Avoid Footpad Lesions to Increase Paw Profits
In today’s market, Grade A chicken paws play an extremely significant role in profitability. If downgraded, however, profitability vanishes. The presence of paw or footpad lesions (pododermatitis) is the number one cause of downgrades of chicken paws. Paw lesions begin to form in the first week of the bird’s life when liquid ammonia at the litter surface begins to erode the bottom of the chick’s feet.
The key to preventing chicken paw lesions is to:
- Ventilate poultry houses for relative humidity (RH) in order to prevent moisture build-up around the drinker/feeder lines and the sidewalls
- Manage drinkers to prevent leaks
- Acidify the litter surface to neutralize ammonia.
PLT and Paw Profitability
Using PLT®-poultry litter treatment to neutralize the ammonia at the litter surface is a good management tool to help prevent the formation of footpad lesions. One demonstration showed dramatic improvement in paw quality on farms that used PLT in the brood chamber. Ten farms (618,204 birds) used the proper rate of PLT for litter age and six farms (463,177 birds) did not treat the litter. The birds raised on PLT showed significant improvement in paw quality with 55% of the birds having quality feet compared with only 16% of the control birds. The PLT group had 19% fewer major paw lesions and 20% fewer minor paw lesions than the control birds. Performance was also much improved for the birds raised on PLT with a three-point improvement in feed conversion (1.77 vs. 1.80) and a point better in weight.
Other independent studies have shown:
- Raising birds at a 45% RH compared to a 75% RH reduced paw lesions threefold. (Weaver and Meuerhof, 1991)
- Broilers raised on litter 3 to 5 inches deep has consistently less incidence and severity of paw lesions that those grown on shallow litter, since litter moisture decreases as depth increases from 1 to 5 inches. (Fairchild, 2010)
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