How big is a chickens crop normally?

Discussion in 'Pictures & Stories of My Chickens' started by scubagirlwonder, Oct 17, 2011.

  1. scubagirlwonder

    scubagirlwonder Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 19, 2011
    Sammamish, WA
    Hi all!
    A few days ago I posted a thread about my chicken Petunia and this funny head-bobbing thing she does. Many of you said to check her crop; that it looks like something a chicken does when she's trying to move stuff through her crop/ or that she might be trying to "grind" food in her crop. I had thought it was just a silly behavioral thing (since she's always been a bit of a peculiar girl), and not something related to a physical you all got me wondering.
    So I just went out and grabbed her and felt/massaged her crop. The problem is...I don't know what it's supposed to feel like, so I really have no basis for comparison!
    Here's what I felt:
    1) a crop about the size of a racquetball (smaller than a tennis ball, bigger than a golf ball),
    2) it was semi-firm, but pliable (it didn't feel hard in any way, just felt like a toned muscle rather than a floppy, squishy sac),
    3) Petunia didn't fight me or appear in any discomfort as I did it,
    4) I could not feel any lumps or hard objects,
    5) Nothing "came up" as I was massaging (no fluids or solid pieces),
    6) I gently opened her mouth and did not smell anything sour or malodorous (had read about "sour crop" in my research).

    So, my questions are:
    What's the normal size of an empty crop?
    What is the average size of a crop when the chicken has been doing her "normal" thing (since I checked her crop in the middle of the afternoon)? (I'll check it again first thing in the morning...)
    What should a normal crop feel like?

    Is all this worrying for nothing? She's acting pretty normal, other than she hasn't been laying any eggs for a bit and the silly head thing she's doing. She seems to be eating adequately (she's not skinny/hasn't lost any weight that I can tell) She is active; loves her dust baths, she's not lethargic, her feathers look shiny and nice, eyes are clear and alert and she's not being picked on by anybody...what do you think?
  2. Fenika

    Fenika Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 25, 2010
    An empty crop should in fact be empty (aside from a few grains perhaps, that you feel as you gently and slowly rub the crop 'flaps' across each other.

    If she had just stuffed herself before you came, it might have been full of normal feed, and she may not have crop stasis. The crop should not be ball sized all day (unless the bird just happens to stuff themselves minutes before you check, every time, which is unlikely). But racquetball sounds pretty normal if she'd just stuffed herself. The crop should definitely be empty first thing in the morning.

    Are you certain she hasn't lost weight- that is, have you held her up and examined her keel? Depending on what breed she is (and age) her muscles should be even with her keel bone (or bulging past). She should not have a 'razor keel' or muscles that come away steeply from the base of the keel. There are pictures of this online, and probably on some ag extension site. Try googling chicken body condition score.
  3. scubagirlwonder

    scubagirlwonder Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 19, 2011
    Sammamish, WA
    Quote:Thanks for the reply, when I was holding her a little bit ago her musculature felt good. In other words I didn't feel any protrusion of her keel bone, I didn't feel any ribs and her breast was "ample." I looked up the body condition score as you suggested and she definitely falls into the moderately to well developed range, so that's a good thing....
    As far as her crop, I couldn't feel anything in her crop....that's what has me so confused, what should the crop feel like? I appreciate your description of the "flaps" because I definitely felt two parts that I rubbed together (I would describe what I felt as two muscular flaps that are sort of shaped like a lime cut in half vertically, but not hard like a lime.) I was wondering if I didn't feel anything simply because the food was softened up as a basic part of her digestive process, or if her crop was empty...If it was empty what should it have felt like? I assume it has to be pretty muscular to aid in the grinding/digestive process (unless that's only done in the gizzard...), but it seems awfully big if it was empty.

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