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South African Journal of Animal Science

On-line version ISSN 2221-4062
Print version ISSN 0375-1589


MATKOVIC, K. et al. Effect of litter type and perches on footpad dermatitis and hock burn in broilers housed at different stocking densities. S. Afr. j. anim. sci. [online]. 2019, vol.49, n.3, pp.546-554. ISSN 2221-4062.

The aim of the study was to assess the effect of litter type and environmental enrichment on the occurrence of footpad dermatitis and hock burns in broilers housed at low and high stocking densities. Chopped straw and sand were used as litter, and perches as environmental enrichment. Low and high stocking density implied 12 chickens/m2 and 20 chickens/m2, respectively. The study sample was divided into four groups of 50 birds, which were observed during a six-week fattening period. A significantly higher rate of severe footpad dermatitis was recorded in the group of chickens raised on sand at high stocking density, compared with low stocking density, whereas no significant difference was found between the groups of chickens raised on straw at different stocking densities. The rate of footpad dermatitis was also significantly higher in the group of chickens raised on sand at high stocking density, compared with chickens raised on straw at the same stocking density. There were no group differences in the occurrences of hock burns and perching. However, a significant negative correlation was recorded between perching and the occurrence of footpad dermatitis and hock burns. According to the occurrence of footpad dermatitis and hock burns, the study results suggested that chopped straw and sand were equally acceptable as litter for broilers, yet sand should be avoided at high stocking densities. There was no effect of stocking density and litter type on perching, but perches as a form of environmental enrichment proved efficient in reducing the rate of footpad dermatitis and hock burns.

Keywords : chickens; contact dermatitis; environmental enrichment; housing; sand.

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