New research from the University of Bern, Switzerland led by Dr. Sabine Gebhardt and published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science identified for the first time that keel bone fractures occur in broiler breeders as well. The study’s principal focus was to identify appropriate perching structures for hens through the provision of aerial perches and aviary tiers. Using two distinct genetic lines – Sasso and the smaller, Ross 308 – within a commercial operation, Dr. Gebhardt found that in pens provided perching structures, 10% and 50% or more of Sasso and Ross 308 hens, respectively, had moderately or severely deformed keels by 46 weeks of age. Fractures were seen in Control pens as well where at least 10% of hens had fractures. Although rates are considerably less than that seen in laying hens, the manuscript confirms that the problem of keel bone fractures extends to broiler breeders as well.
The research was funded by the Federal Safety and Veterinary Office of Switzerland (Project Number: 2.13.10) and is available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168159118300790.