yellow fluid when gutting meat birds

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by paoniapoultry, Jun 6, 2011.

  1. paoniapoultry

    paoniapoultry In the Brooder

    Jul 21, 2009
    Paonia, Colorado

    i work at a small chicken processing plant that processes different people's chickens raised in our valley. occasionally we come across a batch of meat birds that doesn't look great. often the person reports a few of them have started dying a few days before they were brought in. some of the birds are literally FILLED with a yellow watery fluid that comes spurting out like a geyser when the carcass is cut below the breast bone for gutting. when this happens, i am always shocked by the amount of fluid that comes out, it seems like a lot for such a small space. some of them just have this fluid around their heart, held in the sac that covers the heart, and sometimes the heart is like a raisin sitting in this yellow fluid too long.

    i raise my own birds and have never come across this in my own flock. i don't raise cornish cross though, and i don't think i have ever seen this yellow fluid in a bird that was not cornish cross.

    anyone else ever seen this? what causes it? all we know is that these birds with the yellow fluid were on their way to dying because of this fluid. for a while i thought it was cornish cross that got too big, but we did a batch the other day that was not too big (maybe older though, i don't know) and a lot of them had this yellow fluid. I also wonder if it is related to feed.

    thanks for the help, we're all interested in knowing what is causing this, and your thoughts will give me something to talk about next time i head up to gut chickens.


  2. itsy

    itsy Songster

    Mar 14, 2011
    New England
    Dogfish posted this in a recent thread :

    CHF. Heart failure.

    Listless, not eating, head down?

    Comb was probably purplish, not bright red when alive, correct?

    Looked bruised when dead, and when you opened it, a lot of clear yellow fluid?

    If the answers to most or all of those symptoms is yes, it probably that.

    If you see another one like that, cull immediately. Pluck & clean, let rest, etc.

    I would also cut the amount of feed you give them and go to a 12 on-12 off feed schedule if you aren't already doing that. You will likely have a few more deaths until you butcher, but if you makes those changes, they should slow down and stop.​
  3. njensen

    njensen Hatching

    Apr 13, 2011

    I have no doubt this is ascites. Do a quick Google for the term 'chicken asites' and you will get a description that will convince you beyond a doubt. I can't post links yet, but if you can look for the Merck vet manual, there is a great article there as well.

    I have been fighting it in my flock for quite some time. I have tried many things, and have come to the following conclusions:

    1. Altitude is a big contributor... I am raising them at around 5K feet in Southern Idaho, and it has certainly been a challenge
    2. I used to live in C-Springs, (taught at the AF Academy), and raising them there was nearly impossible
    3. Limiting feed can help, but it isn't a cure all either
    4. Keeping them outside and active rather than laying down with their head in a feeder helps too
    5. Temperature extremes are not a good thing, both in the hot and cold direction
    6. Some batches, (even from the same hatchery), are better than others. I have gotten some batches that I will get over 90% survival, and others that are *much* worse.

    So, I'm sure there are environmental controls that can help, but genetics plays a huge role too. I would be interested in your take on causation as you see birds from various parts of the state. Is it an environmental thing or a genetic thing in your opinion?

    Last edited: Jun 6, 2011
  4. paoniapoultry

    paoniapoultry In the Brooder

    Jul 21, 2009
    Paonia, Colorado
    Thank you for the response, that's a great amount of info...

    It sounds like ascites, and I find the altitude aspect very interesting. Downtown Paonia is about 5400' but the surrounding mesas and around the valley can go up to 7-8K and down to 4K. I am excited to see if I notice a difference with where the chickens came from.

    I wonder about limiting food at night, I have heard of that.

    I also wonder if it is solely a cornish cross trait or if other breeds can have it too... I have never seen it in my flock.

    I'll let you know if I notice anything more related to environment, feed, or genetics.

  5. PotterWatch

    PotterWatch My Patronus is a Chicken

    Apr 22, 2008
    Other birds can get it as well, it's just far more common in cornish cross. A friend of mine brought one of her layers to me for processing but we didn't end up keeping the meat because she was like a beach ball full of fluid.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by