Environmental effects on footpad dermatitis
Shepherd, Eric McGee
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Paws, the portion of the leg below the spur, have become one of the most profitable parts of the broiler chicken. High demand in export markets for Grade A paws has driven companies to maximize paw recoveries. Footpad dermatitis (FPD) lesions are the cause of 99% of downgraded paws. Histological examination revealed parakeratotic hyperkeratosis in the early stages with keratin shearing. Heterophil infiltration soon followed with the development of lesions. Studies were conducted to evaluate the influence of environmental factors, specifically litter depth, type, and systems on the development of FPD lesions. The data suggest that as litter depth increases, litter moisture decreases, and paw quality improves. Improved paw quality was observed when litter depths were ≥ 3 inches. Better paws were found in houses with used litter than in houses completely cleaned out. Cleaned out houses had 35-45% more Grade C paws than windrowed and caked out houses.