Histologically-validated footpad dermatitis scoring system for use in chicken processing plants

Br Poult Sci. 2012;53(3):275-81. doi: 10.1080/00071668.2012.695336.


1. Footpad dermatitis (FPD) is a recognised welfare problem in broiler chickens. Broiler feet (n = 54) were examined macroscopically and microscopically to determine a reliable correspondence between macroscopic and histological features, and to devise a scoring system that was relevant to bird welfare and easy to use at processing plants. 2. Three types of footpad lesion were defined based on their severity. Type I were mild lesions, visually characterised by scale enlargement and erythema, and histologically by hyperplasia and hyperkeratosis of the epidermis, superficial dermal congestion and oedema. Type II were moderate, superficial lesions, visually characterised by hypertrophic and hyperkeratotic scales covered with yellowish to brownish exudate, and histologically by a prominent pustular and crust-forming dermatitis. Type III lesions were the most pronounced, visually characterised by a thick dark adherent crust, and histologically by extensive ulceration. 3. On the basis of the severity and extent of these three types of lesions, a 5-point scale was devised, i.e. no or type I lesion (score 1), type II lesion (<50% or >50% of footpad, scores 2 and 3 respectively) and type III lesion (<50% or >50% of footpad, scores 4 and 5 respectively). 4. The scoring system has the advantage of making sense in terms of welfare compared with previous schemes. Furthermore, it is histologically validated and easy to use for the routine assessment of broiler welfare in processing plants.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abattoirs*
  • Animal Husbandry*
  • Animal Welfare
  • Animals
  • Chickens
  • Foot Dermatoses / epidemiology
  • Foot Dermatoses / pathology
  • Foot Dermatoses / veterinary*
  • Poultry Diseases / epidemiology
  • Poultry Diseases / pathology*
  • Prevalence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Staining and Labeling / methods*
  • Staining and Labeling / veterinary