3 years ago

Prevalence of foot disorders in captive Sardinian partridges (Alectoris barbara barbara Bonnaterre, 1790) as useful indicators of fitness to natural environment

M. G. Cappai, M. Muzzeddu, A. Abd El-Wahab, G. Arru, W. Pinna
Foot health represents an issue in wild avifauna breeding practices. In particular, prevalence of digital ulceration (DU) and foot pad dermatitis (FPD) are valid indicators of welfare in wildlife conservation centres and may be interpreted as to fitness for bird's reintroduction into the wild. This study meant to test the effects of raising practices on foot pad health in captive Sardinian partridges (Alectoris barbara barbara Bonnaterre, 1790) reared for biodiversity conservation, to assess welfare and fitness to reintroduction into nature. A total of 22 couples were allotted into two experimental groups. In one group, 10 couples were housed in 10 cages for breeding partridges, consisting of two animals each, with metal wire flooring system, above trays where droppings were collected. The remaining 12 couples were housed in six aviaries, consisting of four animals each, on natural (earth and stones) ground. In both groups, partridges were fed identical diets. No significant differences of food pad scoring were found between birds housed in cages (2.3 ± 0.4) and those reared in aviaries on natural ground (2.5 ± 0.6). Moreover, scores of male foot pads for both groups (2.4 ± 0.6) had no significant differences in comparison with female foot pads, independently on housing (2.5 ± 0.4). Body mass (BM) was higher (+4.36%) than average BM reported for wild Sardinian partridges. Digital ulceration was found in the 20% of females, exclusively from the cage group. Body mass of females in cages with metal wire flooring appeared to be significantly (p < .001) and negatively correlated (r = −.528) with DU prevalence. These results suggest that housing conditions impacts differently on behaviour of females and males in one same couple, and this relates to foot health, in particular as to DU prevalence.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/jpn.12847

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