Discussion created on 12/15/2009

Ascites in broilers

Forum: Ascites in altitude broilers

We have broilers at 3050 mts in the Caucasus and we’ve done a detailed study about chicken breeding in altitude, which presented us alternatives (we’ve reached mortality percentages of 5.3)
We want to get acquainted with experiences in the use of selenium doses (not from fish but from alfalfa) to replace phosphorus in cysteine, metionine and lysine, to give a true value to the protein.
We also need information related to the provision of vitamin K in these broilers to reach limits of positive tolerance for the bird.
Many thanks

Marcel Nahapetyan
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December 16, 2009
As I understand it wants to use selenium to treatment or increased resistance to the phenomenon of Ascites , but this phenomenon is linked to genetic factors and environmental in Ascites, so that there is elements of the feed to help fight this phenomenon and raise the resistance
Note the subject of my masters thesis on the phenomenon of Ascites has been used 4 commercial broiler strains and you inject a substance to be given the same effect as a bird in the highlands
if you discuss in this subject i will be happy
Researcher in poultry breeding
Arshaq Ramzee Arshaq Ramzee
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
December 16, 2009
Rearing of birds at high altitude usually leads to ascites and major reason for this condition is less oxygen at higher altitude therefore, red blood cells are not able to carry enough oxygen to cells, this condition has also produce fatal edema in humans especially in high altitude climbers and mountainers and best treatment to save lives are to carry the patient back to lower altitude as quickly as possible. People living permanently at higher altitude has higher red blood cell count, therefore, they have natural ability to encounter lack of oxygen. Better option is to try to raise level of hemoglobin, injection or ingestion of iron compounds usually help to build higher levels of hemoglobin especially in pregnant women. I think it is logical to use higher quantities of Ferrous sulfate or any other iron compound in feed at higher altitude.
Nadir Alloui Nadir Alloui
Veterinary Doctor
December 16, 2009
Several factors can involve the ascite. Most important is the reduction in oxygen in the broiler houses environment. The increase in the ammonia rate is also a factor predisposing chickens with this disease. The deficiency in selenium in feed diet can involve a disturbance in the cellular exchange metabolism. The ascite can be observed on the high ones and low altitudes when the breeding conditions are bad (defective ventilation, feed deficiencies, race of broiler chickens not adapted to the microclimate…). It is a pathology whose risk factors are varied.

Pr Nadir Alloui
DVM, Ph D Poultry Sciences
Batna University
Saif Ul Haq Saif Ul Haq
Specialist in Animal Nutrition
December 17, 2009
As far as I am able to understand your querry,please note these as tips ,first of all there is a documented positive correlation between the cellular integrity and the dietary Se contents and usually its 0.4 ppm of diet,secondly you can decrease the stocking density of your housed birds.
Kara Terki Abdelhakim Kara Terki Abdelhakim
Veterinary Doctor
December 31, 2009
HI all ,
just wanna to know you about what happened with ours broillers about ascite
in ours broillers ascites come often after 35 days old chick when we pass to finition feed from grower feed
this syndrom is very important when we use the DCP phosphorus without phytases
we have change the DCP and now we use the MCP with phytase
the problems is not just the ventilation but the oxygenation too (oxydative phosphorylation )
we havnt this problems again now .
Rodel Villaraza Rodel Villaraza
Animal Nutritionist
January 4, 2010


Just want ro respond on the inquiry. First the use of selenium in any sources cant replace phosphorus and other nutrients. Selenium doses helps with enough vitamin E for cell integrity during high altitude and ascites. Nutrition can be modified to adopt this situation. Indeed ferrous sulfate can help and also dietary electrolyte balance should be consider. And water quality and humudity condition.
Dr. Khalil Mian Dr. Khalil Mian
Consultant Animal Nutritionist
February 22, 2010
Ascities is not simply a problem of altitudes.
In my opinion, this is a multi-factorial problem. Let us look at its background.
During last 30 years, the scenario of poultry farming has been entirely changed. With genetic improvement, new fast growing breeds are evolved and growth rate of broilers is significantly improved. Latest research in animal nutrition helped to increased growth rate in broilers. Simultaneously there was a race to improve FCR. Now broilers are getting 35 [percent] higher body weights during same time with less amount of feed. The size of visceral organs including kidneys, lungs, heart and various parts of blood circulatory system could not grow correspondently. This situation has created very tight situation. Now a slight decrease in availability of oxygen mostly at high altitudes or improper ventilation results in occurrence of ascities. Level of salts in feed and especially sodium should also be strictly monitored. Deficiency of iron in feed or its unavailability is also a contributing factor of ascities.
May 27, 2010
Ascitis in broilers that too at high altitude.kindly check your ventilation ,level of Oxygen in the poultry hose ,specially during brooding period of first 2 to 3 wks.

Dr S Chandra
Dr Jaydip Mulik Dr Jaydip Mulik
Master Of Veterinary Science & Master of Business Administration
May 27, 2010
Dear All,

As per my past working experience with JAPFA at different localities in India, I have gone through the problem of Ascites frequently. On same nutritional feed formulations, we may face ascites at some localities very severe & at some areas it was nil. This was happening because of different environmental conditions viz. Temperature, humidity, wind velocity, Oxygen tension etc. at different altitudes. we have observed that Problem of Ascites in any broiler breed at coastal areas (west Bengal) & at high altitudes (Siliguri, Guahati etc) was more than in central Maharashtra.

After collecting the all metro logical data we have formulated the feed accordingly i.e. managed all nutrients which play the role in problem of ascites, viz. Energy, selenium, sodium, Iron, etc.

At high altitude the oxygen tension is low & is inversely proportional so to rear any genetically modified breed of bird for meat purpose you will have to manage all Environmental, nutritional & manage mental parameters.

Some TIPs on the same:

1) For better oxygenation try to provide artificial wind flow or rear the birds in environmentally controlled sheds
2) Reduce the density of birds in Open house farming.
3) Provide Iron & selenium rich diet.
4) If severity of Ascites is more them to reduce the BMR kindly reduce the energy in the diet.
5) Try to keep the litter/bedding material dry so that load of ammonia in house will be low.
Dr.sohail Ahmad Dr.sohail Ahmad
Animal Nutritionist
May 28, 2010

As per dicussion, Ascities or water belly or ventricular failure is not contagous. It is infuenced by genetics, breeding,
nutrition, growth rate,ambient temperature and most important is the Oxygen content of the air.It is no longer area
of high altitude.

Lack of oxygen lead to constriction of arteries, increased puimonary arterial pressure which results in right ventricle
hypertrophy. The right ventricle valve become weak, Which cause back flow of blood and fluid in tissues.

Resperiatory diseases also can aggravate this problem.In my personal experience . during rearing of broilers,
when inside house condition is not good e.g, gas fumes, carbon monooxide from brooders, in worse winter we tight
the house, stress of mycotoxin,use of rancid fat in shape of rice polish, increased of salt etc.

In personal when we wll be used furazolidone for a long period specially in high altitude ascities come in the broilers.
This may be due to furazolidone toxicity. I wanted , that other people will be discussed on furazolidone because
I may be wrong .

Good aeration , control teperature fluctation, litter management, Reduced light, provide low density of feed,
reduced sodium and furazolidone content of the diet and last specially during brooding, control respiratory
diseases like I.B, TRT, MG, and CRD etc which can play a important to incrased the ascities.

Dr. Sohail Ahmad (A. Nutritionist).
May 28, 2010
Thanks Dr. Sohail thanks for very informative discussions.
Hafiz Imran Shakoor Hafiz Imran Shakoor
Animal Nutritionist
June 18, 2010
My fellow members, you have discussed the issue very well but I would like to add my point of view.

Ascites is not a high altitude problem; this has to do with fast growing birds. Nutrients can’t be substituted rather they can add either synergistic and additive effect in the absorption and function of other nutrients or antagonistic effect. There are four major areas that should be addressed while planning suggestions for the prevention and treatment of ascites or pulmonary hypertension syndrome.


Genetic factors involved in the development of ascites are:
1. Inadequacy of lungs function
2. Fast growth rate of birds. We can minimize the expression of these genetic traits through nutritional and environmental management. Breeding companies are also working on this aspect.


Nutritional parameters responsible for ascites are high density ration, high sodium level, high level of mycotoxins, rancid fat or fats with high level of unsaturated fatty acids, deficiency of se, iron, vitamin E, vitamin A. we can easily manage these parameters to minimize the occurrence of ascities.


Factors that contribute to incidence of ascites are: poor ventilation, dust, ammonia and high stocking density. These are managing mental issues that could be corrected.


Pulmonary diseases like infectious bronchitis, Newcastle’s disease, fowl cholera, Respiratory diseases like CRD and diseases caused by gram negative bacteria like E. coli, salmonella, compylobacter as well as aspergilosis damage the lungs and respiratory system and ultimately predispose the bird to ascites.

Fast growth rate of birds results in elevated metabolism, oxygen consumption increases which magnify cellular hypoxia. Increases level of carbon dioxide and hydrogen ion due increase metabolism cause vasodilatation and decrease total peripheral resistance leading to increase in Venus return to heart. With increase Venus return, cardiac output increases and raising pulmonary arterial blood pressure and continue the development of pulmonary hypertension.

Free radicals and reactive oxygen species e.g. super oxide radical, hydroxyl radical and hydrogen peroxide are produced during normal metabolism, their generation enhanced by hypoxia. Increase production of reactive oxygen species and free radicals initiate the process of lipid per oxidation which eventually leads to membrane damage. Lipid per oxidation alters membrane structure and function. Increase blood pressure and membrane damage lead plasma seepage from cells to body cavity called ascitic fluid.

The most important nutritional consideration is: vitamin E level should be optimum or increase to counter act the generation of free radicals and reactive oxygen species. Addition of feed grade antioxidants is used to lower the amount of free radicals in feed. It is important, however, to maintain the level of vitamin A for membrane integrity.

The inclusion of Iron in the diet should be carefully monitored because iron released from the breakdown of haemoglobin acts as free radical and leads to lipid peroxidation.
September 30, 2010
Dear All,
A lot has been expressed by competent people on the subject. I would like to explain that as above said by many fellows the ascites is an outcome of genetics, environment, management and nutritional correlations. Fast growing modern day broilers dont have heart and lungs sufficient enough to sustain the increased oxygen needs. Environmental factors like high altitude, cold weather and poor ventilation predispose the birds to this condition. Limiting the growth rate by diluting the high density diets or partial light control in second and third week of broilers have shown benefits. Use of antioxidant like vitamin E and selenium which reduce the oxidative damage have shown promising results. Increasing the Iron alone will not increase heamoglobin as copper,cobalt and vitamin B6 are also required.Sodium in the diet should be carefully monitered.Understanding the patho-physiology of ascited and removing the possible causes will help in control of this problem.
Dr Jaydip Mulik Dr Jaydip Mulik
Master Of Veterinary Science & Master of Business Administration
September 30, 2010
Dear Experts/Subject Matter specialist who have participated in this forum related with Ascites have expressed thier views

very well & i hope now all the participants have satisfied on the subject matter.

I am very happy and thankful to all experts for expressing thier veiws which help me to clear my querries related to subject


Thanks & regards,

Dr Jaydip
Dr.sohail Ahmad Dr.sohail Ahmad
Animal Nutritionist
October 5, 2010
Thanks Dr. Imran,
In your comments, you have covered almost all aspects of ascities. During the visit of a broiler farm, I observed that litter quality is also very important because the farmer of this farm replaced first time litter of rice straw to woods. The mortality outbreak within 3-5 days of age due to ascities (about 3500 birds died within 2-3 days ). The birds are sent to Lab. for diagnose to know the causes of ascities. After the postmortum, it is clear that the birds have Aspergilosis and Salmonella positive.
So I think that proper treatment of litter is very important before brooding, side by side to knowledge the condition of the broiler breeder which supplies the day old chicks.

Dear Experts, could you please give us an answer to the questions mentioned before:

Is litter a source of Aspergilosis and Salmonella?
Which type of litter is best to avoid Aspergilosis?
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