Help! A bunch of my laying hens have Ascites Syndrome!

themck

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So far I've lost 4 of my hens to Ascites over the past few months. Two Buff Orpingtons and two Silver Laced Wyandottes. Two more of my buffs now have swollen water bellies... I can't figure out what's causing it!

I've done my research and know that the ascites is caused by organ failure, but I can't figure out if it's just genetic or if there's something going on in their environment that is causing the organ failure. I'm pretty convinced that it's something in their environment due to the large number of hens in my flock that are coming down with ascites so quickly.

I did a necropsy on one of the hens and she was filled with yellowish liquid (probably more than a quart) and her internal organs were COVERED in yellowish protein lumps.
I tried draining two of the hens and apparently drained them too quickly and they suffered from cardiac arrest. I've learned my lesson the hard way on that one..

The water that I use for the coop is catchment water. I live in Hawaii.. and the water her is notoriously soft. So I don't think it's from too much salt. The hens are about two years old. They seem too young to be dying from heart failure.

Help! This is breaking my heart and I feel helpless. We don't have a vet on the island that will see poultry. :(
 

21hens-incharge

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They are young so this is distressing. Did you get them all from the same place?
From what I understand it is preceded by heart disease or tumors on the heart or liver. The yellow spots you found could be that perhaps?
Unfortunately there is no treatment.

I did read that it is genetically linked. Likely their condition is genetic.
Merckvetmanual.com has a bit of information on it.

Sadly hypertension is common in chickens. I have lost a few just under a year old to sudden heart failure.
 

themck

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They are young so this is distressing. Did you get them all from the same place?
From what I understand it is preceded by heart disease or tumors on the heart or liver. The yellow spots you found could be that perhaps?
Unfortunately there is no treatment.

I did read that it is genetically linked. Likely their condition is genetic.
Merckvetmanual.com has a bit of information on it.

Sadly hypertension is common in chickens. I have lost a few just under a year old to sudden heart failure.

Yes, I ordered them all from the same hatchery and had them shipped to Hawaii.
So far it has only occurred in my buffs and silver laced wyandottes. None of my black australorps (knock on wood) have come down with ascites. They were all ordered together from the same hatchery.

It's possible that it's just genetic, but I don't want to leave any stone unturned... in the chance that it's not genetic. I want to be able to help my girls :(
 

21hens-incharge

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Mycotoxins in poultry feed is something I am reading about and is from the environment (molds).
Aflatoxin is another thing to read up on. I am just starting to read about them so do not know much.
Those two look to have a link to hypertension which is associated with ascitis is chickens.

Hawaii would have ideal conditions for both I think.
 

casportpony

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Sorry for your losses. :hugsSometimes the stress of draining them will kill them, but I doubt that you did it too quickly. If they are open mouth breathing when you start draining they are in pretty serious trouble.
 

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