In 2018, EFA have included feather cover monitoring as the newest outcome based measure in your record keeping books. By monitoring outcome based measures in your flock, you can identify changes or issues early, which can aide you in understanding possible causes of the problem and thus potential solutions.
Foot health was selected by the Production Management Committee as the next measure because it can impact flocks in any type of housing system and has a significant impact on animal welfare throughout the life of the bird. Monitoring foot health can help you identify issues in your flock related to bird welfare, litter quality, dehydration and the functioning of equipment.
The 3 point scale for monitoring foot health was developed in the Netherlands for the Welfare Quality Assessment Protocols. To complete the monitoring, you will need to pick up the bird being assessed and look at the bottom of their feet. You will look for hard patches, flaky skin, swelling and wounds as you decide how to score the foot. The chart provided can help you determine which scoring to assign.
We suggest completing foot health monitoring at the same time as you monitor feather cover in your flock. To record the foot health scores from your monitoring, we have added a new column to the record keeping book as well as instructions on how to complete the monitoring.
Throughout 2019 Egg Farmers of Alberta will be building resources related to foot health management – watch Eggnotes and the Producer Website for updates!
If you use the monitoring tools for feather cover and foot health, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact Christina Robinson at 403-250-1197 x125 to share your stories – both of your successes and your challenges!