While trying to appease consumer animal welfare concerns, some broilers have created outside space for their chickens. However, this relatively new accommodation is coming at a cost for the birds, specifically for their feet.
Herding chickens in and out of designated outside areas can cause their feet to get wet from sweat or water. Wet chicken feet can collect manure or other waste products, creating foot pad lesions.
A recent report from the Danish Centre for Food and Agriculture states that there are some preventative measures producers can put in place to avoid the painful burns on their chickens’ feet.
Heating the floor can help dry out chicken feet and make manure on the ground less likely to stick to their body. Circulating the air through proper ventilation is also important for keeping manure dry and not collecting together in one area, according to the report.
Different types of bedding could be tried by producers, but so far the studies have not stated if a specific type such as crushed straw or wood shavings are better than others.
Changes chicken feed can also change the consistency of manure. Some feed can help chickens produce less sticky waste products. However, the report points out that if chickens are given adequate exercise, they can remove the waste from their feet by themselves through scratching the ground.