The use of blood gas parameters to predict ascites susceptibility in juvenile broilers

P. van As, M.G. Elferink, A.M. Closter, A. Vereijken, R.P.M.A. Crooijmans, H. Bovenhuis, E. Decuypere, M.A.M. Groenen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Ascites syndrome is a metabolic disorder found in modern broilers that have insufficient pulmonary vascular capacity. Commercial breeding programs have heavily focused on high growth rate, which led to fast-growing chickens, but as a negative consequence, the incidence of ascites syndrome increased. However, not all birds with a high growth rate will suffer from ascites syndrome, which might indicate a genetic susceptibility to ascites. Information on blood gas parameters measured early in life and their relation to ascites susceptibility is expected to contribute to identification on the cause of ascites syndrome. In this study, several physiological parameters, such as blood gas parameters [pH, partial pressure of CO2 in venous blood (pvCO2), and partial pressure of O2 in venous blood], hematocrit, electrolytes (Na+, Ca2+, and K+), metabolites (lactate and glucose), were measured at d 11 to 12 of age from 100 female and 100 male broilers. From d 14 onward, the birds were challenged to provoke the development of ascites syndrome. Our results showed that high pvCO2 values together with low pH values (males) or high pH values (females) in the venous blood of juvenile broilers coincided with ascites. Therefore, blood pvCO2 and pH in both juvenile male and female broilers seem to be critical factors in ascites pathophysiology and can be used as phenotypic traits to predict ascites susceptibility in juvenile broilers at d 11 to 12. A prediction model was built on a subpopulation of the broilers without any loss in sensitivity (0.52) and specificity (0.78) when applied to the validation population. The parameter sex was included in the prediction model because levels of pvCO2 and pH that associated with ascites susceptibility are different between males and females. Commercial breeders can include these phenotypic traits in their genetic selection programs to reduce the incidence of ascites syndrome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1684-1691
JournalPoultry Science
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • carbon-dioxide tensions
  • growth-rate
  • chickens
  • lines
  • traits
  • hematocrit
  • resistant
  • failure
  • weight

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