Acute Heart Failure

Acute heart failure is commonly called a Heart Attack. This is more common in large fowl that have been bred for size, especially cock birds but also in hybrid broilers that put on weight quickly.

For example, you keep large fowl Orpingtons and let your birds out in the morning, everything seems fine and then for no apparent reason, you find your large fowl cock bird who appeared to be healthy, dead in the run a few hours later, this is often due to acute heart failure / heart attack.

Species Affected: Chickens, more common in the larger breeds.

Other Names: Acute Death Syndrome, Sudden Death Syndrome, Heart Attack.

Symptoms: Dead for no apparent reason, with no previous ill-health. More common in large fowl cockerels or broiler type birds that are gaining weight too quickly, they suddenly drop dead. Neck is usually stretched out, bird is often found on its back. During the heart attack, legs usually kick, rolls over wings stretched, gasping and eyelids close and the bird is dead within a minute or two.

Area affected: Heart

Causes: Unknown – Could be the heart cannot take the rapid weight gain in fast growing broilers.

Transmission: Genetic, applies to specific breeds and strains.

Diagnosis: Post Mortem can show heart attack or the symptoms above if you see it happen.

Prevention: Grow fast growing hybrids slower, choose a slower growing hybrid, in large show strains of birds, don’t select for and therefore increase size too much.

Treatment: None.

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Tim Daniels

Tim is the founder of the poultrykeeper website and lives in Herefordshire, UK. He keeps Cream Legbar chickens, Silver Sebright bantams and hybrid layers for eggs, Abacot Ranger ducks, Brecon Buff geese and some quail.

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