Turkey turned purple and gasping


In the Brooder
6 Years
Sep 11, 2013
The Thumb of Michigan
This morning, when I went out to take care of the animals, I noticed a smaller broad breasted white turkey kind of hunched up and periodically jerking her head. So I immediately separated her from the rest of the flock. She rapidly declined and was gasping with every breath. She laid down, wouldnt move and her head started to turn purple and felt like she was suffering greatly so I culled her as quickly as I could. I decided to open up the carcass to see if anything was out of the ordinary and as soon as I cut into the abdominal cavity, a clear yellowish fluid poured out. It looked like urine but I've never seen it before processing chickens. BTW, this is the first turkey I've ever processed. We just got our turkeys earlier this year. The liver was very suspect. It felt a very thick walled and the color was kind of orangish beige. I'm really hoping that someone out there will be able to help me figure out what was wrong with this bird and if its contagious and/or edible. We processed her as if we were going to eat her but at this point, I am leaning towards not...

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How do you get that out of a live chicken? That is exactly what the fluid looked like...btw...I'll have to look up ascites....never heard of that before...
How do you get that out of a live chicken? That is exactly what the fluid looked like...btw...I'll have to look up ascites....never heard of that before...
Here is the hen and pictures that showed it. Pictures do not show the needle with syringe attached because I was draining and taking pictures.

Hen was cleaned with Chlorhexidine, had a 1" 18 gauge needle inserted and I syringed out about 500 ml of fluid.

I looked up the link you gave and it sounds very familiar. There was a lot of fluid in the cavity though, that's for sure. I'm very glad to know that it is not likely to spread to my flock of Narragansett's as ascites is more common in meat type birds.. Would you think that the meat is still edible? I'd hate to waste it if its unnecessary....
Sorry for butting in, but I just got serious with my small flock of turkeys and I've never heard of this. From what I read then, Paully's turkey died from eating a toxic plant which caused liver damage which caused a fluid build up? See, I live in Michigan too, and I'd sort of like to know WHICH plant it ate if that is the case. And, how common is this?
No...that isn't correct. The Turkey didn't die from ingesting anything. It was from congestive heart failure, which is common among meat type birds. Just like humans that get congestive heart failure, the chest cavity fills with fluid to the point that it chokes all of the organs to where they cease to function. Our birds are penned most of the time and only let out under strict supervision (High predator rate). They get to forage in the garden on occasion but never get to wander much beyond that. We have heritage and meat birds and the only one that had any issue was this one broad breasted white...
Ok. It's just you had mentioned the liver issue, then in the article regarding the ascites it mentioned that liver damage from plant toxins could cause the fluid build up resulting in the condition.
I inspected the heart and it was abnormal but I didn't see it at first. After reading the article, I went back and noticed it but didn't repost. My appologies. The liver was abnormal because of the fluid pressure on it. At least this is what I have ascertained from reasesrch after my original posting.

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