27 May 2020

Practical reminder: How to reduce locomotor problems

Content available in: Español (Spanish)

Sometimes it is not taken into account that if we have a low prevalence of locomotor issue and we want to improve it by 2%, it turns out that measures will be taken on 100% of the birds in the flock. As everyone knows that with rapid growth, more locomotor problems can occur, it is logical to think that this should be stopped. But if we stop this growth, the overall results may be worse and may not compensate for the decrease in locomotor problems.


The easiest thing to think about is that it will be the birds’ genetics that will be responsible for the greatest occurrence of locomotor disorders. Before thinking about this possibility, we must review a series of other causes that we can improve.


As a first action when there are problems with lameness, one should start by checking the management of the breeders. For example, there is work that reminds us that the offspring of the fastest growing genetic lines have fewer locomotor problems when the breeders are fed with greater restrictions between 14 and 20 weeks of age.


Management in the hatchery should also be checked, as environmental disturbances occur more often than necessary as a result of problems in maintaining the correct temperature in incubators. These thermal variations affect the embryos, which consequently affect their bone development.

It should also not be forgotten that an increase in the temperature of the embryos in the last phase of their development will lead to a reduction in the absorption of nutrients, with the visible sign of chicks with larger-than-normal yolk sacs.


High temperatures in the last part of the incubation will increase the asymmetry of the leg bones, or an incubation with a somewhat low temperature will increase the appearance of osteochondrosis in the cartilage and Enterococcus infections may increase.


Inadequate transport of chicks from the hatchery to the farm can trigger stressful situations that will increase locomotor problems in birds. Therefore the control of this phase must also be exhaustive.


A factor that influences the increase in lameness is the too severe and prolonged restriction of the space for chicks to start at the beginning of their life.

Lack of exercise next to a litter in poor condition increases the problem of pododermatitis. inducing further locomotor disorders.

The reduction in space makes birds get used to using a few square meters of living area, which means they get used to moving around a little, spending a lot of time sitting and logically doing little exercise.


Adding vitamin D3 precursors to starter feeds can go a long way in preventing some locomotor problems.


A last factor that also influences the appearance of movement problems is the lighting of the buildings, which must take into account not only the number of hours of light, but also its intensity and the type of light used. Only the day-to-day experience tells us that the intensity of the light should be high the first few days to favor the start-up and that said intensity should decrease little by little as the chickens grow. Often times setting a flashing light program will help reduce lameness in successive batches.






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