20 Jul 2020

Practical guide to the differential diagnosis of lameness



Chasity Pender

Raj Murugesan

Diamond V

Content available in: Español (Spanish) Português (Portuguese (Brazil))

Chickens raised for commercial meat production are selected to reach market weight quickly. However, this rapid growth is very demanding on the bird’s skeletal system, which can result in a deterioration of its motor capacity.

lameness and disturbances in the gait of poultry are serious conditions, not only because of their implications for animal welfare, but also because of the economic losses resulting from increased mortality, reduced feed utilisation, reduced average daily earnings and processing plant penalties.

Nutrition plays an important role in health and skeletal development, so a multitude of nutritional factors can lead to musculoskeletal diseases, which are commonly characterized by lameness.

It is important to identify and understand these risk factors to develop a prevention or mitigation strategy that reduces the incidence of lameness. The purpose of this article is to outline different nutritional factors that can contribute to this issue and to offer approaches that can help alleviate the damage.



Potential cause: Vitamin D3 deficiency, Ca / P imbalance.

Symptoms: Enlargement of the ends of the tibia and femur, with widened epiphyseal plates.

Lesions: Disorganization of the cartilaginous matrix, irregular vascular penetration.


Potential cause: Manganese deficiency.

Symptoms: Thickened and shortened legs, shortened wings.

Lesions: Enlargement and malformation of the tibio-metatarsal joint, twisting and bending of the distal end of the tibia and the proximal end of the tarsometatarsal, displacement of the gastrocnemius tendon of its condyles.


Potential cause: Impaired calcium flow in layers.

Symptoms: soft and gummy bones, birds lying at the bottom of the cage.

Lesions: Vertebral fracture affecting the spinal cord.


Potential cause: Monensin.

Symptoms: legs extended backwards.

Lesions: No specific lesions.




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