Nutritional Effects on Foot Pad Condition Studied

Litter moisture had a substantial effect on the development of paw burns but neither feed enzymes nor additional dietary biotin improved foot pad condition in broiler chickens, reports Drs Joseph B. Hess and S.F. Bilgili of the Poultry Science Department at Auburn University.
calendar icon 5 March 2011
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Research was conducted to determine if feed grade enzymes and dietary biotin reduce foot pad problems in broilers, according to Drs Hess and Bilgili. The enzyme trials were undertaken to determine if feed-grade enzymes improve foot pad quality by reducing undigested complex carbohydrates passed into the litter. Six enzymes were fed in a three-feed program in two separate trials. Improvements in intestinal viscosity were observed with feeding of most enzymes. However, there were no measureable improvements in foot pad quality score in either trial.

Biotin has been reported to improve foot pad quality in turkeys and the commercial price of biotin has recently decreased to the point that enhanced supplementation may be economically viable. Two broiler trials involving four levels of biotin were fed during grow out to determine if higher than normal levels would help protect broiler footpads from paw burns. There were no observed improvements in foot pad lesions following the feeding of higher than normal levels of biotin.

Litter moisture was found to have a substantial effect on the development of footpad burns. Although, addition of moisture either early or late increased paw burns, broilers appeared to have the ability to reduce paw problems from early moisture exposure.

In general, feed grade enzymes and additional dietary biotin did not improve footpad quality measurably under conditions that enhance footpad lesion development (high protein feeds), concluded Drs Hess and Bilgili. Litter moisture did have a marked effect on paw lesion development, indicating that in-house environmental management can go a long way toward managing paw problems in the field.

This research was sponsored by the US Poultry & Egg Association.

February 2011

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