Foot Pad Dermatitis and Hock Burn in Broiler Chickens and Degree of Inheritance

By J. B. Kjaer, G. Su, and P. Sørensen, Department of Genetics and Biotechnology and B. L. Nielsen, Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences - A total of 2,118 birds from 2 strains were allocated to 12 groups of 93 to 100 each in 2 time-separated replicates.
calendar icon 28 August 2006
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The development of foot pad dermatitis (FPD) and hock burn (HB) were recorded weekly from d 8 to slaughter on a set sample of live animals (7 per group). In addition, feet and hocks of all birds were investigated at slaughter at either 4, 6 (fast-growing strain), 8, or 10 (slow-growing strain) wk of age. Lesions were scored for both the left and right foot and classified according to a scale from 1 (no lesion) to 9 (very severe lesions) for FPD and from 1 (no lesion) to 3 (very severe lesions) for HB.

No FPD lesions and very few low-grade HB lesions were found in chickens from the slow-growing strain. In the fast-growing strain, the first signs of FPD and HB were seen in wk 2. The incidence of both types of lesions increased thereafter. Foot pad dermatitis was more frequent in females (49 vs. 36%, P < 0.05).

Body weight did not affect FPD, but more HB were found at higher BW (P < 0.01). Egg weight influenced neither FPD nor HB. Variance and covariance components were analyzed using a multivariate animal model, in which scores for FPD and HB were transformed into logarithmic scale. The analyses were carried out using restricted maximum likelihood algorithm. Heritabilities were estimated to be 0.31 ± 0.12 (SE) for FPD, 0.08 ± 0.08 for HB, and 0.38 ± 0.13 for BW.

Genetic correlations among these traits were low and nonsignificant. Phenotypic correlation between BW and FPD was low and nonsignificant and between BW and HB was 0.17 ± 0.05 (P < 0.01). The relative high heritability of FPD and the low genetic correlation to BW suggested that genetic selection against susceptibility to FPD should be possible without negative effects on BW gain.

The study is published in Poultry Science, Volume 85, August 2006 edition

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