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Animals 2013, 3(3), 608-628; doi:10.3390/ani3030608
Article

Impact of Selected Factors on the Occurrence of Contact Dermatitis in Turkeys on Commercial Farms in Germany

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1 Clinic for Birds and Reptiles, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Leipzig, An den Tierkliniken 17, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany 2 Department of Veterinary Sciences, Chair of Animal Welfare, Ethology, Animal Hygiene and Animal Husbandry, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Veterinärstr. 13/R, D-80539 Munich, Germany 3 Institute of Food Hygiene, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Leipzig, An den Tierkliniken 1, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 April 2013 / Revised: 27 June 2013 / Accepted: 3 July 2013 / Published: 9 July 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Farm Animal Welfare)
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Simple Summary: In two extensive field studies in Germany, the influence of husbandry on health and fitness of fattening turkeys was investigated in living animals of various ages as well as carcasses shortly after slaughter. Already in the early rearing phase, contact dermatitis of foot pads was observed as a relevant problem in turkey farming. Litter quality and condition as well as management must be coordinated at all rearing stages of turkeys to prevent the appearance of high litter moisture values in order to minimize the prevalence of foot pad dermatitis.

Abstract

In a long term research project in Germany the influence of husbandry on the health of fattening turkeys (Study 1) as well as the influence of practiced rearing conditions on the health of turkey poults (Study 2) was examined in 24 farms and at the meat processing plant. In all examined rearing farms, litter samples for the determination of litter moisture were taken. This paper summarizes the results obtained by our working group from 2007 until 2012. The results elucidate the universal problem of foot pad dermatitis (FPD). Nearly 100% of the observed turkeys showed a clinically apparent FPD at the meat processing plant. Furthermore, skin lesions of the breast, especially breast buttons were diagnosed, particularly at the slaughterhouse. FPD was detected in the first week of the rearing phase. Prevalence and degree showed a progressive development up to the age of 22–35 days, whereas 63.3% of the poults had foot pad alterations. As even mild alterations in the foot pad condition can be indicators for suboptimal design of the rearing environment, especially high litter moisture, it is important to focus on the early rearing phase.
Keywords: fattening turkey; Meleagris gallopavo; foot pad dermatitis; litter moisture; animal welfare fattening turkey; Meleagris gallopavo; foot pad dermatitis; litter moisture; animal welfare
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Krautwald-Junghanns, M.-E.; Bergmann, S.; Erhard, M.H.; Fehlhaber, K.; Hübel, J.; Ludewig, M.; Mitterer-Istyagin, H.; Ziegler, N.; Bartels, T. Impact of Selected Factors on the Occurrence of Contact Dermatitis in Turkeys on Commercial Farms in Germany. Animals 2013, 3, 608-628.

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