Investigation of the occurrence of pathological carcass alterations at the processing plant in meat turkeys reared in organic production systems in Germany
In the present study the occurrence of turkey carcass alterations such as breast skin lesions, liver lesions, and swelling of the hock joint in turkeys reared in organic farms was investigated at slaughterhouses in Germany. The examinations included 1,860 turkey carcasses of 2 turkey lines Kelly Broad Breasted Bronze(BBB) (540 toms and 540 hens) and British United Turkeys (Big 6 and The Test Product 7) (780 hens). The results showed that breast skin lesions were rare (1.7%). On the other hand, liver lesions were a common finding in both hens and toms. Nearly half of all investigated turkeys were affected (49.3%). Swelling of the hock joint was detected in 17.3% of all investigated turkeys; the occurrence in Kelly BBB toms was significantly higher than in hens (toms: 28.7%; hens: 16.9%). In general, there were significant differences between the investigated flocks. Carcass lesions are a major animal welfare concern, which affect conventional and organic reared turkeys. Investigating the occurrence of carcass lesions provides the necessary precondition to establish a benchmarking system to evaluate and compare turkey farms. The aim is to reduce and/or eliminate these alterations in the long term in order to improve animal welfare.