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Crop impaction saga(s)

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Started offering scratch grains last weekend to my "free ranging" (inside electro-mesh netting) EE flock, due to recent low temps (below freezing), as I do every winter.  Thursday a.m. I brought in "Violet", because she looked like she was going to keel over on the roost.  She was left alone indoors in a cat crate for the day with only ACV water.  Amazingly, she was still alive when I got home from work.  Upon closer inspection that afternoon, she appeared to have a large, sour crop, and smelled like old bread dough/brewery.  One tip sideways over the sink, and she vomited up mostly clear, sour mash smelling liquid with bits of this and that.  She's been inside since, eating plain yogurt (greedily) and drinking ACV.  I offered her tiny amounts of layer pellet yesterday afternoon and this afternoon, and she seems to be moving everything along.  I think I will return her to the flock tonight after bedtime.

Friday morning, I noticed my heavily molting "Frigga" had an enormous right breast, and upon closer inspection, her crop was a baseball full of gritty material, and she was a bag of molting bones!  Oy vey!  In she came with Violet. the two transferred to the giant dog kennel.  Frigga seems perky and feisty enough, just skinny.  Friday afternoon, I used a dropper to introduce as much baking soda and water down her throat as I could (1/2 C b.s. to 1 pint water), bit by bit, massaging.  She was burping up air that smelled like dog poo!  I could not get her to bring up anything.  Saturday, I switched to olive oil.  So far, I think she's not aspirated anything from me force feeding her with the dropper.  Sat. & Sun. the burps smell like compost.  The mass has been looser, more maleable, gradually smaller, but I can not get her to bring anything up.

I know there are risks of aspiration when bringing things up from the crop, but I feel every time I force the dropper down her throat, I risk causing aspiration, too.  She is less than cooperative with the forced feedings.  She looks like a cast member from the chicken musical "Grease".  She has the ACV and yogurt available at all times.  I tried a molasses mixture (4Tbsp to 1 Q water) but they just stared at it.  After about an hour, I swapped it out for ACV mixture, because I want them to drink as much as possible.

I have not found a source of Nystatin yet.

Oh, and the fact that she's in a heavy molt right now means my tiny bathroom looks like a beach when I'm done working with her, for all the dander on the floor!  I got about a Tbsp. or two of olive oil into her today, still no vomit.  Poor girl's exhausted:(

Any suggestions?  What are your techniques for force feeding?  I can't imagine how anyone could introduce a plastic tube down into the crop for flushing!

Also, just remembered, a few weeks ago, I switched to the metal water fountain (to use with the base heater), and so they have been getting plain water instead of the ACV mixture they were on all spring & summer in the plastic fountain.  Lack of ACV + new grains + greedy chickens = crop issues?


Edited by Aimless Farmer - 12/12/10 at 11:32am
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post #2 of 6

The one with sour crop needs to be emptied every day, twice if possible. Feed her activia yogurt, don't feed her much - if any - dry food right now, not until the "sourness" is gone. When you do, mix a bit of regular food in the yogurt at first. Keep making her vomit untill she is better (aka no smell). I've never been told to, or heard of the baking soda, but I'll let someone more experience talk about that. DO NOT put this bird back in untill she is 100% - and I mean 100% better.

Edit: If your having problems making her puke, stick her up under your arm over the toilet. Tilt her at a 45-70 degree angle or so over the toilet, and GENTLY squeeze her crop. Do this in small bouts so she doesn't choke. Let her breathe for a bit after each.


The one with the crop impaction - if she is acting better, things are looking up. The olive oil is a good route. Don't give her dry food - wet, very mushy food only. Massage her crop as much as possible.

Electrolytes in the water would be a good idea for both. I'm not sure about meds to treat the sour crop hen - I used to have notes, but last winter when holly (my spoiled rotton sussex hen) stayed in almost all winter for sour crop, I don't think I gave her anything but oxytetracyclene and chlorhexadine (at different times) but you have to get those from a vet.


Edited by ChickenWisperer - 12/12/10 at 12:53pm
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post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

The one with the sour crop seems fine now.  Ravenous, perky, fluffy, active and no longer smelling of brewery.  She steadily eats any and all yogurt I put in for them.  Offering small amounts of pellets on and off a few times today.  Crop seems fine.  She's going back out with the flock tonight, and I'll keep a close eye on her.

The one with the impaction was very tired after our morning massage session.  I'm worried that I can't bring anything up from her crop.  I've held her sideways and upside down, while massaging every which way.  I can't seem to milk anything up the esophagus.  I've consulted anatomy pictures, and it doesn't seem like it should be this difficult.  I don't want to injure her by massaging too aggressively.  I haven't seen her drink since our morning session, either, but I haven't been staring at her steadily.  No evidence of her eating yogurt (none on her beard feathers), either.  She wants the pellets BIG TIME that I offered the other hen!  I felt bad:(  She's so boney and small-looking.

Should it be this difficult to get this stuff up?

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post #4 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aimless Farmer 

The one with the sour crop seems fine now.  Ravenous, perky, fluffy, active and no longer smelling of brewery.  She steadily eats any and all yogurt I put in for them.  Offering small amounts of pellets on and off a few times today.  Crop seems fine.  She's going back out with the flock tonight, and I'll keep a close eye on her.

The one with the impaction was very tired after our morning massage session.  I'm worried that I can't bring anything up from her crop.  I've held her sideways and upside down, while massaging every which way.  I can't seem to milk anything up the esophagus.  I've consulted anatomy pictures, and it doesn't seem like it should be this difficult.  I don't want to injure her by massaging too aggressively.  I haven't seen her drink since our morning session, either, but I haven't been staring at her steadily.  No evidence of her eating yogurt (none on her beard feathers), either.  She wants the pellets BIG TIME that I offered the other hen!  I felt bad:(  She's so boney and small-looking.

Should it be this difficult to get this stuff up?


Oh! The one with crop impaction CAN'T puke! Don't try to force her to. The only thing you can do for her is massage and hope it passes through. If it doesn't, you'll have to cull, let her die, or surgery....

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post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

Violet (orig. with sour crop) went back with the flock last night, and seems okay, though the flock had a Hell of a day today.  Lost my second chicken in a month to hawk strike!  Grrr...(RIP my lovely Dandelion).  I'll check Violet's crop again in the morning.

As for Frigga (impacted), her crop seems smaller, and remains soft now, though still full of gritty matter.  I think it may have felt warmer today, which worries me.  She was back to burping dog poo this evening.  My husband could smell her from afar.  Didn't get to olive oil her yesterday, due to my work schedule, though did some massage.  Today I mixed the olive oil with molasses.  Got about two tablespoons of the mixture into her.  I'm worried about the festering in her crop.  I read molasses is good for combatting the toxins and I want to get some sugar into her for energy.  She doesn't appear to have any appetite today.  I haven't seen her drink.  Violet was revenous once I made her vomit.  Frigga has been pooping, and I noticed today they are liquidy, smaller and with bright green solids with some white.  Violets was yellow and very liquidy, and she pooped a lot when she was in.  I'm worried that she smells so bad again, but I realise I didn't get to give her any oil yesterday.  I'm worried that she has no interest in the yogurt, applesauce or water w/ACV.  She's been inside getting treatments since Friday morning.  No vomit still.  Part of me wishes she could expell some of this so it doesn't have to go through her entire digestive system, but I'm also afraid it's so toxic, that the risk of her aspirating any of this garbage is too dangerous.

Worry, worry, worry...

What else can I do for her?  Go back to the baking soda and water?

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post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Figured I'd update this with some new information. 
I found a local vet who does chickens!  (Dr. Flinkstrom in Lunenburg, MA, we love you:))  I went there looking for tubing to try to flush her crop at home.  Thank God I didn't!  He did a crop lavage (flushed the crop several times with a betadine "tea", warm water with enough betadine to make it look like tea.)  He got out a LOT of wicked, aweful, stinky liquid, it was horrifying, but the gritty matter was just too big to pass through the tube.  He cultured the pukey liquid to determine it was a bacterial infection, not fungal, and this informed him of the appropriate antibiotic to prescribe (Erythromycin).  He also recommended Laxatone, instead of the olive oil, and his reasoning made complete sense...The olive oil is digested, so only lubricates so far down the digestive system.  The Laxatone (or similar hairball remedy) is petrolatum based, and nondigestible, and therefore lubricates the entire digestive system.  Pure mineral oil can also be used.  We also xrayed, to see if anything metalic was present in the chicken, and possibly see if there was a visible blockage or tumor.  No metal, no visible blockage or tumor.  Very large liver, which I suspected due to her florescent green liquid poo.
So the new home routine became forced feedings 2x per day: 20cm buttermilk (for nutrition), .25ml children's liquid Erythromycin (for 10 days), 1ml laxatone.  It was touch and go, she was so weak and scrawny.  Once she had a bit of an appetite, I offered the antibiotic in a tsp. of oatmeal cooked with bittermilk, and after the Laxatone in a tbsp. of the cooked oatmeal.  Later pffered slices of peeled apple (no core or seeds).  The gritty matter slowly disappeared from her crop.  One day it was finally completely empty in the morning.  A day or so later, I started mixing her layer pellets with hot water to make a mash, and mixed it into the cooked oatmeal, also adding soaked/soggy fish-based dogfood kibble.  Gradually increased the ratio of pellet mash to oatmeal.  Started offering brussels sprouts (she works out her aggression on these!).  Later, mixed the dry, uncooked pellets into the oatmeal, then just small amounts of straight, dry pellets.  Now, about a month later, she's eating 1/8 cup of pellets several times a day.  If I leave a bowlful of pellets, she won't stop eating them *sigh*.  She's just ravenous now, so I'll gradually increase the pellets.  Still offering her oatmeal with Laxatone, though she doesn't eat as much of it now.  Still offering her brussels sprouts and apples (skin on, with core and seeds).  She won't touch yogurt, and if I mix it with the oatmeal, she won't eat that either, even the strawberry yogurt.
I'm just so happy not to have lost another chicken.  It's been a horrible winter thus far for my flock.  (I went from 11 to 8 in a month due to hawks.)  I suspect she'll be inside most of the rest of the winter, however.  She needs meat on her bones, and she started losing feathers yesterday (that's a seperate post).
On a side note, the day after she started the antibiotics, I found my formerly sour cropped hen, Violet, had had her shoulder ripped open from a hawk attack.  Dr. Flinkstrom said I could start her on the Erythromycin, as well, and she finished her 10 days on 12/31.  No sign of infection on her shoulder, and she'll also be inside healing for a while. 
*sigh*
Hubby says, "When you said you wanted chickens, you didn't say you wanted them inside the house!" smile  He's been awesome throughout the ordeal.

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