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Soya bean meal increases litter moisture and foot pad dermatitis in maize and wheat based diets for turkeys but maize and non-soya diets lower body weight

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journal contribution
posted on 02.02.2018, 15:07 by P. M. Hocking, L. J. Vinco, T. Veldkamp

1. A 2 × 2 factorial experiment was conducted to compare the effects of wheat or maize based diets differing in dietary electrolyte balance (DEB) on litter moisture and foot pad dermatitis (FPD) at 4, 8 and 12 weeks of age in heavy-medium turkeys. A second objective was to investigate the effects on foot pad dermatitis of the interaction between dietary composition and artificially increasing litter moisture by adding water to the litter.

2. High DEB diets contained soya as the main protein source whereas low DEB diets did not contain soya bean meal. Diets were formulated to be iso-caloric and iso-nitrogenous in each of 3 successive 4-week phases following recommended dietary compositions. DEB concentrations were 330, 290 and 250 mEq/kg in high DEB diets and 230, 200 and 180 mEq/kg in low DEB diets.

3. Litter moisture and mean FPD score were higher in turkeys fed on high DEB diets compared with low DEB diets whereas there was no difference between maize and wheat.

4. Food intake was similar and body weight was lower after litter moisture was artificially raised in the wet compared with the dry litter treatment and there was no interaction with dietary composition.

5. Mean body weight and feed intake were higher in turkeys fed on wheat compared with maize and in high DEB compared with low DEB diets at 12 weeks of age.

6. Lowering dietary DEB for turkeys may improve litter moisture and lower the prevalence of FPD in commercial turkey flocks.


The experiment was funded by the BBSRC (contract number BB/L012022/1) as part of the FP7 ERA-Net ANIHWA, ‘Coordination of European Research on Animal Health and Welfare’ project TURKEYWELFARE [Grant number 182]. Financial support and poults were kindly provided by Aviagen Turkeys Ltd., Chester, UK. The Roslin Institute is supported by an Institute Core Strategic Grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/J004316/1).