UK survey of broiler ascites and sudden death syndromes in 1993.

Research paper by M H MH Maxwell, G W GW Robertson

Indexed on: 03 Jul '98Published on: 03 Jul '98Published in: British poultry science


1. The mean incidence of deaths from ascites in the UK in 1993 was 1.4% (0.7% in 1991 and 0.9% in 1992) and 0.8% from sudden death syndrome (SDS). In total, the economic loss to the UK Broiler Industry in 1993 as a result of these 2 conditions was 24 Pounds M. 2. Clear geographical differences emerged in the occurrence of ascites, with, not only the lowest incidences being observed in Northern Ireland, but also the peak of the mortality from ascites occurring much later in the rearing cycle than in other regions on the mainland. 3. In all regions the incidence of SDS was lower than that of ascites but the reason for this disparity remains to be established. 4. Some of the variables associated with the road transportation of day-old chicks from the hatchery to the farm appeared to influence the incidence of ascites. These included distance or time travelled, stocking density, internal lorry temperature and the length of time the lorry was heated before transport as well as the time the shed was heated before chick arrival. Temperature was also an important factor during growth (brooding and finishing). 5. Negative pressure-powered ventilation was preferred in most organisations but more ascites was seen with positive pressure ventilation. However, the lowest incidence of ascites occurred with natural ventilation. There was more ascites relative to shed orientation when the wind direction was from the west compared to the east. 6. This survey identifies the extent of the problem of broiler ascites in the UK and also highlights the importance of good management control of day-old chicks, not only following placement, but even before their arrival on the farm.