One of my clients has brought in a chicken which has ascites and liver failure, high liver enzymes, low urea, low albumen and low total protein. It does not have any red cell changes. The chicken has both ascites and respiratory symptoms.

Whilst I think this one is untreatable, there are two other chickens from the same batch of ex-commercial hens which have similar symptoms.

1) Are you able to post mortem the chicken and if so what would the cost be please?

2) Are there any available nutritional supplements for chickens?

3) What would be a likely cause of hepatitis?


In young birds, the most common reason for liver failure is inclusion body hepatitis, protozoal infections, blackhead and spotty liver caused by campylobacter. If not one of those, then it will be an infection either haematogenous spread or retrograde up the bile duct as with all other species. I don’t think this is primary hepatitis.

Ascites will cause respiratory issues as it will compress the air sacs in the abdomen. Also, respiratory disease can cause effusions in the body cavity. Birds are not straight-forward as there is only one body cavity, so all symptoms can look the same. Post-mortem can be done by ourselves as long as the birds are fresh and the price of this depends on what laboratory costs we occur. The cost will start at around £45 plus vat.

In regards to nutritional supplements, there is Zolcal-D (which provides Vitamin D and Calcium) and Poultry Multivitamins, which we can sell to you.