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Breast Buttons in Poultry

By Frederic J. Hoerr, DVM, PhD, DACVP, DACPV, Veterinary Diagnostic Pathology, LLC ; Billy M. Hargis, DVM, PhD, JKS Poultry Health Research Laboratory, University of Arkansas;Department of Poultry Science, University of Arkansas

Breast buttons develop in a location similar to that of breast blisters (see Breast Blisters in Poultry). They have a localized, hard crust on the surface and a core of dead skin and chronic inflammation extending into the subcutis. The cause is not well defined, but a breast button may start as a chemical burn due to prolonged contact of poorly feathered skin with wet litter containing ammonia or toxins. The presence of good quality, dry litter is associated with a reduced number of affected turkeys.