Keeping poultry feet clean, dry and healthy helps improve overall health and well-being of the flock. Footpad dermatitis (FPD) is a condition that causes necrotic lesions on the plantar surface of the footpads in growing broilers and turkeys. Recent research suggests there are a myriad of interacting factors that lead to FPD.
Active management of three critical factors can greatly help improve conditions and avoid FPD development.
1. Keep the Litter Dry
High litter moisture contributes to FPD development. Litter moisture at levels above 30 percent are highly detrimental to feet health especially in very young birds.
The job of bedding is to absorb moisture and then to allow evaporation to occur.
2. Bedding Material and Depth
The role of bedding material is to absorb and then allow for evaporation of moisture.
Litter must be present in adequate quantities and balanced with the type of material used for the bedding, it’s particle size, moisture content, caking rate, etc. Recent research proves a direct correlation between adequate bedding depth and improved foot health (and less FPD). These factors contribute to overall bird health and performance. (Shepard et al 2017).
The ration the birds eat affects the quality and consistency of the litter they walk upon. These factors can also influence development of FPD.
Research has also shown a possible genetic link in the susceptibility to development of FPD lesions. Producers continue to work to optimize these factors to understand the condition and the strategies that can be used to prevent it.
If it has hooves, feathers, or paws, there’s a good chance Kathleen Lonergan Erickson has been actively engaged in some aspect of raising, handling, or supporting the animals and humans involved! Kathleen has worked directly in animal agriculture through the family farm, as a journalist, through corporate experience, and as an independent marketing communications consultant. Her understanding of the business of agriculture is as deep and strong as is her respect for agricultural producers. She is a graduate of Iowa State University, and recently returned to university to earn her master’s degree in Agricultural Innovation. Supporting the innovative work of Summit Livestock Facilities is a natural fit for her.