Breeder Feeding Restriction Programme and Incubation Temperatures Affect Progeny Footpad Development

Research at North Carolina State University reveals that broiler breeder feeding programme and incubator temperature profile impact the structure of the footpad.
calendar icon 5 August 2014
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Footpad dermatitis begins early in life and there is evidence of individual susceptibility, according to E.O. Oviedo-Rondón of the Prestage Department of Poultry Science at North Carolina State University and others there and the University of Georgia and Merial Select.

In a paper in the current issue of Poultry Science, they report an experiment to evaluate the carry-over effects of breeder feed restriction programmes and incubation temperatures (TEM) on progeny footpad development at hatch, and at seven and 22 days.

Cobb 500 fast feathering breeders were subjected to two dietary feed restriction programmes during rearing: skip-a-day (SAD) and every-day feeding (EDF). At 60 weeks of age, eggs from each group were collected and incubated according to 2 TEM: standard (S) eggshell temperature (38.1°C) and early-low late-high (LH). This second profile had low (36.9°C) eggshell temperature for the first three days, and standard temperature until the last three days when eggs were subjected to elevated (38.9°C) eggshell temperature.

At hatch, 15 chicks from each treatment combination were sampled to obtain footpads for histological analysis. Seventy-two chicks per treatment were placed in 48 cages (six per cage), and raised to 22 days of age. At 7 and 22 days, one and two chickens, respectively, were sampled for footpads.

The bodyweight and group feed intake were recorded to obtain bodyweight gain and feed conversion ratio at seven and 21 days.

Histological analysis assessed thickness and total area of stratus corneum (SC), epidermis, and dermis, and total papillae height. Data were analysed as randomised complete block design in a 2×2 factorial arrangement of treatments.

There was a negative effect of LH TEM on performance at both ages. An interaction effect on SC area and papillae height was observed at hatch. Additionally, SAD treatment increased thickness and area of footpad dermis.

At seven days of age, the SC parameters of the SAD progeny were increased. Epidermis thickness was affected by treatment interaction. Furthermore, LH TEM decreased epidermis thickness and dermis area. At 22 days, interaction effects were observed in thickness and area of SC and epidermis. Incubation S TEM increased thickness and area of dermis.

The researchers concluded that breeder feed restriction programmes and incubation TEM profiles may have carry-over effects on histomorphological traits of footpads.


Da Costa M.J., E.O. Oviedo-Rondón, M.J. Wineland, J. Wilson and E. Montiel. 2014. Effects of breeder feeding restriction programs and incubation temperatures on progeny footpad development. Poultry Science. 93(8):1900-1909. doi: 10.3382/ps.2014-03897.

Further Reading

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

August 2014

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