Impacted crop ... for the second time. What to do?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by SunsetChickens, Jul 28, 2008.

  1. SunsetChickens

    SunsetChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 1, 2008
    Menlo Park, CA
    Our girl Ophelia has an impacted crop. Again.

    About a month ago, I noticed that Ophelia, one of our year-old Ameraucanas, had a classic impacted crop: Baseball-sized, felt like modeling clay, and she was moving her head side-to-side, like she was trying to swallow. We took her to the vet, and a few days later, the vet performed crop surgery, extracting a yucky mass of straw.

    Ophelia did well. Recovered beautifully. We kept her out of the pen for the next week, feeding her yogurt and cooked carrots and pellets softened in warm water and made into mash. Her crop eventually shrunk down to normal. (Lots more details on our blog, here: http://oneblockdiet.sunset.com/2008/06/crop-failure-on.html)

    She
    went back in the coop.

    Fast-forward to today. Her crop is definitely re-impacted. And she's doing the side-to-side head thing. (I felt it first thing in the morning.) We're going to get rid of every last bit of straw hanging around in their yard, that's for sure, but what do we do now?

    Is she always going to have an impacted crop? Will this just keep recurring? She's still laying, about every other day, which is normal for her, so she has to be getting some nutrition. I'm feeding her yogurt too, but I'm afraid to put oil down her throat, because I don't want to get it in her windpipe.

    I'm not sure if we want to go back to the vet — the surgery cost $300 the first time, plus a $50 office visit.

    Should I just isolate her and give her soft foods and massage the crop, in the hopes that it will empty? Or is that a lost cause at this point? I'm at the point where I'm thinking about doing the crop surgery myself.

    Also, I've recently read some vehement stuff against using straw in coops. I talked extensively to the woman at our local feed store, as well as a chicken expert who's been raising them for 20+ years, and they've always used straw to keep their coops smelling sweet and to give the birds something to scratch around in. We're going to switch to pine shavings, since we obviously have a straw-eater, but none of our other five chickens have had any problem with the straw in their yard. What's the scoop?

    Thanks, everybody. Any advice is much appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2008
  2. SunsetChickens

    SunsetChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Anybody?
     
  3. al6517

    al6517 Real Men can Cook

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    Chances are she will continue to have problems unless you keep her isolated and keep her on a special feed formula, she has a birth defect that causes this, just happens somtimes, and their could be a variety of reasons, if she is very young she may grow out of it but not likely. sorry : frying pan time for her.
     
  4. SunsetChickens

    SunsetChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Hm. Thanks, Al.

    I'm not sure she'd be delicious at this point: a year-old Amerauacana?

    I wish there was something I could do for her. I like getting her eggs. They're sky blue.
     
  5. arlee453

    arlee453 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    You could do the surgery yourself if you are up for it. There's a thread here that shows it. Ahah - found it - a sticky on the emergencies category.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=21291

    My guess is that you have a chicken with a habit of eating straw - it's just an individual habit/preference thing. Some will do it, some won't. Of those that do eat straw, some will have crop issues, some won't. I'm betting that if you remove ALL straw (or remove this hen from the straw lined coop) the 2nd time will be the charm for her.

    I have to kinda wonder why you would have even put her back in there knowing she has a penchant for eating straw?? [​IMG] At any rate, I'd make sure this girl and straw are forever separated going forward.

    Personally I would never use straw in the coop. I've seen too many stories like yours on here and heard through the grapevine of chronic crop issues in certain hens where straw is used.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2008
  6. SunsetChickens

    SunsetChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Yeah, we've been thinking about doing the surgery ourselves. Do you think it's OK that she just had her crop cut open last month? That's the sort of thing I'm hesitant about.

    Also -- the straw: Yeah, I know. We were just hoping it was a weird fluky thing that happened once, and wouldn't be an ongoing problem. Because I've talked to what seems like a zillion people who raise their chickens on straw and it's not a big deal for their chickens. Our chicken? An inveterate straw-eater. Sigh.
     
  7. al6517

    al6517 Real Men can Cook

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    You may also try to grit her quite often with a pigeon grit that is a bigger gauge stone, I use it for my turkeys, works great. the surgery idea is a good idea too should not be difficult.
     
  8. SunsetChickens

    SunsetChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    I have another question: Has anyone ever done the surgery and had it go terribly wrong? I hear pretty much only good stories about having to do it, and how scary it is, but it always seems to turn out OK.
     
  9. CarlaRiggs

    CarlaRiggs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Ah! There's the rub! [​IMG] How can we justify spending so much $$ on a chicken? [​IMG]

    As hard as it is to contemplate, I would think about giving this hen away if her crop doesn't regulate by itself. You can try the massage, oil (place a dropper by the side of her beak and she will probably ingest some), yogurt, etc. I'd keep her on larger grit; it may hopefully help to break down the mass.

    Hopefully someone can take her and put her out of her misery. She's led a happy (if haphazard) life. There are worse things.... like an impacted crop and repeated surgeries. And what happens if something goes wrong with that? Rounds of antibiotics, a slow death are not a happy thing.

    The plot thickens.... as a rep of Sunset Mag, tens of thousands of people are reading the goings-on with your little flock. Now you have the opportunity to tell it like it is!
    And let me take a moment to say 'thanks' for the public blog, etc. If I'm ever caught with my four hens, Sunset (that bastion of green) will hopefully help sway my city of Pasadena to the idea that backyard chickens are a good thing for any forward looking city.

    Good luck! This is what happens when we name our chicks. [​IMG] Let us know what happens.

    Carla
     
  10. SunsetChickens

    SunsetChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the kind words, Carla.

    Working at a magazine doesn't make caring for the flock any easier. But I wish it did! If only our flock were all glossy photos and beautiful vistas ... [​IMG]

    The coop is now straw-free (I'm still kicking myself about that one), and she's getting regular olive oil and plain yogurt. She's still laying, which is good, and she doesn't especially seem to be in any kind of pain. She just has a big ol' crop. We'll wait and watch.
     

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