Hen diuresis syndrome has emerged over the past 5 yr as a significant cause of mortality in the U.S. broiler breeder industry. The condition affects hens in production and is characterized by transient muscle weakness in the vent region, transient diuresis, and often urate deposits on the skin below the vent. Affected hens are often seen straining to lay an egg, which suggests oviduct contraction is also impaired. Related hen mortality, often reaching 1% or more a week, is believed to be primarily the result of male aggression of the vent region (Turner et al., “Investigating Causes of Excessive Urate Production in Broiler Breeder Hens Associated with Peritonitis and Cannibalism Mortality,” Oral Presentation at The American Association of Avian Pathologists Annual Meeting, p. 139, 2010). The exact association between the cause of mortality and this syndrome is unknown, but it may be the consequence of transient partial to full oviduct prolapse, which predisposes or stimulates cannibalism and aggression. Based on unpublished work done prior to this study (Turner et al., ibid.), the evidence suggests the underlying problem is metabolic. We feel that urine collection and analysis is an essential component to understanding this condition. This study serves as a pilot study for future investigations that attempt to identify the nature and cause of the metabolic disturbance through paired urine and serum collection and analysis. For the purpose of this study, a small sample of 10 affected and 10 unaffected birds was used for sample collection. In order to collect pure urine, the birds were surgically colostomized. Colostomy did prove to be a useful means of collecting urine free of feces, and for the purposes of our study it yielded adequate urine samples for analysis. There were statistically relevant urine values observed. Affected birds had a higher presence of blood in the urine, a lower uric acid excretion rate (mg/hr), higher concentration (mEq/L) of urine Na , and a lower concentration (mEq/L) of urine K than unaffected birds. This pilot study helps to address some of the pitfalls previously associated with colostomy and to determine when collection can begin postoperatively so that we can better understand when and how to begin our sampling in future trials to address the etiology of this condition.
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Vol. 59 • No. 2