Giving Chickens a Firmer Leg to Stand OnBy
Some leg ailments in broiler chickens are related to excessive dead cells in
the inner, larger bone just below the knee--called the tibia--which prevents
bone tissue from forming, Agricultural
Research Service scientists report.
Today's broiler chickens are bred for fast growth; the growth rate for
modern-day broilers is almost double that of 30 years ago. The bones do not
always have enough time to mature and grow properly.
This has led to problems of tibial dyschondroplasia (TD), a major metabolic
disorder that causes bone problems in chickens and turkeys, according to ARS
poultry physiologist Narayan
Rath in Fayetteville, Ark. TD impedes bone from replacing cartilage, causing
the tibia to be soft, fragile and prone to bone deformities and breakage.
Bone strength is related to bone density and mineral content. Chemical
bonding, called "cross links," ties together collagen fibers that form
the major bone structure, increasing collagen strength and eventually bone
Rath is examining the collagen cross links from birds at different ages to
learn more about bone strength. The goal: to see if cross links can be enhanced
to increase bone strength. The researchers hope to establish methods that will
reduce bone-related problems that cost the poultry industry millions of dollars
in losses each year.
More information on this research appears in the May issue of Agricultural
Research magazine. The story is also on the World Wide Web at:
An in-depth study on Rath's research on cell death and tibial
dsyschondroplasia appears in the January-March 1998 issue of Avian Diseases
Scientific contact: Narayan Rath, ARS
Poultry Production and Product Safety
Research Unit, Fayetteville, Ark., phone (501) 575-6189, fax (501) 575-4202,