Litter quality plays a key role in the development of food pad dermatitis (FPD), an important welfare parameter. In addition to welfare implications, the presence of FPD can also have a direct economic impact as it may result in food pads that are unsuitable for export.
Recently, in a large European broiler field trial (203,200 Ross 708 broilers in total), the impact of Monimax® on coccidiosis lesion scores, performance and FPD was evaluated in comparison to a nicarbazin/narasin combination product. One farm with 16 identical houses was selected for the trial.
Half of the birds received Monimax® in the feed, while the other half received the nicarbazin/narasin combination product (Table 1).
Lesion scoring (Johnson and Reid, 1970) was performed at 21, 25 and 28 days of age to evaluate the coccidiosis lesions.
The total mean lesion score (TMLS) is the sum of the mean lesion score (MLS; average score) of E. acervulina, E. maxima and E. tenella for the examined birds. The results (Figure 1) showed that scores for the birds that received Monimax® were lower compared to the birds that received the nicarbazin/narasin product for all the different ages (21, 25 and 28 days of age) evaluated. These results suggest better coccidiosis control which is reflected in the performance data.
Daily weight gain (DWG), feed conversion ratio (FCR) and EPEF (European production efficiency factor) were determined for each program (Table 2).
Daily weight gain was corrected to 38 days and FCR was corrected to 2,500 g to avoid possible differences linked to different end weights. Monimax® outperformed nicarbazin/narasin in both parameters. The calculated EPEF for Monimax® was over 400 and was 21 points higher compared to the nicarbazin/narasin product.
Food pad lesions were scored at thinning (32 days) and at final slaughter (41 days) in all the birds from the same farm which started up at the same time. A camera system was used to score every footpad on the slaughter line, applying a score of A, B or C where A was the best and C was the worst score (Figure 2).
At thinning, the group that received Monimax® had 5% more foot pads with a perfect score (A). At slaughter age, this number increased to 33% more A scores compared to the nicarbazin/narasin combination product (Table 3).
The results of the field trial clearly demonstrated that the efficacy of an anticoccidial product goes further than the lesion scores alone. In this trial, effective coccidiosis control was reflected in better performance results as well as a positive effect on FPD.
Although litter quality itself was not evaluated in this trial, it is generally known and accepted that litter moisture is the most important parameter in the development of FPD. The positive effect on FPD in this trial is probably the result of the control of coccidiosis and secondary bacterial enteritis. The slightly decreased water intake that is seen when using monensin, resulting in drier droppings and leading to drier litter, was most likely also a contributor. Better litter management saves costs and will improve food pad lesions and animal welfare on the farm.
Monimax® improves welfare levels of birds due to a positive effect on litter quality resulting in better foot pad scores. The positive effect on the litter is the result of improved coccidiosis control and the positive effect on litter moisture when using monensin.
Berg, C. (1998). 'Foot-pad dermatitis in broilers and turkeys'. PhD thesis, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala.
Johnson, J. and Reid, W.M. (1970). Anticoccidial drugs: lesion scoring techniques in battery and floor-pen experiments with chickens. Experimental Parasitology. 28(1). 30-36.