The foundation of the condemnation practices in Post-Mortem Inspection (PMI) of poultry should be based on up-to-date scientific evidence about the cause of infection and hence whether the lesions observed are of food safety, animal health or welfare concerns. This study aimed to investigate the association between meat inspection codes, footpad lesions, and thinning of flocks in Danish broiler production. The data set was based on the delivery of chicken flocks to one of the two larger chicken slaughterhouses in Denmark, representing 71 farms, 174 houses, and 4,068 flocks over three years from January 2016 to December 2018. Post-mortem condemnation data of slaughtered chickens recorded and stored in the Danish Quality Assurance System (KIK) database was used in the study. Five potentially causal models were developed to investigate whether there was an association between dermatitis, arthritis, systemic infection, emaciation, mortality and possible explaining factors` (footpad lesion, age at slaughter, scratches, ascites, systemic infection and thinning of the flock). These five ecological logistic regression models were analyzed with the three levels: farm, house, and flock. Data from a total number of 126,137,002 (N) slaughtered chickens recorded in KIK databases were used for modeling and analyses. The prevalence of condemned carcasses was 1.1 % (n = 1,420,812). Overall, 12 individual reasons for condemnation of carcasses were recorded. The most frequently observed reason for condemnation was skin disease (scratches and dermatitis) with a prevalence of 0.5 %. Prevalence of ascites was 0.2 %, discoloration 0.09 %, emaciation 0.09 %, hepatitis 0.09 % and arthritis 0.07 %. In the first model, dermatitis was shown to be positively associated with age at slaughter with an OR = 1.04 (CI95 %: 1.02-1.05), while arthritis was considered an intervening variable. Moreover, there was a small protective effect of thinning of the flock for first and second delivery. There was a positive association between arthritis and age at the time of slaughter with an OR = 1.13 (CI95 %: 1.12-1.15). Systemic infections were associated with scratches with an OR = 24.5 (CI95 %: 16.6-36.3) and footpad lesions with an OR = 1.007 (CI95 %: 1.006-1.008). Further modelling of emaciation and mortality was not considered because of unbalanced groups in the data probably caused by the fact that some condemnation codes were rare. We observed that the most common causal factors of condemnation in the systemic infection models were scratches and footpad lesion, therefore preventing and controlling such lesions could reduce losses. Specific management and environmental etiological factors of the main infections causing condemnation in Danish broilers should be determined.
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