The effects of eggshell temperature fluctuations during incubation on welfare status and gait score of broilers

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Abstract

The aim of the current study was to determine the effects of different eggshell temperatures (EST); low (33.3 to 36.7°C), control (37.8 to 38.2°C), and high (38.9 to 40.0°C) during 10 to 18 days of incubation on welfare status including foot pad dermatitis (FPD), hock dermatitis (HD) and feathering status, and gait score in broilers. Score 2, 4, and 5 of FPD were found to be similar among the treatment groups, whereas a score of 3 was found to be higher in the control and high EST groups (27.7% and 29.2%) compred to the low EST group (16.9%). The eggshell temperature fluctuations were significantly affected the incidence of HD, whereas broiler sex did not. All of the broilers in the high EST group had HD with various scores, while a percentage of 21.1% and 6.9% of broilers had the score 1 of HD in the low and control EST groups, respectively. Feathering status showed a difference between body parts including wing, neck, back, and vent and also a general mean score of broilers from low EST treatment had the highest score for feathering. A higher incidence of gait score was observed in broilers from the control EST treatment than low and high EST groups. This can be attributed to a higher live weight of broilers from the control EST group. On the other hand, the incidence of a gait score of 3 and 4 was found for broilers from control and high EST treatment groups. Male and female broilers from the high EST group had the higher gait score. In conclusion, gait score and welfare status of broilers were affected by fluctuations in EST between 10 and 18 days of incubation.

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