What is ascites?

Ascites, commonly known as ‘’water belly” is a condition in which fluid accumulates in a bird’s abdominal cavity. The fluid may contain yellow protein clots, giving it a yellowish tinge.

Ascites is also known as:

  • Water belly
  • P.H.S. [Broiler Pulmonary Hypertension Syndrome]
  • High Altitude Disease
  • Oedema Disease
  • Heart Failure Syndrome
  • Dropsy

 

What are the causes of ascites?

Ascites has complex causes.The condition is predisposed by the following:

  • Poor ventilation,
  • High altitude
  • Respiratory disease
  • Liver damage caused by aflatoxins or any other toxins

Poor ventilation is very common during winter time as most farmers tend to close the chicken house in an effort to preserve heat in the chicken house.

In cases where charcoal/wood brooding is done, the net effect of closing the curtains to preserve heat leads to oxygen depletion since the charcoal/wood brooder also depletes the oxygen leading to build-up of carbon dioxide gases. This situation leads to depleted oxygen in the house leading to ascites as a result of pulmonary hypertension.

TYPICAL POST-MORTEM FINDINGS

 

Liver from the same bird

 

 

 

Liver from a normal chicken of same age

 

 

 

What can be done to prevent ascites?
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  1. Provision of fresh-air with Oxygen and reduction in the levels of Carbon dioxide and Ammonia in the poultry house may be beneficial to attenuate the problem. Poor air quality in the house (such as high levels of dust and ammonia) has been shown to exert an oxidative stress on the antioxidants of the lining fluid in the lung of broilers.
  2. Farmers should also pay attention to minimal ventilation during brooding. Make sure there is adequate ventilation for your birds while at the same time preventing excessive cold temperatures which can cause chilling of your birds especially during the first week. Even brief exposure to cold stress during the first weeks of life is known to predispose flocks to this condition
  3. Increasing the inlet area and ventilation rates, while also setting maximum ventilation rates for the summer and minimum rates for the winter will reduce the incidence of the disease.
  4. Furthermore, respiratory diseases should also be closely controlled in the flock since these diseases predispose the birds to Ascites.

 

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