Wet litter not only induces footpad dermatitis but also reduces overall welfare, technical performance, and carcass yield in broiler chickens

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Abstract

This study investigated whether a high level of footpad dermatitis (FPD) in broiler chickens induced by increased litter moisture content is accompanied by negative effects on technical performance, carcass yield, and other welfare aspects. Litter moisture content was increased by systematically spraying water over the litter from 6 d of age onward (lesion-induction treatment). Results were compared with a control group kept on relatively good quality litter and having a very low prevalence of footpad lesions. Litter quality significantly decreased from 7 d of age onward in the pens with the lesion-induction treatment compared with the control pens. At 21 and 36 d of age, significantly more FPD was observed in the lesion-induction groups compared with the control groups. Technical performance of the broilers was negatively affected for the lesion-induction groups from 28 d of age onward; lesion-induction groups had significantly lower BW gain, feed intake, and water intake and significantly higher FCR compared with control groups. As a result of the lower BW gain, carcass weight was less for the lesion-induction group and significantly more rejections for commercial parts were found. The lesion-induction groups also had significantly more hock burns and breast irritations at d 21 and 36, and were dirtier but had fewer thigh scratches at d 35 compared with the control groups. In addition, locomotion was negatively affected among the lesion-induction group, as they had a higher gait score at d 36 compared with the control group. We concluded that increased litter moisture content not only caused severe FPD but also reduced broiler performance and carcass yield and had a negative effect on other welfare aspects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-58
JournalJournal of Applied Poultry Research
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • pad dermatitis
  • leg weakness
  • prevalence

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