In pursuit of a better broiler: walking ability and incidence of contact dermatitis in conventional and slower growing strains of broiler chickens

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Date

2022

Authors

Santos, Midian N.
Widowski, Tina M.
Kiarie, Elijah G.
Guerin, Michele T.
Edwards, A. Michelle
Torrey, Stephanie

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Elsevier

Abstract

In this study, the mobility, incidence, and severity of contact dermatitis and litter moisture content were assessed in 14 strains of broiler chickens differing in growth rate. The strains encompassed 2 conventional(CONV; ADG0-48 > 60 g/d) and 12 slower growing (SG) strains categorized as FAST (ADG0-62 = 53-55 g/d), MOD (ADG0-62 = 50-51 g/d), and SLOW (ADG0-62 < 50 g/d), with 4 strains in each category. A total of 7,216 mixed-sex birds were equally allocated into 164 pens (44 birds/pen; 30 kg/m2) in a randomized incomplete block design, with each strain represented in 8 to 12 pens over 2−3 trials. From each pen, 4 to 6 birds were tested in the latency-to-lie (LTL) and group obstacle tests 1 wk prior to the birds reaching 2 target weights (TWs) of approximately 2.1 kg (TW1: 34 d for CONV and 48 d for SG strains) and 3.2 kg (TW2: 48 d for CONV and 62 d for SG strains). The incidence of footpad dermatitis (FPD) and hock burns (HB) were evaluated a day prior to each TW. Litter moisture content was determined biweekly from d 14 to d 56. At TW1, CONV and SLOW had longer LTL than FAST birds. At TW2, CONV, MOD, and FAST birds had similar LTL. At both TWs, CONV birds were lighter than FAST birds in the group obstacle test, yet their number of obstacle crossings was similar. At TW1, CONV birds had greater incidence of FPD than FAST and MOD, while at TW2, CONV birds had greater incidence than the other categories. The incidence of HB in CONV and MOD was greater than SLOW birds at TW1, while at TW2, the incidence of HB was greater in CONV and FAST birds vs. MOD and SLOW birds. Litter moisture content was high in all categories from d 28 onward. Our results indicate that both BW and growth rate influence leg strength and walking ability, whereas the overall high litter moisture content and to a lesser extent growth rate influenced the incidence of contact dermatitis.

Description

Better Broiler Project.

Keywords

Lameness, Leg Health, Growth Rate, Genotype, Slower-Growth

Citation

Santos, M. N., Widowski, T. M., Kiarie, E. G., Guerin, M. T., Edwards, A. M., & Torrey, S. (2022). In pursuit of a better broiler: walking ability and incidence of contact dermatitis in conventional and slower growing strains of broiler chickens. Poultry science, 101(4), 101768. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psj.2022.101768

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