Gout is a clinical manifestation of severe kidney dysfunction in chickens, characterized by high levels of uric acid in the blood and the deposition of urates on internal organs surface and joints, especially the hock joint. It is not a disease but rather a symptom of an underlying problem.
Gout is a major problem in laying hens that are fed high levels of calcium, as the excess calcium leads to kidney dysfunction and hyperuricemia, which can cause gout development. There are two distinct forms of gout in chickens: visceral gout, which affects the internal organs, and articular gout, which affects the joints. Death from gout is usually due to kidney failure.
Gout Management in Chicken
Causes of Gout Disease
- Kidney dysfunction: Gout is a clinical sign of severe kidney dysfunction, which can lead to an accumulation of uric acid in the blood.
- Hyperuricemia: Elevated uric acid levels in the blood can also lead to the development of gout.
- Excessive dietary calcium: High levels of dietary calcium or an imbalance in the calcium-phosphorus ratio can increase the production of uric acid and contribute to the development of gout.
- Vitamin A deficiency: A deficiency of vitamin A can affect the bird’s ability to excrete uric acid, leading to the accumulation of urate in the body.
- Increased intake of protein: High-protein diets can lead to increased uric acid production, which can contribute to the development of gout.
- Excessive salt intake: Intake of excessive amounts of salt can also contribute to the development of gout.
- Urolithiasis and mycotoxins: Urolithiasis, or the formation of urate crystals in the urinary tract, can lead to kidney damage and the development of gout. Mycotoxins in feed can also contribute to kidney damage and the development of gout.
- Electrolyte imbalances: An excess or deficiency of certain electrolytes can affect the bird’s ability to excrete uric acid, leading to the development of gout.
- Prolonged treatment with sodium bicarbonate: Prolonged treatment with sodium bicarbonate can lead to alkalosis, which can impair kidney function and contribute to the development of gout.
Symptoms of Gout Disease
- Swollen joints, with deposition of chalk-like material
- Painful or tender joints
- Reluctance or inability to move
- Difficulty standing or walking
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Reduced egg production in laying hens
- Swollen internal organs, such as the liver or kidneys
- Abdominal distension or bloating
- Difficulty breathing
- Reduced appetite and weight loss
- Lethargy or weakness
- Reduced egg production in laying hens
Treatment and Control of Gout Disease
Gout is a metabolic disorder that affects birds, especially broilers, and can result in high mortality rates. The following is a list of treatment and control measures for gout:
- Water management: Provide plenty of water and adequate drinkers for birds. Add Aquacure to the water, which helps to maintain electrolyte balance.
- Diet management: Avoid a diet higher in protein than the recommended level as per the age and breed. Provide a low protein diet for 3-5 days based on need depending on the severity of gout.
- Vaccination: Review the IB vaccination program. In areas where IB is endemic, it is advisable to vaccinate with the nephrotropic strain around day four. Day one beak dip vaccination has proved to be beneficial in broilers.
- Use of urine acidifier: An acidifier can be used to prevent the formation of uric acid crystals. Using urine acidifiers like ammonium chloride can help in the excretion of uric acid.
- Vitamin supplementation: Ensure adequate levels of A, D3, K, and B complex vitamins in the diet to improve bone health and mineral metabolism.
- Avoid excessive use of sodium bicarbonate: The excessive use of sodium bicarbonate (more than 2kg/ton) should be avoided as it can result in alkaline urine and make the formation of uric acid crystals more likely.
- Use of electrolytes: Electrolytes can be given through water to help control mortality rates. These can help to restore the electrolyte balance and improve the overall health of birds.
- Use of medication: Gout Suraksha of Growel is a highly effective medication that can help to treat and control gout in birds.