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Carcass Bruising (Photo: BIOMIN / Filipe Ribeiro)

Carcass Bruising

The consumer’s decision-making process when purchasing poultry products mainly takes into account appearance, hygiene and flavor. Poultry carcass damage or chicken carcass bruising affect a producer’s profits.

To help guarantee that the best quality product reaches consumers, several procedures should be in place. Veterinary inspection at the time of slaughter aims to guarantee that poultry carcasses are free from disease or fecal contamination. In the presence of one (or both) contaminations, carcasses are condemned and withdrawn from the food chain.

Carcass bruising/hemorrhage is one of several reasons leading to carcass downgrading (reduced quality) or condemnation in the slaughterhouse. It is caused by the breakage of blood vessels and subsequent leakage of blood into tissues without skin rupture. It is difficult to determine whether they occur at the farm, during transport or at the plant; therefore, any major financial losses that result are usually absorbed by the slaughterhouse.

According to scientific literature, the color of the bruise may be indicative of the age of the injury with red to dark red being recent bruises (≤ 12 hours) and light green, yellow-orange and yellow ones being older (≥ 24 hours). Some 90% of bruising occurs within 12-24 hours before processing, with breast, wings and legs the most frequently affected parts.

The potential causes for that are inadequate flock density in the grow-out house and/or the failure to properly adjust pickers at catching. At the abattoir, inadequate stunning (voltage and time) can lead to hemorrhagic petechial usually occurring in the breast and legs. The presence of pathogens in the farm, such as IBDV (Gumboro disease) may increase capillary weakness which leads to carcass bruising.

Mycotoxins such as aflatoxins (Afla) work in a similar way, by reducing the force required to produce bruises due to increased capillary fragility. Usually these occur in the thighs.

Mycotoxins

Potential causeChecklistCorrective action
Aflatoxin B1
  • Increases capillary fragility leading to bruising.
  • Animals present jaundice-like symptoms are dehydrated and emaciated. They present purple-reddish areas in the carcasses.
  • Histopathology of the liver.
  • Origin of raw materials from supplier/region with history of Afla contamination.
  • Check average contamination levels.
  • Positive for Afla in raw materials (ELISA) or feed (HPLC).
  • Prevent mold growth, purchase clean raw materials.
  • Avoid contamination of feed bins or feed/water lines by stale, wet or moldy feed.
  • Add an effective mycotoxin deactivator in the feed.

Nutrition

Potential causeChecklistCorrective action
Vitamin K deficiency
  • Impairment of blood coagulation is the major clinical sign of vitamin K deficiency. With a severe deficiency, subcutaneous and internal hemorrhages can prove fatal.
  • Hemorrhages may appear on the breast, legs, wings, in the abdominal cavity, and on the surface of the intestine.
  • Vitamin levels in the diet.
  • Presence of sulfur drugs.
  • Stress factors (eg, coccidiosis and other intestinal diseases).
  • Inclusion of menadione at 1–4 mg/ton of feed.
  • Correct drugs inclusion.
  • Intestinal diseases control.

Pathogens

Potential causeChecklistCorrective action
Infectious Bursal Disease (IBD)

Blood spots mainly in the legs and breast muscles.

Check maternal antibody levels at placement Necropsy: bursa of Fabricius is swollen, and bloody.
  • Adjust vaccination program to meet challenge conditions.
  • Increase biosecurity level.

Others

Potential causeChecklistCorrective action
Rough handling at outloading

Rough handling can result in carcass bruising.

Handling proceduresCorrect or train where necessary.
Stunning system

Stunning voltages can result in increased hemorrhagic petechial in legs and breast.

Voltage and timing of the electric shock.Correct the voltage.
Catching

Poor catching procedures

 Adjust picking machines and/or catching.
Animal density

High flock density at grow-out house.

 Procedure

Find this handy checklist and more in our Science & Solutions special issue.

Solutions

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