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Salt Poisoning (Ascites)

Prof.Dr. Ahsan-ul-Haq
Chairman Department of Poultry Husbandry University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan -38000
Tanveer Ahmad


In small amounts salt is essential for the well being of birds. In large amounts it has deleterious effects.

Symptoms (Acute Salt Poisoning)

  1. Excessive thirst.
  2. Progressive muscular weakness.
  3. Postmortem examination shows impaction of crop, where the usual semi-sour odor is absent.
  4. Inflammation of the gut and dark colored liver.
  5. Inability to stand.
  6. Convulsions and death.
  7. Hemorrhages and severe congestion in gastrointestinal tract, liver lungs, kidney and muscles.

Sodium Chloride (NaCl)

NaCl is required for cellular function and water distribution. young birds (Turkey and duck) are more susceptible than older stock (chickens). It is undesirable to add too much salt in feed or water because it will cause;

  1. Increased water consumption.
  2. Wet dropping in layer.
  3. Wet litter causes carcass down grading, breast blisters and hock lesions.
  4. Ascities may be present (belly contain water).
  5. Diarrhea.
  6. Severe kidney damage occur in young birds with renal failure and death.
  7. Postmortem findings include visceral gout and urates impacted ureters.
  8. Less severe toxicity results in cystic testes.
  9. Feed intake and egg production are depressed by 5% NaCl level in laying hen rations.
  10. Salt poisoning may cause Hydropericardium.
  11. Edema.
  12. Major symptom is water filling in the belly.

Potassium Permanganate (KMnO4)

This salt sometime used as disinfectant may contaminate drinking water and can be toxic causing death without any signs. The main lesions are hemorrhages and necrosis of crop wall.

Ingestion of too much salt is toxic to chickens. Toxicity depends upon the;

  1. Manner in which it is administered.
  2. Availability of water.
  3. Salt concentration in water.
  4. Age of the bird.
  5. Resistance which the birds might have developed.

Lethal dose seem to be about 4 gm/kg of body wt. of chicken.


Stop the source of salt i.e., water, feed or fish meal containing high salt.
Flushing and then Magnesium sulphate 1 Teaspoon/gallon of water or use Nephryl powder or Renyl powder @ 1 Teaspoon/gallon of water.
Use of good quality cereal especially corn grains for 2-3 days. Use simple formulation for three days

Dry milk=1/2 to 1 kg

[Note: The rest part of this article is related to Parasites of Poultry. This part has been placed as a separate article which can be accessed by clicking here.]

Source: This article has previously been published in THE VETERINARY NEWS & VIEWS [WEEKLY] and on World Veterinary Association web site (Oct 21, 2003 - 10:08 PM).



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