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Anatomical and biomechanical traits of broiler chickens across ontogeny. Part II. Body segment inertial properties and muscle architecture of the pelvic limb.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
PeerJ
2167-8359
Publisher
PeerJ
Publication Date
Volume
2
Identifiers
DOI: 10.7717/peerj.473
PMID: 25071996
Source
Medline
Keywords
  • Development
  • Gait
  • Gallus
  • Growth
  • Hindlimb
  • Locomotion
  • Poultry
  • Scaling

Abstract

In broiler chickens, genetic success for desired production traits is often shadowed by welfare concerns related to musculoskeletal health. Whilst these concerns are clear, a viable solution is still elusive. Part of the solution lies in knowing how anatomical changes in afflicted body systems that occur across ontogeny influence standing and moving. Here, to demonstrate these changes we quantify the segment inertial properties of the whole body, trunk (legs removed) and the right pelvic limb segments of five broilers at three different age groups across development. We also consider how muscle architecture (mass, fascicle length and other properties related to mechanics) changes for selected muscles of the pelvic limb. All broilers used had no observed lameness, but we document the limb pathologies identified post mortem, since these two factors do not always correlate, as shown here. The most common leg disorders, including bacterial chondronecrosis with osteomyelitis and rotational and angular deformities of the lower limb, were observed in chickens at all developmental stages. Whole limb morphology is not uniform relative to body size, with broilers obtaining large thighs and feet between four and six weeks of age. This implies that the energetic cost of swinging the limbs is markedly increased across this growth period, perhaps contributing to reduced activity levels. Hindlimb bone length does not change during this period, which may be advantageous for increased stability despite the increased energetic costs. Increased pectoral muscle growth appears to move the centre of mass cranio-dorsally in the last two weeks of growth. This has direct consequences for locomotion (potentially greater limb muscle stresses during standing and moving). Our study is the first to measure these changes in the musculoskeletal system across growth in chickens, and reveals how artificially selected changes of the morphology of the pectoral apparatus may cause deficits in locomotion.

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