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Impacted Crop Symptoms??

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

I have a seven week-old Brown Leghorn with the following attributes/symptoms:


*  skinny--she's much smaller than my RIR, Black Star and Golden Comet, although the same age

*  has a "bony" chest--I thought this was just her breed, but now after reading more think it might be bound or impacted crop

*  has been "convulsing" like she has hiccups or needs to vomit (mainly at night, I don't see this during the day)


They've been outside the past two weeks eating bugs, worms, and grasses from the yard and garden, but I have been feeding them their chick starter as well.  I added grit a few weeks back, but they don't seem to eat it.


I'm worried that I may have put this little one in danger, by not doing something sooner!  I noticed it the other night, but while she was readjusting her feet underneath her--and I honestly thought it was just her bony-ness. 


Per other posts, it seems other symptoms are inability to defecate, minimal feeding and isolationism. 


She defecates just fine--normal, solid poo and she eats with the rest, albeit not as much.  She's not a total loner, she sometimes does her own thing, but just as often she's running around with her Black Star buddy.


Some of the symptoms/behaviors seem to implicate an impacted crop, but not all. 


What can I do--just in case she has it?? 


I read on another post olive oil soaked bread?  Can I give this to all of them?  I don't feel I need to separate her from the rest as her "best friend" cries incessantly until they're side by side. 


In regards to food.  I've been giving them feed in their cage and sprinkling some in the garden.  Although one area where I spread feed in the garden is the same area that gets wet from watering over-spray.  Could it be food that is/was wet and spoiled???


I'd love some advice!  I had chickens growing up and either 1) they never had these problems or 2) they did and survived them.  Maybe it's the mom in me coming out, but these are my little babies and I feel wholly responsible for their little lives and well-being!


Thank you in advance!

post #2 of 24

Is her crop swollen? If you think she might have impacted crop you need to isolate her and stop feeding her to make sure. A chicken stuffs their crop all day and then digests the food slowly and should start the morning with an empty crop. If her crop is swollen in the morning or is still swollen after you have stopped feeling her then it is likely impacted. If you open her mouth and it smells nasty in there then it has gone sour.


If her crop is impacted then make her scrambled eggs with olive oil and do not feed her anything solid. You can try massaging her crop down toward her tummy to try to help her pass the blockage. If that does not work you can try to make her throw up but you need to be very very careful about it because you do not want to get liquid in her lungs. If neither of those things work their are vet surgery or home surgery options that you are welcome to ask me about if you get that point. There is a good thread on here somewhere about it.


If her crop is not swollen but she keeps losing weight perhaps a parasite? 

post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 

I guess I'm confused about whether or not her crop is swollen.  I've seen pics of other Leghorn pullets and they have a more pronounced breast bone.  It doesn't feel dense, but rather . . .well, bony.  I'd hate to "massage" it and hurt her little breast bone.  I guess a massage wouldn't be bad even if unnecessary right?


Her breastbone/crop swollen or not, always appears the same size--morning, noon and night.  So again, I feel silly to admit I don't know if it's swollen.  I don't have another one of her breed to compare her to.  The only real oddity is her jerky movements.  Poor little sweetheart.  She has such a sweet disposition.     


Also, how do you smell their breath/beaks?  She's so squirmy I can barely hold her still, let alone open her beak.  I mean, I'll try, they are sleeping now so, I'll wait until they wake again.


I'm home tomorrow, so can separate and watch her, although I know her little friend will pace waiting for her!  Sorry neighbors--little Char-Star has got pipes!  ;-)


IF however, the above alleviates nothing and it is parasites what can we do then?  What are the symptoms of parasites?  Thank you ChickensRDinos!

post #4 of 24

You do not need another breed to compare crops with. First thing in the morning, before anybody eats anything, go around and with the bird facing away from you, rub your hand down the right side of the bird's chest. Check everybody's crop to see what they feel like. The crop is located to the right of the breast bone. You can do the same thing to the left side for comparison. First thing in the morning, you should not feel any fullness or lumps. Again, compare the right side to the left side by feeling it. The bird's crop area should feel smooth.


If it is hard, it is impacted. If it is soft, it is either soured or on it's way to being soured. Free ranging on grass can cause impacted crops and soured crops. Grass is long and winds around and around to make a big ball. It then becomes hard to break down.


If this bird has a hard lump, I suggest you follow the advice of ChickensRDinos and do the oil thing, No other food for 24 hours, or until the impaction moves.  IF this lump is soft and squishy, then I would suggest only damp layer feed for several days. NO free ranging or any hard foods. Layer feed only. If the bird becomes uncomfortable with a lot of liquid in the crop, it will need to come out of there. It is toxic. She will need to be vomited.


Hold her like a football in one arm, and with the other hand, hold her at the crop. Lean yourself down, leaning the bird forward ONLY, beak straight down and massage the crop. The gunk should come out. ONLY hold her like this for 5 to 7 seconds so she can breathe and tilt her back up. If you get something to come out, give the bird a 15 sec break and do it again. If nothing comes up, then you can stop. You may need to do this again later in the day, but only if the crop fills full and gushy.


You can not judge a crop during the day, unless you know how that bird eats. Some birds do stuff themselves during the day and the crop seems huge. The crop should empty after about 4 hours of not eating. So morning is the only time you can truly tell if the birds GI system is working properly.

Keep one eye on the past, one eye on the future and both eyes on the present. ~ a Raven ~
Keep one eye on the past, one eye on the future and both eyes on the present. ~ a Raven ~
post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much twocrowsranch! This is just the detailed answer I needed! I'll check this out right now.
post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 
Update on our girl.

Friday AM I was still having a hard time feeling the crop, as they all felt the same ( which I now know is an 'empty' feeling). I put them all in their pen and checked in on her a few hours later, to feel a large mass in her crop. ( I was like, okay this is what people are talking about). It felt like a hacky sac ( dating myself here) or a little bean bag, but also like grass bits. We have horendous crab grass which all my girls love to eat. My bf and I tried massaging and giving her water with probiotic which resulted in a really swollen crop. It looked like a goiter, and I got worried that we were hurting her. She dropped several dry poops, about six within 35 min, so we figured movement was good.
I seperated her from the pen, since she'd stll have access to the grass and put her in a smaller cage with her little buddy (she came to check on her and kept company). Hours later and five or so more droppings her crop had shrunk. Not totally gone, but considerably smaller. So I thought, she's good. This is over. But today, sure enough after a few hours, totally full crop. I again massaged, gave her water, albeit less this time and isolated her from all food. Crop went down. Again.
So . . My question is, this appears to be her MO. She's active, but skinny. She did start doing the jerk again though today, and thus the quarentine. She seems fine- she's active, she poops regularly (although she could stand to drink a little more) but the jerking and attempt to dislodge something cannot be a good thing can it? Are there some girls that are just more suseptable? I don't know if I can always seperate her. The four are so close, that although they were free ranging, I spied the other three sleeping next to her cage a couple times today. Very suportive little family I have. But feel it unfair to subject them to boring diets when they can handle the foraging. What I trying to say is that I'm not really set up to have two 'cages'. I leave them in their pen while I'm at work and let them play a bit by free ranging each night before going to bed. They love their garden time by the sound of their cheerful squeeks.

Should I not allow this little one to participate in free range?

In regards to vomiting, I have read several posts, watched some videos and still feel aprehensive about trying such. I just cannot without totally knowing what I'm doing or what to look for.
I'd just like to know if I should try the olive oil down the throat and specail diet or just let it fill up each day, go down, etc.
Thank you again for all your wisdom! It's nerve racking for me not see people do some of these techniques.
post #7 of 24

It is normal for a chickens crop to fill up, that is it's function. With impacted crop, something (likely tangled up grass) is blocking the passage so food can not leave the crop. This causes the crop to get bigger and bigger because the chicken is eating but nothing is passing. Over several days of this the chicken will start to starve and the contents of the crop will start to rot and become toxic - people usual call this sour crop.


When my chicken got it her crop was three times the size of the other birds and felt very different. When I isolated her it never went down even when I stopped feeding her because nothing could get through.


If your chicken's crop is emptying and feels the same as the other birds and she is pooping normally it does not sound like impacted or sour crop.


I do not know what it could be. But if she has a parasite or a disease like Mericks then it is possible that it is very highly contagious. Until you know what you are dealing with it may be best to keep her isolated to try to protect your other birds. I would look in the forums for weight loss and jerking or post a new thread with her symptoms in the subject so that people who are familiar might see it. One of the first questions people usually ask if what color her crop is. Good luck.

post #8 of 24

If a crop is empty in the morning, each and every morning, then there is nothing to worry about. As said above, a crop is supposed to fill up during the day. That is why I suggested to only check it the mornings. A properly working crop will empty after about 4 hours after NOT eating. The crop is a storage tank for food waiting to be processed thru the system. When a chicken eats rough forage, seeds and other hard foods, they need to be ground down by the gizzard with the tiny stones they eat. While this is taking place, if there is food in the crop, or the bird continues to eat, the food will sit in the crop until things start to move thru the GI tract after the gizzard is done grinding down food. This is why it is important to keep the crop with a low ph, to keep bacteria from growing while it is waiting in the crop.


Grass is tough to break down. I have a girl that is not allowed to free range what so ever. She, for some reason, just can not work all that stuff thru her system fast enough and she comes down with sour crop continuously. Some birds are prone to this. I don't know why. My girl had a sour crop 6 times during her first year of life until I figured this out. As long as she stays in the chicken yard and eats only layer feed and easy to digest treats, her crop health is good. Keep an eye on your bird for future issues and check her crop each and every morning for any issues.


Also, some birds stuff themselves. If your girl is thin and seems ravenous, then she is going to stuff herself. So you may feel a large crop during the day. Generally a healthy chicken does not have a full crop during the day and when I say full crop, I mean a baseball sized one. You will always feel something in a crop after a bird eats something. 


At seven weeks old, they can be thin. I have birds of all different sizes, some are plump and others are thin. As long as they are looking well, physically active, bright eyed, eating well, then this is what to expect. If you start to see funky symptoms of illness, then it is time to take action.

Edited by TwoCrows - 8/26/12 at 8:22am
Keep one eye on the past, one eye on the future and both eyes on the present. ~ a Raven ~
Keep one eye on the past, one eye on the future and both eyes on the present. ~ a Raven ~
post #9 of 24

How's your girl doing? I have Danish Brown Leghorns and they are naturally slight of build. Mines were th smallest full-sized chicks I had and are still pretty thin at 18 weeks. They are more birdlike and less Chicken-like in shape, also great flyers. Fron the discussion, I don't think it's a crop issue, what else can you tell us about her that might be tied to the convulsing/hiccuping behavior? That sounds odd.

Let's see....Ameracaunas/EEs, Astralorps, Barnevelders, Blue Andalusian, BSLs / GSLs, Brahmas, Cochins, Cornish Crosses, Crevecour, Delawares, Houdan, Leghorns, Minorcas, Nankins, OEG, Peafowl (India Blue), Plymouth Rocks—Barred & Partridge, Polish, RIR, Salmon Faverolles, Sultans, Orpingtons, Wyandottes, Welsummer
Let's see....Ameracaunas/EEs, Astralorps, Barnevelders, Blue Andalusian, BSLs / GSLs, Brahmas, Cochins, Cornish Crosses, Crevecour, Delawares, Houdan, Leghorns, Minorcas, Nankins, OEG, Peafowl (India Blue), Plymouth Rocks—Barred & Partridge, Polish, RIR, Salmon Faverolles, Sultans, Orpingtons, Wyandottes, Welsummer
post #10 of 24

Just talked with local vet as i too am battling sour/impacted crop and she suggested mineral oil at a rate of 2tablespoons this she said is better than olive/veg oil because the latter gets absorbed in the system as the mineral doesnt lubricating instead of being absorbed helping pass the blockage if any ive tried many of the suggestions here unfortanatly none has worked so far for me hope she gets better for ya just some added info in case someones wondering you can buy mineral oil at most large grocery or walgreens/pharmacy type places in small pint size good luck!!

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