Lameness and mortality of 0.55% to 1.00% per week occurred in 32-to-33-wk-old broiler breeder hens in a complex involving eight houses. Males were not affected. Laboratory evaluation of 19 birds, over 2 wk, revealed complete rupture or partial tear, primarily of the gastrocnemius tendon; the fibularis longus, fibularis brevis, and flexor muscles and their tendons were injured in a few birds. Rupture of the gastrocnemius tendon has been observed in broiler breeder chickens older than 12 wk of age and it is characterized by lameness secondary to unilateral or bilateral rupture of the tendon. The cause of this condition has been primarily attributed to reovirus infection but rupture by other causes can also occur. In this case, there was no evidence of synovitis or reovirus infection in the birds. The cause of the ruptures was attributed to aggressive males when the ratio of males to females was increased from seven or eight males per 100 females at 22–23 wk to nine or 10 per 100 at 31 wk of age.
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Vol. 55 • No. 3