Three well-defined, degenerative breast diseases of broiler chickens — woody breast, white striping and deep pectoral myopathy — are not associated with infectious or pathogenic agents, nor do they present a threat to food safety, according to a report just posted by the American Association of Avian Pathologists (AAAP).

All three breast diseases have been seen in all breed crosses of broiler chickens as early as 2 weeks of age, with varying prevalence under a wide-range of slaughter weights, management, feeding and rearing systems.

The exact cause or causes of these conditions have not yet been identified. However, inadequate blood supply to the tissues — which may result from sudden exertion, overstretching and/or compression — as well as a lower rate of blood supply and a decline in metabolic waste-product removal (carbon dioxide and lactic acid) from the muscle fibers are “likely to be involved,” AAAP said.

The AAAP white paper, “Breast Muscle Abnormalities in Broiler Chickens,” was authored by S.F. Bilgili, PhD, poultry professor emeritus at Auburn University. To download a free copy, click here.

The American Association of Avian Pathologists is an international association whose mission is to promote scientific knowledge to enhance the health, well-being, and productivity of poultry to provide safe and abundant food for the world. For more information, visit