Links Between Locomotion, Litter Conditions and Bodyweight and Footpad Dermatitis in Turkeys

Footpad dermatitis and gait score were found to be related to bodyweight at market age by researchers at North Carolina State University following a survey of more than 40 commercial turkey flocks. They also found that litter condition was a major factor in the development of the condition and in the birds' ability to walk.
calendar icon 26 August 2014
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Footpad dermatitis (FPD) and walking ability are both parameters used on poultry welfare audits, according to Edgar Oviedo and colleagues at North Carolina State University's Prestage Department of Poultry Science in the current issue of Journal of Applied Poultry Research.

They conducted a survey to determine the correlation between FPD severity, gait score, bodyweight and litter condition on turkeys at market age. A total of 41 commercial tom flocks of 16 to 19 weeks of age were evaluated.

On each visit, 50 toms were selected, weighed and evaluated for GS and FPD. Litter score was also recorded according to moisture content and caking.

Data analyses consisted of pair-wise correlations and three separate multiple linear regression models using FPD, gait score and bodyweight as response variables. Fixed effects included litter score, season, FPD, gait score and bodyweight. Based on pairwise correlations,

FPD was correlated with litter score, bodyweight, gait score and age.

Gait score was correlated with litter score, bodyweight and age.

Bodyweight was correlated with litter score.

With multiple linear regression analysis, it was observed that litter score and bodyweight were the parameters that were associated the most with FPD severity and gait score. As litter condition worsened and bodyweight increased, FPD and gait score worsened.

Moreover, a seasonal effect was observed on both FPD and gait score. Colder seasons - winter and autumn - were associated with increased FPD severity and gait score.

A negative effect of FPD and gait score was observed on bodyweight.

The Raleigh-based scientists concluded that FPD and gait score are correlated with bodyweight at market age and litter condition is a major factor in FPD development and walking ability in turkeys.


Da Costa M.J., J.L. Grimes, E.O. Oviedo-Rondón, I. Barasch, C. Evans, M. Dalmagro and J. Nixon. 2014. Footpad dermatitis severity on turkey flocks and correlations with locomotion, litter conditions, and body weight at market age. J. Appl. Poult. Res. 23: 268-279. doi: 10.3382/japr.2013-00848

Further Reading

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August 2014

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