Mitigation and management of foot pad dermatitis in Alberta broiler chickens

  • Author / Creator
    Hunter, Jesse MH
  • Foot pad dermatitis was identified as a welfare concern by the Alberta broiler industry. However, there are no published studies benchmarking foot pad dermatitis or methods of foot pad assessment recommended to producers in Alberta. Thus, the objectives of the thesis were to benchmark foot pad dermatitis on Alberta broiler flocks, investigate the correlation between three methods of foot pad assessment and repeatability of the processing line assessment, identify management practices related to foot pad dermatitis on-farm and assess the impact of platforms and peat moss on foot pad quality. Chapter 3 found mean prevalence of foot pad dermatitis for each assessment method was 28.7% (on-farm), 26.2% (processor-line) and 31.8% (processor-sampled) On-farm and processor-sampled scores were highly correlated (r=0.90; P<0.01), while processor-line scores were not repeatable between measurements (P<0.01). The variability in the processor-line influenced correlation scores between processor-line and processor-sampled (r =0.72, P<0.01) and on-farm (r=0.77; P<0.01). Foot pad dermatitis prevalence was greater on straw litter (40.6%) compared to other litter types (6.4%). Platform use increased with age, and had no impact on foot pad quality, carcass or body weight (Chapter 4). Wheat Straw had the highest litter moisture and foot pad scores, while Pine Shavings and Pine/Peat had the lowest litter moisture and foot pad scores (P <0.01). Peat had an acidifying impact on pH in both Wheat/Peat and Pine/Peat pens, and slightly decreased litter moisture for Wheat/Peat pens. Processors are advised to revise line-scoring. Producers are recommended to use pine shavings litter to reduce foot pad dermatitis and Wheat/Peat to moderately improve litter quality. Platform structures were used and should be increased in size to maximize bird benefit. Producers are strongly encouraged to assess each flock for foot pad dermatitis using the 4-point scale, as it was shown to be accurate and feasible for use on-farm. Legislation mandating use of pine shavings on farm is recommended, but emphasis should be placed on ensuring producers are assessing foot pad dermatitis on-farm.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Agricultural, Food, and Nutritional Science
  • Specialization
    • Animal Science
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Bench, Clover (Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Korver, Douglas (Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science)
    • Jeffrey, Scott (Resource Economics & Environmental Sociology)