Effect of different litter materials on foot pad dermatitis, hock burn and feather coverage in broiler chickens



An experiment was conducted to evaluate the feather coverage on breast and thighs in meat type chickens, reared on three different types of litter materials, including wood shavings, shredded paper and chopped wheat straw. The experiment lasted for 72 days. A total of 447 one-day-old meat type chickens were randomly allotted to the three litter materials, giving 149 birds per litter. On days 24, 47 and 72 of the experimental period, feathering on the breast and thighs was scored according to a 1–4 scale. In addition, the severity of foot pad dermatitis (FPD) and hock burn (HB) was evaluated at the same days by attributing scores from 1−3. Litter characteristics (moisture content, water absorbing capacity, bulk density, pH) were determined at the end of the experiment. Severity of FPD varied significantly (P < 0.016) among the litter materials with chopped straw showing the highest severity scores and wood shavings showing the lowest. Litter material had no effect (P > 0.016) on the severity of HB and on thigh feathering. Birds reared on chopped wheat straw presented the lowest breast feather coverage. Straw litter had the highest moisture content and pH value. In conclusion, wood shavings proved to be best litter material for meat type chickens rearing among the three tested litter materials.


poultry; broiler chickens; litter; foot pad dermatitis; hock burn; feather coverage

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14720/aas.2015.106.2.5


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