Impact of lameness on broiler well-being
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Various degrees of lameness were compared among male broilers ranging in age from 28 to 49 d that had been randomly selected from a commercial farm. Gait scores were given to the broilers while they walked on a force measurement platform system, and the force exerted by their feet was measured and compared in 2 distinct conditions: with and without administration of an analgesic. Postmortem femoral degenerative lesions were observed, and the femur strength in response to a compression load was measured and compared. Results showed a difference in the peak vertical forces of the right and left feet before and after medication. The researchers also found that as BW increased, the locomotion ability of broilers tended to decrease. After birds received the analgesic, the peak vertical force increased among the more severely lame broilers at 35 to 49 d of age and their walking speed was decreased, indicating that they might have felt pain during locomotion. No difference was found between the femur (right and left) strength in response to a compression load; however, the results showed that femurs of 28-d-old birds were less resistant to compression (P < 0.05) than those of older broilers. The foot force platform was a useful tool for assessing the walking ability of broilers.