This case series describes an emerging and ongoing lameness condition observed in broiler breeder males in flocks owned by a broiler integrator in the United States between February 2021 and April 2023. The lameness is characterized by an upright, penguin-like posture and gait. Affected flocks are typically 12–22 wk of age at presentation, but birds with similar stance and gross lesions can be observed as early as 1 day of age. Male mortality associated with this condition ranges from 0.01% to 6% per flock. The condition is infrequently observed in pullets from the female line but has not been observed in males (sex slips) from the female line. On postmortem examination, affected birds have bilateral hemorrhage due to a tearing of the iliotibialis muscles and fascia. In one case, a higher proportion of affected birds had unilateral lesions concurrently with broken legs or severe inguinal vaccine reaction. In this case, the affected leg was the weight-bearing leg. Histopathology confirmed the presence of hemorrhage in fascial sheaths surrounding major muscles, in addition to muscle fiber necrosis, edema, fibroplasia, and dissociation of tendon collagen. Bacteriology, histopathology, and clinical presentation identified no factors that were suggestive of an infectious etiology for this condition. No etiology has been established, but a suggested pathogenesis involves excessive biomechanical force resulting in tendon structural stress, leading to separation of tendon collagen fibers and associated muscle fiber stretching, separation, necrosis, and hemorrhage. The condition has been reported in multiple genetic lines, but the role of inheritance in the condition has not been fully evaluated.

You do not currently have access to this content.