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Post-mortem examination of fast-growing broilers with different degrees of identifiable gait defects

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Background
The walking ability of many broilers is characterised by slight or definite defects categorised as gait scores (GS) 1 and 2. The present study aimed to examine potential relationships between GSs and indicators of body morphology, leg pathology, tibia strength and wooden breast in Ross 308 broilers assessed as GS ≤ 2.

Methods
At 38 days of age, GS and live body weight of 179 birds was recorded. Each bird was examined post-mortem for signs of wooden breast, contact dermatitis and a range of leg pathologies. Weights of different body parts and tibia strength were quantified.

Results
Within sex, GS increased with increasing live body weight (p = 0.020). There was a tendency for an effect of GS on prevalence of footpad dermatitis (p = 0.086) and dislocated femoral joint cartilage (p = 0.059) where both pathologies increased in frequency with increasing GS. Greater load was required to fracture tibia from GS2 than GS0 birds (p = 0.040).

Conclusions
Within this relatively small data set, no strong relationships between GS ≤ 2 and indicators of body morphology, leg pathology, tibia strength and wooden breast in Ross 308 broilers were found, except for the live terminal body weight. Further studies, involving larger data sets are required for full clarification.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere454
JournalVeterinary Record
Volume189
Issue7
Number of pages8
ISSN0042-4900
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

    Research areas

  • body composition, broiler, gait score, leg pathology, walking impairment

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