Lameness in broilers due to the most common cause of the condition, bacterial chondronecrosis with osteomyelitis, may be reduced by administering probiotics prophylactically from the first day of rearing, according to the results of research conducted by scientists at the University of Arkansas

Over the course of five experiments conducted from December 2009 to April 2011, the researchers found that adding probiotics to the birds’ diets beginning at one day of age consistently reduced the incidence of lameness for broilers reared on wire flooring. Probiotics may lessen or even eliminate the need for antibiotic treatment of related disease conditions in growing broilers, according to the results.


The researchers developed a wire-flooring model that reliably induces lameness in broilers at levels sufficient to allow in-depth study of the condition. “We feel confident that this new model will allow researchers, for the first time, to more deeply investigate the etiology, pathogenesis and treatment strategies for BCO,” said Dr. Bob Wideman, lead author and professor at the Department of Poultry Science at the University of Arkansas. “This should lead to more effective preventive strategies applicable to commercial flocks, which in turn will help decrease economic losses due to BCO.”

The full study was published in the April edition of Poultry Science.