Foot pad dermatitis (FPD) is a persistent health problem in turkeys, affecting not only the performance and welfare of the live birds, but also carcass quality. A study was conducted to evaluate extra dietary biotin, zinc (Zn), or mannan-oligosaccharides (MOS) in preventing the development of FPD in 2-week-old female turkeys over a period of 4 weeks. The birds were allotted to four groups, with 29 each, and housed on dry wood shavings in floor pens.
The turkeys were fed a control diet (300 μg biotin and 50 mg Zn/kg), high biotin diet (2000 μg/kg), high Zn diet (150 mg/kg) or MOS diet (1 percent). Half of the turkeys in each group were additionally exposed to wet litter (27 percent DM) for 8 hours per day in adjacent separate boxes. Foot pads were examined on days 0, 7, 14, 21 and 28, and assessed macroscopically and histopathologically for lesions.
Results indicated that high levels of biotin or zinc significantly reduced the severity of FPD on dry litter (score 1 versus 2 in negative control), but this did not happen when on wet litter. On the other hand, MOS failed to alleviate the severity of foot pad lesions either on dry or wet litter. As expected, the severity was substantially higher on wet (approximately three times) than on dry litter, for all treatments.
From this study, it can be concluded that adding high levels of biotin or zinc to the diet can reduce the development and severity of FPD on dry litter but without having any preventive effects on wet litter. It would have been interesting to test combinations of these ingredients, but this was not included in the experimental design.