Effect of production systems on foot pad dermatitis (FPD) levels among slow-, medium- and fast-growing broilers
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Foot pad dermatitis (FPD) represents a widespread problem and constitutes a welfare issue in broiler production. This study examined the effects of genotype, (fast-, medium- and slow-growing broilers), production system (indoor and outdoor access) and sex on the incidence of FPD. A total of 2,240 1-day-old mixed male and female chicks were reared to 12 weeks of age in an 8x2 factorial design. For each of 8 genotypes, chicks were randomly allocated to 1 of 2 production systems with 2 replicates, each comprised of 70 birds per pen. A four-stage feeding program was implemented consisting of broiler starter, layer chick starter, layer chicken grower and layer chicken developer feed, with all feed and water were offered ad libitum. A continuous lighting regimen (23 hours/day) was used for the first 2 weeks, and a daily lighting regimen (14 hours/day) was used for the remainder of the study. At 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 weeks of age, 6 males and 6 females per genotype were slaughtered, and FPD scores were calculated for left feet. Mean FPD scores were found to vary significantly by genotype (0.44 and 2.35; P < 0.05), with higher FPD scores found in fast-growing chickens. A significant correlation was also found between live weight and FPD scores (0.480; P < 0.05). Additionally, FPD scores varied between genotypes with similar live weights. FPD scores increased with age (0.54 and 1.69; P < 0.05), with the increases particularly critical for fast-growing chickens. Males had higher FPD scores than females (0.67 and 1.71; P < 0.05), and chickens with outdoor access had higher FPD scores than those without outside access (1.33 and 1.06; P < 0.05).