How to treat sour crop and impacted crop and how to know which one you're dealing with

By azygous · Feb 14, 2018 · ·
  1. azygous
    Diagnosing the crop disorder
    A hen is behaving lethargically, not eating much, if at all, but she has a full crop. This is the first sign something's not right. The full crop points to this hen having crop issues and not being sick for some other reason such as a bacterial infection, which would result in loss of appetite and empty crop.

    Before you treat for a crop issue, though, you need to verify that your hen or roo actually has a crop issue and whether it's sour crop or impacted crop or both. So you need to monitor the crop overnight, checking the condition before bedtime, and first thing in the morning before your patient eats anything.

    Sour crop
    A crop that is still full in the morning has issues. So, is the issue sour crop? If the crop feels squishy and full of liquid, it's likely sour crop. If there's an odor coming from the head of the chicken that smell similar to sauerkraut, then you are probably dealing with sour crop. The cause is a yeast called Candida albicans.

    Impacted crop
    If the crop is extremely full and hard, or perhaps lumpy, and maybe feels like it's full of fibrous material, you are probably looking at impacted crop. If the chicken has been drinking lots of water, yet not eating anything, this is further indication of impacted crop.

    Impacted crop/sour crop
    If the crop is full and hard and lumpy and the chicken has been drinking lots of water and it smells like sauerkraut, you likely have an impacted crop that has developed a yeast infection. You will be treating the impacted crop first, followed by treatment for the yeast infection.

    Treatment for impacted crop
    I use coconut oil for the ease in administering it. When chilled, it is solid and easy to break into small chunks and slip into the beak of the patient without creating a huge mess or getting oil into the airway. You want to measure two teaspoons for an adult chicken and one teaspoon for a baby chick.

    After getting the oil into the patient, you want to massage the crop gently in a circular and slightly upward motion. This will direct the contents toward the crop "drain". Massage for five to ten minutes. If the crop refuses to empty, repeat the oil and massage again in 30 minutes. If the crop still refuses to empty, then give a stool softener such as Dulcolax (docusate sodium). Wait 30 minutes and massage the crop. The crop should empty. Add more oil if it doesn't and massage again. This should do it.

    Treatment for sour crop
    I advise against trying to make your chicken vomit because it may cause them to aspirate the sour liquid. Besides, it's very unpleasant for your hen, and she may hate you if you do it. (Curiously, most sour crop victims are hens.)

    Nystatin is the best treatment for yeast infections, but it requires a prescription. Or you can try to locate medistatin which is for birds and doesn't require a prescription.

    The easiest (and cheapest) to obtain yeast treatment, though, is miconazole, found on the women's hygiene shelf in the pharmacy. You can use either the suppositories or the vaginal cream. Measure a quarter inch of suppository or about half an inch of cream and give orally twice a day for seven days. Do not stop treatment before the full seven days are completed or the yeast may return.

    Following treatment for sour crop, offer plenty of plain fresh water and boiled egg to get the crop operating again. I like to also give a probiotic or Greek yogurt to restore good microbes in crop and intestines.

    Pendulous crop
    If you have treated for these crop issues and the crop still refuses to empty by morning, the hen may have a condition called pendulous crop. This is caused by poor muscle tone that causes the crop to sag and the contents are below the crop "drain" so the crop doesn't fully empty. The solution is a crop bra.

    You can buy these or easily create one yourself by gluing or sewing a four inch square piece of sturdy cloth to two twelve-inch long strips of elastic bandage such as Vet wrap. P1010013.JPG P1010011.JPG

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Recent User Reviews

  1. Stardustrose
    "Very good article"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Sep 26, 2018
    Thank you for sharing this. I read some people make the chicken vomit, so glad I found this article.
    Cryss and Wyorp Rock like this.
  2. aprilbos
    "Well written and easy to follow advice - thanks!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Sep 6, 2018
    Wyorp Rock, Feathers Brady and Cryss like this.
  3. Feathers Brady
    "Great information!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Aug 3, 2018
    I've read articles for weeks and nothing simplified this crop issue I'm having with my hen until now!! Thank you!
    Shes quarentined until tommorow and I'll know soon if she needs a bra or just yeast treatment.
    Wyorp Rock and Cryss like this.


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  1. birdlegs7075
    Nice article but which "monistat" are you referring to with your doseage? There are 3 versions: Monistat 1, Monistat 3, Monistat 7, all with a different strength.
    1. azygous
      The seven-day treatment. I use generic micanazole 7.
      birdlegs7075 likes this.
  2. micstrachan
    Great article... thorough and easy to follow. Thank you!
      Wyorp Rock likes this.
  3. texsuze
    I used a crop "bib" (prefer this term to 'bra') on Bertha, my Ameracauna hen with crop stasis/pendulous crop this spring, with excellent results. She was first seen by a vet for evaluation and necessary medication. The key is to keep the bib on and monitor carefully during several days. This is a long process. Poop appearance and quantity will give an indication as to how things are going. Bertha has been "bib-free" for over a month and doing great. But I will continue to be watchful from now on.
    1. Cryss
      I left the "bib" off Roopecca one time and he started exhibiting sour crop symptoms again. I'm afraid to ever remove it other than to change to a new or clean one. I'm tempted to try again but hate to think about starting more dosing.
  4. adrikeen
    Thank goodness for this article! I came home from work today and found a hen with impacted crop. This article was on the home page and a life saver (probably literally at this point). Thanks so much!
      Cryss and azygous like this.
  5. azygous
    Just this week I discovered a great way to administer Medistatin powder. At first I mixed it with peanut butter, but the dose is half a teaspoon and it required too much peanut butter.

    Then I got the idea of mixing the dose with just enough warmed coconut oil to moisten the powder, then let harden. I used the coconut oil that doesn't have the flavor refined out of it. Then I break it into pea size bits and the patient gobbles it up when she discovers it tastes good.
    1. Cryss
      Love this idea! Wait, a teaspoon for one dose? How many doses? Same parameters? I saw different strength suppositories so are there different strength powders?
    2. azygous
      Medistatin is Nystatin, a form you can buy without a prescription. Nystatin is an antifungal but it's different that miconazole, so different dosage. It's a half teaspoon per day.
    3. Cryss
      I use the ladies medication miconazole and found if I use the cream in the tube i just mix it into a small (half of a single serving?) amount of scratch type treats I can hold the dish up to him so no one else can get it and he will gobble it down. Twice a day and he has his personal full serving of treats.
  6. Jamie Molihan
    Oh my gosh thankyou for this post, I was sure my girl was going to have to be culled because of this.
      KikisGirls likes this.
    How do I actually get my chicken to eat the baginal cream?
    1. Cryss
      I actually froze it SLIGHTLY just to make a pill out of it, not to make it a nice cube. I tucked Roopecca under me arm, opened his beak (yeah they fuss) and dropped it in back of his tongue. If need behave someone hold your bird so you can manage the beak. I much prefer the suppositories than the cream. I cut them into quarters like pills. But you need to use cream for the last few doses cuz that's how it comes in the box.
  8. CCUK
    Great information here. I have a sick hen with maybe pendulous and/sour crop. It's good to be able to precisely tell the difference and how to treat. A+ from me!
      BarredRockMom likes this.
  9. iosRANDALL
    Very good article!
    As I mentioned, Lacy’s yesterday evening crop wad was the same as this morning’s crop wad- about the size of a walnut, firm and somewhat lumpy. I was able to massage and empty it this morning after getting about a teaspoon of coconut oil in her. It took about 2 or 3 minutes of massaging to break it up and clear it. That was after it had sat in her crop all night. I didn’t notice any peculiar odor in the process, but I didn’t think to put my nose by her beak to try and smell it then. Will try and do that now as I’m heading out to make sure everyone is tucked in.
    My gut feeling is a partial blockage in her gizzard maybe? Probably due to ingesting straw and/or sunflower shells without available grit to grind that stuff up. I say partial blockage rather than full because she still poops a bit.
  10. Cryss
    I think I read this back when I first got my flock in November but it didn't make sense to me then because I had no experience for anything. Now this article makes perfect sense to me. I'm always so thankful for all the sharing of knowledge here.
      Wyorp Rock and azygous like this.
  11. Wyorp Rock
    Well Done! Very helpful, thank you for the wonderful article!
      KikisGirls and azygous like this.

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