Hen has been drinking a lot of water, crop is full of liquid in the mornings, should I worry?


8 Years
Apr 16, 2011
El Monte
This EE hen is about 6 years old. She's always had rather runny poop since she was a chick, and lately I've noticed she's been drinking a lot, and I mean a lot, of water when I let them out early in the morning. This morning when I opened the coop I noticed her crop was really full of water, when it should've normally be empty. It's been about 6 hours and it has deflated a bit, but it swings when she runs. She seems to have lost some weight, but she's still very active, eating well, and even laying. I've been massaging her crop gently to see if that helps, and I haven't noticed any sour smell from her beak.

Is this normal behavior, should I worry about it becoming something more serious?
It looks to me like a partial block of her crop; probably your hen ate some sort of fiber (grass, hay, or something else long and thin) that coiled into her crop and is now keeping the food from fully passing through to the stomach. I suspect something similar in one of my own hens, but at the same time her crop also seems to swing on top of looking unusually big at dusk, so I'm thinking she might have developed a pendulous crop from partial food blockage in said crop. My hen's been drinking alot of water and having watery poop ever since I've had her mid-december.

Form what I've gleaned on the subject, isolating your hen with no food, just water, for a day, helps her crop digest the excess food. Adding a bit of food mixed with alot of grit the second day helps crunch the food even more. Massing her crop 3-4 times a day also helps. Giving her oil does the same, though dosage is needed. Lastly, if you hen is suffering from a pendulous crop, which is damage to the muscle that supports the crop, the best thing to help your hen digest well again on top of grit in her food, is to give her a crop bra - attach a makeshift or cuztomised bra under her crop so it can raise the sack and stop it from hanging and trapping food inside it. Stopping the crop from hanging like a pendulum should help food pass more easily into the stomach. (link here for more info on the pendulous crop: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/huge-pendulous-crop-video.1229417/)

To cover more ends, you might want to check for parasites in a fecal (float?) test. There are some who give the hen a slow crop, and one particular parasite can even inhabit it (I think it's called the crop parasite?) and cause mayhem in there. Getting a fecal test done will tell you whether it's parasites, bacteria or something more, like a possible blockage of the crop caused by a tangled net of fibers in there. Do the nest boxes of your hens have hay? That can be one (if not the) cause of your hen's crop problem if she's someone who likes eating long blades of grass during summetime. Mine has been doing it since day one, so I have a strong reason to suspect she's landed herself in trouble with the hay from her nestbox. I've changed the hay for wood chips last week, just to be safe.
I use pine shavings for nesting. I'll keep her isolated tomorrow with only water and see if that helps deflate her crop. It feels kinda mushy (weird word to describe it) and I massaged it about 2 times today. if it's still big tomorrow morning I'll make her a bra. Can the crop heal and regain its shape eventually?
I don't think the pendulous crop can regain its proper shape. People don't seem to think it does; apparently if the muscle is damaged, then it stays damaged for life. Scientists are baffled over the case and their researches have not yielded any proper conclusive results, so they suspect bad genetics and crop blockage to be the main causes, even though they have nothing truly concrete to settle the matter. For the pendulous crop, a bra is then necessary for the rest of the hen's life to help her digest fine again, since it holds the crop up where the muscle inside the chicken can no longer do it on its own. Mind you, if your chicken has a blocked crop, it would be wise to seek advice on how to unblock it naturally, and if nothing works, veterinary surgery to help remove whatever is stuck inside her crop so she can recover better.
I made a makeshift support to press on her crop a bit and I'm keeping her in a cage for 24 hours with no food or water (I'll let her drink some water in the afternoon) to see how much it will empty. the "bra" kinda broke her brain right now xD.

I just got a new job and it sucks that I have to deal with this plus two hens that have wanted to kill each other for over a week now. they aren't broody anymore, but one has decided she hates the other despite being together for years now, ugh.
Leaving the hen without water is a bad idea. The lack of fluids in her crop means the food in it won't soften up for easier passing into the stomach, plus the hen will weaken for nothing. Isolation without food is alright when a crop problem arises, but the hen needs water in order for her blockage to soften enough over time to leave the crop at long last.

The life and wooes of chickens, my friend. I feel you on this one, as many times even I don't get why feathers are flying everywhere in my coop. It must be the lady hormones, hens don't get periods but they certainly go through enough mood swings to emulate a woman at the peak of her pregnancy. How my rooster manages to keep up with all of his ladies is something I'd very much like to know xD
Thank you for the reply :D. I leave for work really early so I'll ask my brother-in-law to let her out to drink water at around 8 or 9am, but not let her eat anything until I get home at 2pm. right now i have her in the crate because she was trashing around due to the crop "bra" I put on her, and i didn't want to leave her unsupervised, and to also avoid her getting bullied by the other chickens until she gets used to it.

I've had these chickens since 2011, and while I love them, my life and work have changed in the last couple of years, so I'm not planning on getting more. I just want to make sure their senior years are as comfortable as possible.

Edit: welp, Dumb hen managed to take off the bra I made for her somehow, so time to see id I can find one online.
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