Veterinary Research Communications

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 51–62 | Cite as

A Study of Electrocardiographic Patterns in a Population of Commercial Broiler Chickens

  • A.A. Olkowski
  • H.L. Classen
  • C. Riddell
  • C.D. Bennett


Olkowski, A.A., Classen, H.L., Riddell, C. and Bennett, C.D., 1997. A study of electrocardiographic patterns in a population of commercial broiler chickens. Veterinary Research Communications, 21 (1), 51-62.

A study was completed to characterize the electrocardiographic (ECG) patterns of male broiler chickens. Data were collected from 300 commercial broilers. ECG readings were collected from all birds between 12 and 15 days of age and then twice more at 10-day intervals. The measurements included heart rate and rhythm, QRS complex duration, amplitude and mean electrical axis (MEA), incidence of ascites and incidence of sudden death syndrome (SDS). Eight birds died from SDS and 4 birds died from ascites. Twelve birds were condemned for ascites at the processing plant. The overall population heart rate declined with age. Birds that died of SDS had a higher heart rate, whereas those that developed ascites had a lower heart rate than the remainder of the population. The normal MEA was found to be between 0° and 180°. On average 30% of birds showed left or right QRS axis deviation, and this pattern was observed in 14 of the 16 birds that developed ascites. Several types of cardiac arrhythmias were observed, the most common being premature ventricular contractions (PVC). The incidence of PVC increased with age, ranging from 1% at 12-15 days of age to 8.9% at 32-35 days of age. QRS axis deviation was present in 5 SDS birds. It is concluded that some 30% of the broiler flock tested was at risk of developing heart failure or heart-related disease.

arrhythmia ascites broiler chicken ECG heart sudden death syndrome 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • A.A. Olkowski
    • 1
  • H.L. Classen
    • 1
  • C. Riddell
    • 2
  • C.D. Bennett
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Animal and Poultry ScienceUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Veterinary PathologyUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada

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