Project: Improving turkey health and welfare by reducing foot pad dermatitis.

It is expected that Foot Pad Dermatitis (FPD) will be one of the main parameters to measure welfare in turkey production in the near future. Foot pad dermatitis is associated with lesions of the skin on the foot pad and the underlying tissue. In severe cases these lesions may result in ulcerations of the foot pad tissue and this adversely affects animal health and welfare. Foot pad dermatitis in turkeys is very common in flocks of growing turkeys and is a potential health and welfare problem in intensive production systems. Turkey producers have clearly stated that this potential problem is seen across all EU member states. In Sweden the prevalence of FPD was estimated to be 20% for severe lesions (ulcers) and 78% for mild lesions (discolouration, erosion). In poor environmental conditions the prevalence of FPD can increase to 100% and therefore FPD is an urgent area for concerted research across the community. It is necessary to gain more scientific knowledge on the development and causative factors of FPD in commercial turkeys and on the relationship between FPD and health and welfare. From literature and experience in practice it is clear that the cause of FPD is multi-factorial (contact between foot pad and litter/ excreta, growing conditions, genetic variation and nutrition). Further research is required to find solutions to reduce the incidence and severity of FPD in turkeys in order to create a sustainable turkey production in Europe. Improving foot pad quality of turkeys will result in higher health and welfare standards. In this project, methods to determine foot pad quality in commercial flocks will be validated, pain and suffering will be assessed in turkeys with different levels of foot pad dermatitis and management/nutrition experiments will be conducted to evaluate the efficiency of management practices on the prevalence and severity of FPD in turkeys.

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Project partner

Number Name Role Country
Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell'Emilia Romagna Italy
University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
Wageningen University & Research Coordinator Netherlands