In my first batch of chicks I purchased at the local feed store I picked up an adorable fuzzy faced puffy cheeked Easter Egger who I named Eleanor after the smallest chubby Chipette from the Chipmunks cartoon. She quickly became my favorite chick due to her willingness to be held and her cheeks of course.
From early on I could tell she was going to be the leader. She just had a look about her, the way she carried herself and how all the other chicks would go to her for comfort and protection. This quickly earned her the nickname Big Mama.
Things started out pretty normal for Eleanor. She was healthy and happy.
Around 2 1/2 months she had her first issue with sour crop. I noticed her chest was puffed up and felt squishy like a water balloon. I did a lot of research and proceeded to quarantine her and force her to vomit until she was totally cleared out and after about a week she was back with her friends. You can read about my trial and error in treating her the first time here, https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/803948/first-time-owner-dealing-with-sour-crop
This is when I started to realize her issue was likely a pendulous crop. After her first time with sour crop she never quite went back to normal and her crop always hung low.
Her crop seemed to stay in check for several months after that first time.
Around 6 months she started to lay beautiful cream colored eggs every 4-5 days. This lasted for about a month.
(Ely's is on the left)
Then the pendulous crop started giving her trouble again.
Then the laying stopped.
For the past 4 months I've been forced to make her vomit, change her diet, confine her to the run, quarantine her... and totally stress her out in the process. It got to the point where I thought I was either going to have to keep her in the run permanently on a diet of crumbles and water or cull her and I wasn't willing to do that without trying every possible option first.
The final option was a crop bra. I had heard of them mentioned briefly in reading up on pendulous crop. I decided to try to make one myself though I know you can find them online for purchase. I had some left over denim and some elastic and spent a day measuring and having chicken dress up sessions trying to figure out a way it would stay on her and be supportive but not too tight.
The basic design looked something like this.
The red lines are where the elastic is attached. The elastic is 2 straps that criss cross in the back. Velcro could probably be used for an easier way to put it on and off I was just concerned with it falling off so I carefully pull the elastic over her wings. The thin part of the bib goes between her legs and then the elastic on the bottom goes behind her thighs and criss crosses in the middle of her back.
It stays on snugly and securely.
I leave her in it day and night and check her crop and the elastic to make sure she's not being irritated by it. Since wearing it she has had no sour crop issues. She is full at bed time and cleared out in the morning. She didn't like to wear it the first couple days and she walked backwards for a couple hours trying to get away from it, but now I never see her bother with it. She's able to move, run and jump in it just fine.
After a few weeks of her wearing the crop bra her body rebooted itself and she laid for me once again.
An update as of 3/14/14
Eleanor and I are thrilled that she made it to the front page of BYC. Her puffy cheeks are blushing... but you can't tell. As for her health, she is doing amazing. We haven't had a single issue with sour crop since the bib/bra went on. She has continued to lay about 4-5 eggs a week and has some of the largest eggs of all 4 birds. I have made some slight alterations to the bra design. I made it a bit wider and added some darts on the sides giving it a slight cup shape to allow a more comfortable fit.
Here's a little video of all the ladies getting some treats and having fun. You can see Ely gets around just fine in her little "overalls" as we call them here at home. Since she wears it all the time her feathers work their way over the top of it so it looks like it sits a lot lower on her chest than it actually does.