2 Year Old Hen with Cancer and Sour Crop


Dec 18, 2020
My 2 year old sapphire gem hen, Goosey, has had many problems this year. In April, we were told by a vet, after removing quite a large amount of ascites fluid from her abdomen, that she most likely has cancer, as well as a broken chest bone that we didn't even notice and have no idea when it happened. The cancer has only seemed more and more likely as the ascites would build back up and need to be drained nearly every month - 'til August - where the fluid had not yet come back, but instead she developed doughy crop. This was easily treated with a cinnamon, lemon juice, ginger, and cayenne mixture, but the ascites then came back in September and drained again. The doughy crop would come and be treated again in October, the ascites built up again in November BUT.. somehow went away on its own.

Now, December.. she seemed to have doughy crop a few days ago, so I treated it with the same mixture, but unfortunately it seemed to just get worse.
I suspect it's sour crop, I've tried ACV water, garlic water, yogurt for the past 3 days... it's not going down. She is isolated, I have her in my room so she's not out in the cold and snow, I try to massage her crop whenever I can but it doesn't seem to do anything, though I can hear and smell the gas. She is still pooping, but it's been a consistent black liquid with some white and sometimes clear. As the liquid from her crop was already pouring out of her beak on its own I have been tilting her to get it out whenever it's too full. She is still drinking very much, eating a little.. She has stumbled a few times when walking and I needed to put her on the stick tonight as she fell down trying to do it herself. My plan for tomorrow, if the crop does not drain on its own overnight, is to drain her again, give her more yogurt, more ACV, and offer some oyster shell. Please note I have not forced her to eat or drink anything, she is doing it on her own.

She is definitely trying to get it down, I've seen her doing that quick swinging motion with her neck many times today, but, again... it's just not going down. I'm not sure what else I can do, which is why I'm here. I've read that this can be a sign of organ failure, and if it is I need to know if there's anything, ANYTHING I can try before putting her to sleep. She is still full of energy, most of the time she seems very tired and lethargic, but when I offer her food she likes or accidentally startle her, she SPRINGS to life. She is a fighter, and I won't let her die after all of this unless I know for sure it's for the best. I'm grateful for any advice and information. Thank you.
Welcome to BYC. I'm sorry to hear that Goosey has a lot of serious health problems all of which are detrimental to her health and welfare.
You might want to consider the pain and suffering that she goes through on a daily basis. It would be in your best interest, and Goosey, to humanely put her down.
I am very sorry you’re going through this. 2 years old is too young, I understand you wanting to help her live longer.
I do agree with the above poster; it may be time to put her down. You’ll never really know how much pain she is in bc chickens instinctually hide their pain in order to stay safe (well chickens are not nice to sick chickens, and a sick chicken is highly susceptible to predation). As far as the springing to life when startled, this too is instinct due to the high predation of this species.
If it’s gotten to the point where she can’t keep food down and it’s spilling out of the crop, she is slowly going to starve to death. The treatment for sour or impacted crop can be long and tedious and may not work with the underlying health issues. It is probably in her best interest to humanely put her down.
Again, I am very sorry about this. But keep in mind - even in her 2 short years, she never had to experience the horror of being a battery / factory chicken. Even 2 years in the paradise we create for our babies is way better than the 5 or 6 years in those hell holes. You are a good chicken mom and a good person and your chicken won the life lottery living with you, living the life that most chickens around the world can only “dream” of.
This morning her crop has finally started emptying on its own. She's constantly drinking and emptying it naturally. There was one instance where the brown liquid poured out of her beak as she was drinking, though, so I'm watching her and continuing to give her ACV and yogurt.

Thank you again for reading and sharing your thoughts, I understand where you're coming from, however, like I said before she is a fighter. Goosey, even with her underlying conditions, is the strongest in her run, bullying her sisters just for getting too much attention. She's looking better now, and I think it would be best to keep treating this until she is back to her normal Goosey self. Of course, if it turns for the worst and I can see she's definitely not bouncing back from this, I'll take this advice into consideration.
I'm in agreement with the other posters here. When a bird develops ascites, it is a strong sign that it will be a progression to the end, they don't get better. They are extremely good at hiding symptoms, so if they are acting ill, then generally they are very ill. It is a unhappy decision that all of us have to make at some point. When quality of life is poor with no real chance of getting better, then it's time to consider not letting them suffer. It's a personal decision that is often difficult to make, but in most cases it's truly a kindness. I'm very sorry your bird is so sick and that you are faced with that decision. :hugs

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