Ammonia Burn Keratoconjunctivitis i ...

Ammonia Burn Keratoconjunctivitis in Laying Hens

Happenings / Clinical Signs

Visibly sick birds

  • Few visibly sick birds

Eyes affected

  • Affected birds keep their eyelids closed
  • They rub their heads and eyelids against their wings
  • The cornea has a gray cloudy appearance and may be ulcerated
  • Edema and hyperemia  may be present in the conjunctiva
  • The condition is generally bilateral
  • Affected birds do not eat and become emaciated

Feed Consumption Changes

  • Feed intake reduced

Egg Drop

  • Egg production declines gradually
  • Drop in egg production may be affected and depends on the severity of the exposure to ammonia fumes


Ammonia burn describes a conjunctivitis in poultry caused by exposure to ammonia fumes resulting from unsanitary conditions.

Clinical signs include photophobia, excessive lacrimation, and respiratory congestion. Affected birds keep their eyelids closed and are reluctant to move. They may rub their heads and eyelids against their wigs. The cornea has a gray cloudy appearance and may be ulcerated. Edema and hyperemia may be present in the conjunctiva but often may not be very obvious. The condition is generally bilateral and affects birds which do not eat and become emaciated.

Causing Agents
Toxicity, due to high concentrations of atmospheric ammonia in enclousure or litter
Affected Systems/Organs
Respiratory System: Eyes (even low but constant exposure to 10-20 ppm ammonia is enough to cause some damage to the respiratory tract)
Mainly Affects
Performance: It could act as trigger for respiratory tract infections/complications
Appropriate environmental control. Prevention of the condition is based on proper ventilation and litter management. The ammonia fumes are formed in wet litter. Feed additives and ammonia reducing agents
Suggested Actions
  • Can be confirmed with clinical signs and gross lesions
  • Can be dealt with in house
  • Technical assistance recommended
  • Can be managed with feed additives, off-the-shelf medications

Impact on Egg quality


Impact on Liveability


Impact on Production


Overall Economic Impact


Y.M. Saif. 2008. Disease of Poultry. 12th Edition. page 1178

David E. Swayne. 2013.  Diseases of Poultry 13th Edition. page 1258

Mark Pattison, Paul F. McMullin, Janet M. Bradbury. Dennis J. Alexander. 2008. Poultry Diseases. 6th Edition.

Paul McMullin. 2004. A pocket Guide to Poultry Health and Disease. First Edition.

Steven Leeson, John D. Summers. 2008. Commercial Poultry Nutrition. Third Edition.

Donald D. Bell, Williams D. Weaver. 2009.  Commercial Chicken Meat and Egg Production. Fifth Edition.


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