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Temporal Changes and Risk Factors for Foot-pad Dermatitis in Danish Broilers

01 March 2013

Improvements in foot pad score were noted by researchers based in Copenhagen in the first few years after an action plan was implemented to reduce pododermatitis in Denmark. Among the risk factors for foot problems were poor litter scores, straw as bedding and low weight gain; stocking density played only a minor role in the scores.

Foot-pad dermatitis is a major welfare concern of broilers caused by ammonia irritation from the bedding material. In a paper published in Poultry Science, Niels Chr. Kyvsgaard of the University of Copenhagen and co-authors from the Poultry Advisory Board of the Danish Agriculture and Food Council explain that Denmark implemented an action plan to control the condition in 2002 with monitoring through a foot scoring system at slaughter and with pre-defined limits that trigger sanctions.

The objective of this study was to study time trends and to identify predisposing factors on the flock lesion scores.

The analysis was carried out on a database created by merging abattoir lesion data with ante-mortem evaluation data, and the flock productivity database managed by the farmers' association. The database had a record for each flock and variables containing information on both flock foot-pad scores and a range of management factors.

The researchers noted a dramatic decline in flock lesion scores between the years 2002 and 2005 followed by a minimal decline hereafter.

Mean flock lesion scores differed between abattoirs, and subsequent analysis was performed in a mixed effect model where abattoir was considered a random effect.

The analysis showed that flock lesion scores increased when the litter quality was evaluated as poor during the on-site ante-mortem evaluation. Other significant risk factors were winter season as opposed to summer, low daily weight gain, straw as bedding material in contrast to wood shavings and sphagnum peat, and high age at slaughter, according to Kyvsgaard and co-authors. They added that stocking density was only weakly associated with flock lesion scores.


Kyvsgaard N.C., H.B. Jensen, T. Ambrosen and N. Toft. 2013. Temporal changes and risk factors for foot-pad dermatitis in Danish broilers. Poult. Sci. 92(1):26-32. doi: 10.3382/ps.2012-02433

Further Reading

You can view the full report (fee payable) by clicking here.

Find out more information on foot pad dermatitis by clicking here.

March 2013

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