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TURKEY GAIT DISORDERS
The roles of selection and husbandry in the development of locomotory dysfunction in turkeys

Consumers increasingly demand meat that is both affordable and obtained from welfare-friendly production systems. There is an unacceptable level of locomotory dysfunction in growing turkeys showing high levels of tibial dyschondroplasin. It has been suggested that turkey locomotory problems are a result of the selection for production traits but it is also known that these problems can be influenced by husbandry practices. The welfare implications of locomotory dysfunction have not yet been fully appraised.

Objectives
This project has four main objectives:
1) to define normal gait, skeletal and related behavioural parameters in growing turkeys with unprecedented levels of tibial dyschondroplasin.

Results
Tibial Dyschondroplasia (TD) has an exceptionally high incidence across turkey strains differing greatly in growth rate and conformation, and therefore appeared not be influenced by selection for production traits.
Although TD incidence was high for both males and females, the incidence among males was considerably greater.
TD was not affected by light regime or intensity, early qualitative feed restriction, dietary supplementation, environmental temperature, environmental enrichment or stocking density.
TD had no significant effects on either skeletal morphometry or gait, and was therefore considered to have no primary welfare consequences.
Although TD appears to be associated with the development of osteomyelitic lesions in a small proportion of TD-affected birds, there appears not to be any major welfare problem associated with this secondary pathology because gait and behaviour were unaffected.
Selection for increased growth rate and altered conformation in turkeys had significant effects on both skeletal morphometry and gait.
There was no clear evidence that the altered gait and skeletal morphometry caused by selection had negative consequences for turkey welfare.
Growing turkeys provided with environmental enrichment such as elevated platforms, straw bales and outside areas use them without any negative impact on performance parameters.

Classified in ANIMALS

Scientist responsible for the project

Dr SANDRA Wilson
Roslin Institute
EH25 9PS Roslin
United Kingdom (The) - GB

Phone: +44 131 527 14446
Fax: +44 131 440 0434
E-mail: sandra.wilson@bbsrc.ac.uk

References

Project ID QLRT-1999-01549
Organisation Roslin Institute
Area 5.1.1
Start date 01 March 2000
Duration (months) 36
Total cost 1 660 565 €
Total EC contribution   691 750 €
Status Completed

The partners

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