 16.32%, GS4: 2.36% and GS5: 0.53%. Production and other welfare data were collected for each flock after slaughter. Higher gait scores were associated with increased hock burn score (P<0.02), increased footpad dermatitis score (P<0.01), reduced bird cleanliness score (P<0.01) and peat litter (P<0.01). Although not statistically significant, there was a tendency for increased flock gait score being associated with wet litter (P=0.07). In addition, condemnations at postmortem inspection were associated with increasing gait scores (P<0.05), indicating that at least a portion of the lameness cases display pathological changes on the carcasses. In conclusion, 19%of the birds showed moderate-to-severe lameness, which was associated with several production or health and welfare observations including feather cleanliness and condemnations as unfit for human consumption at slaughter. Although stocking density and growth rate are already known key factors for lameness, associations of lameness with hock burns, footpad dermatitis and cleanliness of the birds suggest that a suboptimal physical environment (e.g. litter- and air quality) may be detrimental to leg health. Further studies are needed to explore these associations in more detail.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2365-2372
JournalAnimal
Volume13
Issue number10
Early online date21 Mar 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

Keywords

  • condemnation
  • dermatitis
  • gait
  • poultry
  • welfare

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