Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Crop Bound Chicken

A couple of weeks ago I received this email from a subscriber:

Re: sick chicken
Good Morning Gina - My daughter has a top-hat hen with a problem. She seems to be extremely thin yet her gullet is full and very hard. She's loosing any desire to move or eat rapidly. Thoughts? Could something be stuck? Is there anything that can be done? Force water?

Before I give my reply I would like to emphasise that I am not a trained vet or a chicken 'expert', just an enthusiast. It may help someone else in a similar situation, but then again, it may not. Here is my reply, for what it is worth:


It may be that she has eaten something hard to process - does she have access to grit (which is needed to break down food)? If not, then giving her a little bowl of grit to take what she needs from may help. If it is not that then it may be an impacted crop. The best way to tell if a crop is impacted is to take away the food at night, and see if the crop is empty by the morning (if it is still full and hard then you may have a crop problem). It is not something I have personal experience of but I have copied the following from the 'Success With Poultry - 900 Questions' ebook we sell (which was written by an experienced poultry man) regarding 'crop bound'. I have included the full answer here for informational purposes, but it may be better to just visit the vet if the oil solution does not help.

QUESTION What is the proper treatment for "Crop Bound ?"

ANSWER - Mild cases can be cured by giving a tablespoonful of sweet oil and one or two tablespoonfuls of quite warm water, after which knead the crop gently and force the contents out of the mouth, holding the bird head downward. If the crop is hard and much distended and the above treatment fails to give relief, an operation is necessary to remove the obstruction. Make an incision in the outer skin with a very sharp knife. It should be near the top and should be up and down, not more than two inches in length. Force the crop to one side before making an incision in it, so that when the wounds are sewed up the one in the crop proper will not be opposite the one in the outer skin, but will be entirely covered by the skin. After making the second incision remove the contents of the crop, after which cleanse it thoroughly with warm water in which has been placed a small quantity of any good antiseptic solution, four drops of carbolic acid to an ounce of water will answer the purpose. Stitch the cuts with silk thread, being particular not to fasten the crop to the outer skin. The wounds should heal in five or six days. Give no food at all for about twelve hours, and then begin feeding by giving milk for a day in small quantities at a time, then allowing soft foods, principally mashes, and in four or five days whole grain and the regular diet may be given.

Good luck

Best wishes

Happily the above advice seemed to do the trick as I received the following email back 3 days later:

Good Morning Gina - Hurray!! - With your information, my daughter massaged the crop and Moe seems to be feeling much better. The crop became softer and she's moving around, has raised her wings, she's drinking and eating. Things seem to be moving along much better now. Thanks much - Judy

Update August 2014 
There can be many things that can cause a chicken to become impacted - sometimes infection (ideally swabs would be taken by a vet to find out if bacterial or fungal) or general malfunction of the crop, or sometimes a physical blockage such as feathers, grass, hay, nails etc. (there was even a subscriber with bb gun pellets once). If the blockage is a physical one then simply giving a little oil and massaging the crop may be enough to help the blockage clear (a common 'old days' method as mentioned above). If it is an infection or some other problem with the crop which may require medicine, or it is a blockage that needs to be manually removed (i.e. surgery) then a vet probably would be able to help the best. A subscriber recently gave the  method she uses for clearing impacted crops


Anonymous said...

I have a bantam hen--the first one that I got, therefore she is very special.

She is maybe 2, but she has a large 'hump' on her rump (not to be funny)--almost like an egg is stuck, but I don't know how to even tell if that is the case. She has a foul liquid and odor that comes out of her mouth when she is picked up. She also emits an equally unpleasant odor from the other end if gently squeezed or probed. Otherwise she looks great. Her eyes are clear and bright. Additionally she won't fly and has been in a laying box all day. This is about the second day that I've been aware that she has had a problem.

Unknown said...

It might help to seperate her, somewhere nice and warm so you can see exactly what she is eating and drinking (and pooping - including colour and consistency) and hopefully get a better idea of what is going on - those kind of details will also help a vet if you are able to find one comfortable with treating chickens.

I don't know for sure what it is you are dealing with. There are a few basic things you can do that may help if it is a blockage which I have mentioned below. If it is some kind of infection then those methods will obviously not do much for her.

Bathing the vent in warm water for 30 minutes or so can sometimes help relax the muscles and help an egg pass. Oil (such as baby oil / olive oil etc) can be massaged gently around and in the area aswell to aid the output. If she hasn't pooped for a while then there is a chance it could be constipation - if so you could try offering her a scrambled egg with oil to eat (or something else with a bit of oil you know she likes ).

I hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

My chicken is very sick I'm not sure Wat do do she won't move she sleeps all day and whenever she tries to move she Falls over she is an ica brown chicken and she never eats or drinks anymore she just lies there and Sometimes she opens her eyes but she just closes them softly like she is in heaps of pain .. please HELP

Unknown said...

I'm sorry but I don't know what to do either - I'm not a vet. If you could take her to a vets that would probably be her best chance of getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. Meanwhile she should be kept somewhere warm and comfortable and away from the rest of your flock to help minimise any chance of anything spreading. Sometimes foods such as plain yoghurt and scrambled egg will be accepted by a poorly hen not keen on eating. If she hasn't laid an egg for a few days a stuck egg may be a possibility