Abstract

Locomotion problems in meat poultry have multifactorial etiology. A better understanding of normal gait and its influences on biomechanical aspects of leg bones among turkey genetic lines is important to prevent skeletal disorders and locomotion issues. The objective of this experiment was to determine the possible differences in gait kinetic and kinematic parameters of turkey strains and their effects on bone biomechanical properties. Four genetic lines, named A, B, C, and D, were obtained and raised in 48 floor pens with new pine shavings. Leg health issues were classified at 16 and 33 d of age. Fifteen turkeys from each strain with apparent normal legs and gait at 33 d of age were selected for gait analysis. These 15 turkeys were trained to walk on a pressure sensitive walkway and video was recorded to calculate articulation movements. These data also were analyzed to obtain kinetic and kinematic parameters of the gait cycle collected at 47, 84, 107, and 145 d of age. At 20 wk all turkeys were sacrificed, and legs were collected and frozen for analysis. Weights and morphologic measurements of the femur, tibia, and shank were recorded. Bone mineral density (BMD) and content (BMC) were obtained using DEXA. Femur and tibia strength were evaluated by a 4-point bending test and torsion test, respectively. Gait parameters changed as toms aged and some differences were observed among lines. Genetic lines differed on BMD, but not on BMC. Strain D had a higher BMD and smaller diaphyseal angle than strain C, characteristics that were correlated with stronger bones. Strain D also had the lowest incidence of leg problems while strain C had the highest. Furthermore, the D strain had a smaller vertical motion of the toe than strains C and B at 47 d and strain A at 145 d, indicating that the D strain had a more efficient gait. In summary, genetic strains differ significantly on gait parameters, which in turn impacts bone biomechanics.

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