The study, funded by DEFRA and published in PLoS ONE on February 6, identifies a range of management factors that could be altered to reduce leg health problems but warns that implementation of these changes would be likely to reduce growth rate and production.
A debate on the sustainability of current practice in the production of broiler chickens is urgently required, the researchers conclude.
Dr Toby Knowles of Bristol University’s Division of Food Animal Science and colleagues assessed the walking ability of 51,000 chickens within 176 flocks. They also obtained information on approximately 150 different management factors associated with each flock.
The study found that at an average age of 40 days, over 27.6 per cent of birds showed poor locomotion and 3.3 per cent were almost unable to walk. The high prevalence of poor locomotion occurred despite culling policies designed to remove severely lame birds from flocks.
Dr Knowles said: “Broiler chickens have been subjected to intense genetic selection. In the past 50 years, broiler growth rates have increased by over 300 per cent from 25 g per day to 100 g per day.“Our research shows that the primary risk factors associated with impaired locomotion and poor leg health are those specifically associated with rate of growth.”
Other factors include the age of the bird, bird genotype, not feeding whole wheat, a shorter dark period during the day, higher stocking density, no use of antibiotic and the use of intact feed pellets.
Dr Knowles said: “The welfare implications of this study are profound. Worldwide approximately 20 billion broilers are reared within similar husbandry systems that are biased towards economics of production and detrimental to poultry welfare. “However, within the current framework there is variation in the magnitude of the problem between different flocks, and so some scope to improve walking ability through alterations in husbandry practice.
“Work needs to be carried out on the predictability of these risks, and the economics of improved welfare practices, for them to gain industry acceptance.
“Research shows that consumers currently know little about how broiler chickens are reared but can be shocked when presented with information about current commercial practices. Since the sustainability of intensive broiler production depends on continued consumer acceptance of the farming practices involved, the broiler industry will need to work with the scientific community to develop more robust and healthier genotypes and to ensure that optimal husbandry and management practices are fully implemented.”
Citation: Knowles TG, Kestin SC, Haslam SM, Brown SN, Green LE, et al (2008) Leg Disorders in Broiler Chickens: Prevalence, Risk Factors and Prevention. PLoS ONE 3(2): e1545. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001545
Andrew Hyde | alfa
Do microplastics harbour additional risks by colonization with harmful bacteria?
05.04.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde
Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University
At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.
Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...
Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.
Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
24.04.2018 | Information Technology
24.04.2018 | Earth Sciences
24.04.2018 | Life Sciences