Help with Diagnosis? Should I worry about the rest of the flock?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Windwillow, Oct 16, 2012.

  1. Windwillow

    Windwillow New Egg

    Oct 16, 2012
    I have a small flock of backyard chickens. Four old hens, one old rooster, and eleven pullets I got in the spring and who are just starting to lay. The two groups have been together for a couple of months now and no major problems to report. The young girls have been coming into their own in the last three weeks or so. We are up to 3 -4 "baby" eggs per day from the girls. Everyone is healthy and happy. One of the girls, a Speckled Sussex with lots of white on her head, has been nicknamed "Granny" for a while. She was developing just like everyone else until a month to six weeks ago. We noticed that as the other girls developed their combs and wattles, Granny did not. She had a very, very small comb which was a pale pink -- not a nice bright red like the other girls. However, she seemed healthy and happy, eager to eat treats, so we assumed she was just a little slower to mature. A couple of weeks ago, we noticed that her chest seemed swollen and lopsided. After some investigation, I figured it was just a really full crop. Some of the other girls look a bit like this sometimes, although Granny's breast seemed very soft and floppy all the time. I still didn't worry too much after looking at pictures of chickens with distended crops. Last week or so, Granny started to seem off. She seemed to be shrinking as the others were growing. Even though she was eating, she was skinny except for her big floppy breast. Still no wattles and just the tiny comb. Last two days, she was still interested in eating, but staying away from the other chickens -- picking for bugs under the coop rather than coming out for scratch, etc. Today, she looked much worse and the other girls were starting to peck at her head and draw blood. My husband decided that he had to put her down. When he picked her up and turned her upside down, a viscous brownish or tea-colored fluid poured out of her mouth. He decapitated her and the brown fluid continued to pour out of her. He noted that there was very little blood (much less than usual) and said the brown fluid continued to drain out of her for several moments as he held her up.

    So, Granny is gone. :( Now I am concerned about trying to figure out what happened. Everyone else still seems healthy and happy (although my husband has the blues because he had to put one of the girls down). I've read through my Chicken Health Handbook and nothing seems to fit what I am seeing. Moreover, the book talks about lab tests and autopsies, but my husband and niece already buried Granny and covered her grave with a nice stone.

    Any help would be most appreciated!
  2. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

    Nov 27, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Sounds like she had an impacted crop. There are several BYC members that have done crop surgery. Perhaps you can type "crop surgery" in the search box and read up on it if you wish.
  3. Windwillow

    Windwillow New Egg

    Oct 16, 2012
    Thanks Dawg53

    I didn't think it could be an impacted crop because it was soft and sponge-y, not hard, and the articles I read said that you only needed to worry about impaction if the crop was hard.

    Live and learn.
  4. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens
    If you click on the left column article "impacted crop - right way" you will see a picture of impacted crop contents (GRAPHIC).

    I am so sorry for your loss. I have no experience with crop problems.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012
  5. leadwolf1

    leadwolf1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 1, 2011
    With is being large and squishy, maybe you were dealing with sour crop instead. It still would cause death and nasty stuff to pour out. Either way, impacted or sour..there is no risk to your other chickens. The next time you notice a squishy crop, it is best to isolate and treat immediately.

    One of the easiest ways to tell if there is a crop problem is to make sure that the crop is emptying properly. Check the crop at night to judge fullness. Check again first thing in the morning. Is the crop emptied? If not, there could be a crop problem.

    So sorry for the loss of Granny [​IMG]
  6. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 19, 2012
    Los Angeles
    There are two different things that I hear people refer to as sour crop. One is a bacteria imbalance in the crop that causes a build up of gross. People often treat that with yogurt or even monistat - something to get the bacteria back to what they need to be and its hard to do. It really is sort like a yeast infection -ish. This will feel like liquid only and you can usually empty it through very careful vomiting and then it will build up again until properly treated.

    The second variety is caused by an impacted crop where the contents of the crop sit too long and start to rot and bloat. You can smell it in the chickens mouth. With this it will feel like spongey liquid and with a firm but gentle massage you can feel a gritty or grassy hardish mass under all that. With this you would have to find a way to remove the mass. Sometimes oil and massage will work or if it is too big then crop surgery. With this the crop will not empty at all even if you stop feeding completely. The chicken will start to starve to death because no food is passing into their system but the rotting can also kill them.

    I have done successful crop surgery and you can feel free to PM me anytime if this ever comes up again. But, sour crop or impacted crop are just individual issues, not something contagious. Perhaps give all your girls a little plain yogurt from time to time as healthy bacteria and make sure they aren't eating really long grass.

    This is my chicken standing next to everything that I pulled out of her. Her crop felt very squishy but I could feel all the grass under the liquid when I massaged. It was crazy.

    So sorry for your loss :(

    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012
  7. Windwillow

    Windwillow New Egg

    Oct 16, 2012
    Thanks everyone.

    If I ever experience anything like this again, I will have a much better idea of what to do. In the meantime, I will be adding yogurt to my chickies treats on an occasional basis just to keep thing in balance.

    Again, thanks for the advice!

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