Poultry science

High dietary levels of biotin and zinc to improve health of foot pads in broilers exposed experimentally to litter with critical moisture content.

PMID 23776264


Foot pad dermatitis (FPD) is a widespread problem in poultry production and constitutes a welfare issue. The objective of this study was to test potentially prophylactic effects of higher biotin and Zn levels in the diet of broilers exposed to critical litter moisture content (35% water) on the development of FPD. Two trials were performed in each 4 groups of 1-wk-old male broilers (Ross 708) during 33 d. The pens of all groups (25 birds in each) were littered with wood shavings of critical moisture content. Two groups were fed high levels of Zn as zinc-oxide (150 mg/kg of diet), with normal levels of biotin (300 µg/kg of diet) or high biotin (2,000 µg/kg of diet). The other 2 groups were fed Zn as zinc-methionine (150 mg/kg of diet), with normal levels of biotin (300 µg/kg of diet) or high biotin (2,000 µg/kg of diet). External assessment of foot pads and measurements the moisture contents of excreta and litter were performed weekly. The signs of foot pad lesions were recorded on a 7-point scale (0 = normal skin; 7 = more than half of the foot pad is necrotic). High biotin supplementation resulted in a reduction of 30 and 18% of cases of foot pad lesions in trials 1 and 2, respectively. The combination of Zn-methionine and high biotin supplementation led to a decreased severity of FPD in a range of about 50 and 30% in trials 1 and 2, respectively. In broilers fed the diet containing zinc-oxide and normal biotin levels about 28 and 24% of the birds had the scores of 6 and 7 (= high foot pad alterations), whereas in birds fed Zn-methionine and high biotin no high alterations (score = 7) in the foot pad (0%) occurred in either trial. The presented results suggest that it is advisable to combine the maximum levels of Zn (especially of Zn-methionine) and high levels of biotin when clinically relevant alterations in the foot pad occur.