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Examinations on the prevalence of footpad lesions and breast skin lesions in BUT Big 6 fattening turkeys in Germany. Part II: Prevalence of breast skin lesions (breast buttons and breast blisters)

This project involves the prevalence of breast skin alterations (breast buttons, blisters, purulent bursitis) in male and female fattened turkeys (British United Turkeys Big 6) from conventional intensive farming. In this case, 24 turkey farms across Germany and 11,860 turkeys (5,740 toms, 6,120 hens) were clinically examined, and 16,200 birds (8,400 hens, 7,800 toms) were evaluated oh slaughter lines at 7 turkey abattoirs. Each turkey farm included examination of at least 3 consecutive fattening cycles. Especially in the meat examinations, breast skin alterations were a frequent discovery, particularly in the form of breast buttons. The turkey toms exhibited a prevalence of 27.15%, and the toms were affected significantly more frequently (P < 0.001) by these variations than the turkey hens (7.77%). It is possible that the higher BW of the male specimens leads to increased lying times and is therefore connected with more severe strain on the breast region. The increased fattening period of the turkey toms (slaughtering at wk 21 to 22 of life) vs. the female specimens (slaughtering at wk 15 to 17 of life) must be discussed as a cause. Breast blisters and bursitis sternalis were discovered with a prevalence of 7.36 and 1.24% in toms and more seldom in hens, at 0.30% and 0.15%. Large differences in prevalence were partially recognizable between individual farms as well as between the 3 fattening cycles on a farm. Breast buttons and breast blisters are pathological skin variations for which the etiology is multifactorial. Clear correlations between the prevalence of breast skin alterations and the manner of rearing the birds were not able to be determined. An improvement in this situation, which is considered very problematic from the perspective of bird protection and economics, may be achieved only via cooperation to achieve optimized rearing methods, management; and breeding practices



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