Evaluation of Nutrition and Management Factors in the Etiology of Pododermatitis in Broiler Chickens
Type of DegreeThesis
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The influence of nutrition and management factors in the etiology of pododermatitis (paw burns) was evaluated in three trials. Broilers of mixed sex were raised on four experimental diets with varying protein levels (high vs. low) and source (all vegetable vs. vegetable plus animal) in Experiment 1. In a subsequent trial, the effect of supplementation of feed-grade enzyme in the diets mentioned above was evaluated. In addition, the efficacy of a litter amendment to improve footpad quality in broiler chickens was evaluated in Experiment 3. In all experiments, footpads were scored on a three point scale scoring system at various ages to assess the incidence and severity of pododermatitis. Litter samples were analyzed for total and ammonia nitrogen in Experiment 1 and 2. Volatile ammonia was measured weekly in Experiment 3. Protein level, protein source and sex had significant effects on pododermatitis (Experiment1). Pododermatitis incidence and severity was increased with high protein v and all vegetable diets. Enzyme supplementation reduced the incidence of pododermatitis in all vegetable diets in Experiment 2. In Experiment 3, sodium bisulfate used as a litter amendment reduced volatile ammonia levels and lowered (P>0.05) the incidence and severity of pododermatitis. The role of nutrition in the etiology of pododermatitis was significant. Sex effects were prominent with male broilers showing footpads with severe lesions in all of the trials conducted. In this study, enzyme supplementation had little effect on litter total and ammonia nitrogen levels and pododermatitis in broilers. It was observed in this study that use of litter amendments to convert volatile ammonia to an inert form may help in a program designed to reduce pododermatitis in broilers. Chicken feet are one of the processing by-products that have become a viable export commodity over the past decade with expanding markets overseas. The production of healthy chicken feet not only improves financial gains but also helps broiler producers comply with the animal welfare guidelines. As demonstrated in this study, a multi-factorial approach, including fine-tuning of feeding programs and management factors may be necessary to reduce the prevalence of pododermatitis in broiler chickens.