Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Walk this Way
Being ever conscious of exciting new poultry welfare practices, I was immediately drawn to an article I found addressing the unfortunate leg problems afflicting commercially produced broilers. With broilers growing heavier and faster than ever before, it’s becoming increasingly common to find birds in a grow out facility affected by locomotion problems. Their legs just can’t handle the rapid bulk accumulation. So what’s a grower to do? According to the article Testing Gait Scoring System from ThePoultrySite.com (http://www.thepoultrysite.com/articles/1009/testing-gait-scoring-systems), producers are beginning to test a new scoring system to asses the number of birds with leg issues. This new scoring system will hopefully make some changes in the welfare management procedures of bird growers by setting certain production benchmarks and hopefully up the birds’ overall health and comfort. Looking beyond the general welfare of the animal, it is bad business to have birds that can’t even walk to the feeders due to their immobility. The Gait Scoring System is used to test a large number of birds’ ability to walk without any sort of invasive procedure. The scoring system is broken down into three categories with scores from 0-2, 2 being the most severe cases of immobility. The bonus of this new system is that is a lot easier to facilitate than the older system of bird gait scoring. This makes it more desirable to actually implement into a production facility’s management practices. As a consumer interested in the welfare of the animals that we eat, it is reassuring to know that the problem of immobile birds is being addressed. Hopefully, with all of this new information regarding prevalent leg issues, we are at least headed in the right direction for managerial advancements to prevent them.