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Assessing locomotion deficiency in broiler chicken

DOI: 10.1590/S0103-90162010000200001

Keywords: poultry production, gait scoring, feet force measurement, welfare.

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Abstract:

locomotion deficiencies in broiler production cause poor welfare and lead to change in drinking and feeding behavior with consequent loss in weight gain. this research aimed to assess locomotion deficiencies in broiler chicken by analyzing the vertical peak force on both feet during walk. a chamber was built with an inlet ramp, a horizontal walkway in the middle and an outlet ramp. in the walkway a thin mat with piezoelectric crystal sensors was placed to record the step vertical peak force of the feet while walking on the force platform. the measurement system consisted of a mat with electronic sensors and software that allowed real time recording of the forces and the processing and analysis of data. footage was taken from two digital video cameras and used for gait scoring. forty male broilers were chosen at random, grown under similar rearing conditions and farms, with age varying from 49 to 28 days (ten birds of same age) to be used in the trial. measurement consisted of inducing the bird to walk on the force platform which automatically registered the peak vertical force of the steps. results showed that the gait score increased with the weight and age of the birds. peak force asymmetry was found for each foot, independent of age or gait score. although not identified visually in the broilers, the peak vertical force values differed in both right and left feet leading to slow and uneven walking. walking deficiency was more severe in older birds.

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