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Poultry production: What causes water belly in chickens?

Question: What is water belly in chickens and what causes it?

The correct name for water belly is Ascites and it is an accumulation of non-inflammatory fluid in the abdominal area. The fluid is usually a clear yellow colour.

The following are possible causes of the condition:

Increased arterial pressure due to high altitudes or lack of fresh air in poultry houses can cause the condition. The environmental temperature, humidity and air movement in the poultry house have to be controlled to minimise excessive body heat loss.

Other causes are sodium levels that exceed 2 000 parts per million (ppm) – in other words, too much salt in the ration; lung, liver or kidney damage; and, in some cases, a possible breed susceptibility.

  • This article was written by Dr. Mick Versfeld and first appeared in Farming SA.

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