September 10, 2020
Animal welfare depends on healthy feet: Dr. Eckel
According to Anne Möddel, technical sales manager at Dr. Eckel Animal Nutrition, Germany, footpad dermatitis is still a severe problem in poultry production. The lesions are important indicators of the animals' overall condition: damaged footpads contribute to a worse score in the carcase assessment and cause considerable discomfort with effect on performance for both the animal and the producer.
Healthy animals stand on healthy feet, literally. One of the major indicators of successful poultry farming underlies this apparent truism: the condition of fattening turkeys and chickens' feet provides important information on the production conditions, farm management, feed quality and general well-being of the animals. It is also a good indicator of barn hygiene and gastrointestinal health.
Diseased footpads are very painful for the animals, resulting in less movement as well as secondary infections and inflammatory responses. This results in reduced feed intake and higher feed conversion ratio, consequently, slower growth, all of which harm both the animal and the producer. It also leads to higher rejection rates at the slaughterhouse.
There are many causes of footpad lesions, including genetics, stocking density and gender. The main cause for footpad lesions is wet litter. As several studies show, it is sufficient for the litter to be wet for only eight hours per day for foot pad lesions to develop.
Health, including the stability of the gastrointestinal system, is one of the key determinants for wetness of faeces. Therefore, feeding is a major determining factor in reducing the risk of footpad lesions and improving animal welfare. Correct feeding actively supports the health of the digestive tract, significantly improving litter quality.
This is where phytogenic feed additives come into play, as demonstrated in Anta®Phyt trials: there is significantly less moisture in the litter, resulting in less inflammation and higher weight gain in the fattening animals, and a more favourable feed conversion ratio. Consequently, the use of Anta Phyt pays off twice over: improved animal welfare due to healthier footpads and more efficiency owing to higher performance.