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

Contract nr: QLK5-CT-1999-01549
Project type: RS (Research and Technological Development Project)
Starting date: 01-02-2000
Duration: 36 months
Total cost: 2,013,835 EUR
EC Contribution: 691,750 EUR
Scientific Officer: Lucia PENA ALBERDI
Research topic: 5.1.1. Sustainable agriculture/Animal Systems

Consumers increasingly demand meat which is both affordable and obtained from welfare-friendly production systems. Currently there is an unacceptably high level of locomotory dysfunction in growing turkeys, and unprecedented levels of tibial dyschondroplasia. It has been suggested that such problems result from selection for production traits and it is known that locomotory problems can be influenced by husbandry practices. The welfare implications of locomotory dysfunction have not been fully appraised. It is essential that the effects of selection and husbandry on gait, musculoskeletal health and behaviour are quantified in order to improve the welfare of modern commercial turkeys. Interpretation of previous work has been impaired by a lack of standardisation in methodology and terminology and a fragmented approach to the subject area. This project will focus a wide range of techniques and expertise on the problem in a standardised way, which will yield increased knowledge of locomotory disorders in turkeys and may ultimately improve turkey welfare.

The project will be conducted as a series of separate studies with the following objectives:
1. To determine the role of genetic selection for production traits on turkey gait and the musculoskeletal system.
2. To relate clinical lameness to gait parameters, specific musculoskeletal disorders and pain.
3. To determine the existence, prevalence, severity and consequences of tibial dyschondroplasia in unselected turkey lines.
4.To correlate gait, tibial and femoral posture and the morphometry of tibial dyschondroplastic lesions in three strains of turkeys.
5. To study the development and repair of dyschondroplastic lesions with age and determine precisely the relationship between the developing dyschondroplastic lesion and bone angulation and torsion.
6. To determine the effects of ambient temperature and age on the development of tibial dyschondroplasia in two commercial strains of male turkeys.
7. To determine the effect of sex on the development of tibial dyschondroplasia in turkeys.
8. To determine the effect of fast or slow growing lines differing in breast width on the development of tibial dyschondroplasia in turkeys.
9. To determine the effects of light regimen and light intensity on the development of tibial dyschrondroplasia in turkeys.
10. To determine the effect of early feed restriction on the development of tibial dyschondroplasia in turkeys.
11. To determine the effects of dietary cation anion balance and 1.25 dihydroxycholecalciferol (1.25-(OH)2 D 3) levels on the incidence of tibial dyschondroplasia in turkeys at 18 weeks of age.
12. To determine the influence of strain, age, ambient temperature and activity on the gait and development of tibial dyschondroplasia in turkeys, with specific reference to basic behavioural traits.

Roslin Institute (Edinburgh)
Roslin, Midlothian
Tel.: +44 1315 274446
Fax: +44 1314 400434

  Clifford NIXEY
British United Turkeys LTD
Tel.: +44 1829 740801
Fax: +44 1829 740877
Swiss Federal Veterinary Office
Tel.: +41 31 915 35 10
Fax: +41 31 915 35 14
Centre for applied Poultry Research
Tel.: +31 555066530
Fax: +31 555064858
  Jutta BERK
Institute for Animal Science and Animal Behaviour
Tel.: +49 5034 871136
Fax: +49 5034 071143