1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Impacted crop from long grass? I'm a worried 'hen mother''...

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Des R, Jun 15, 2016.

  1. Des R

    Des R Chillin' With My Peeps

    92
    4
    51
    Apr 27, 2016
    Maryland / Delaware
    I'm new to keeping chickens and the girls are 5 weeks old. I take them out to the yard almost daily (weather permitting) in a fenced area and let them forage. Days it's not nice enough to take them out, I've been shoveling up a clump of dirt and grass and putting in the brooder because they seem to love it. I also give them a bowl of chick grit. Today I noticed a chick had a hard lump on her chest so I googled it and realized it's only a full crop. Then I realized about half of the chicks have the same lump. But as I was reading, I learned I shouldn't allow them to have long grass? Uh oh, they love the long grass and they've been gobbling a lot of it. Do you have to keep the grass mowed for chickens, this seems strange when people allow them to free range... have I messed up big time and what can I do about it?

    Thanks in advance for you advice!

    Des
     
  2. chickcrack

    chickcrack Chillin' With My Peeps

    614
    110
    116
    May 27, 2016
    Ontario, Canada
    Long grass can knot up and block their crop. I've dealt with it in a hen. don't panic yet. Check their crops first thing in the morning to make sure they emptied. If your chicks are still under a heat lamp that won't work tho as they will be eating all night long. Watch for crops that feel hard or extremely squishy like a water balloon. If you think a crop is blocked you need to withhold food and massage the crop to get it moving through. Never withhold water. Hopefully they were just full when you checked today!
     
  3. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer

    28,640
    5,214
    576
    May 11, 2010
    I give my chickens grass, but I limit the amount I give them. Normal healthy chickens can digest grass but in younger birds lacking size may end up with long grass hanging out of the mouth. If that happens in my flock they usually get assistance from a flock-mate who jerks it out. You may also notice the strands of grass passed in the stool which is an indication that the intestines are working correctly. However, you should not see undigested seed.

    If you are worried about impacted crop, monitor poop production. You can also check the crop in the morning to make sure it is small and empty. I must point out that a bird with a sour crop will have problems digesting just about anything because of bacteria imbalance. A diseased bird (viral/bacterial) will have problems digesting food because the crop may no longer contract in a normal fashion. Certain sugars can disrupt crop function as the sugar will cause an explosion of certain bacteria that will disrupt how the crop breaks down certain proteins.

    Most people make the mistake of thinking the crop is a simple 'holding' area. However, it is an important part of the digestive system as this is where certain enzymes prepare the food for digestion. A sour or blocked crop is distended with gas that smells horrible. It feels like a soft water balloon and is easy to palpate. In some cases the crop may be bloated and hard. You may or may not feel food inside. In either case the crop contents must be removed by through a soft rubber tube, the crop flushed clean, then given a product that reintroduces digestive bacteria. Benebac is my favorite. In severe cases subcutaneous IV fluids can be given to rehydrate the bird.

    My favorite product for treating a early case of sour crop is Toxiban available at your Veterinarian. I'm not a fan of yogurt as I prefer BeneBac. (Petsmart has this in the bird section) to reintroduce bacteria to a sluggish crop. And always remember that certain antibiotics can interfere with the normal population of bacteria in the crop.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. Des R

    Des R Chillin' With My Peeps

    92
    4
    51
    Apr 27, 2016
    Maryland / Delaware
    @chickcrack Thank you! I just happened to have removed the heat lamp just yesterday (on their 5 week birthday) because they are in my basement which is staying between 70-75 degrees with our warm weather. Should i just leave the food in the brooder for the night since it will be dark or remove it as a precaution?

    @theoldchick Thank you for the abundance of information! I'll check them in the morning and if I'm still worried, I'll probably come back to this thread for clarification, if you don't mind. Did not realize there was so much to learn about chickens!

    I'm thinking I should run past you guys what I do with the chicks and make sure I'm not doing anything else wrong. I have 12 pullets (hopefully) in a baby pool about 6' across with 4' high cardboard walls. As I mentioned, I removed the heat lamp yesterday and the coolest it gets in the basement is 70 degrees. I keep a regular bulb on in the day along with some light that comes in the basement windows, and then dark at night. They always have water (a 2 gal bucket that hangs with 4 poultry nipples) that I keep raising to keep at eye level with added electrolytes and vitamins, a feeder with medicated chick feed, a bowl of play sand, a bowl I used to add a chunk of dirt and grass in, and a small bowl of chick grit. As a treat I sometimes give them grapes, boiled egg yolks, or dried meal worms... but not everyday. We're frantically working on our coop because we've just recently realized it wasn't even close to predator proof... but it will be Fort Knox when we're done! Anyway, if you guys have any thoughts on what I'm doing I would be grateful if you'd share!

    Thank you!
     
  5. Donna R Raybon

    Donna R Raybon Chillin' With My Peeps

    238
    41
    68
    Apr 13, 2016
    Just make sure you are not getting too much ammonia build up. That many growing birds can really get smelly quick. A set of free standing roosts built like mini saw horses would give them something to do. Don't have to be just tall enough they can walk under so you add to space they can use. I brood in a big washtub and chicks love perching on edge to see what is going on.[​IMG]
    .
     
  6. chickcrack

    chickcrack Chillin' With My Peeps

    614
    110
    116
    May 27, 2016
    Ontario, Canada
    You sound like you are very on top of things! I think I want to move into your brooder lol! Go ahead and leave their food with them tonight. Once they get thru their "darkness is coming" panic they won't eat tonight. Just try to feel crops early before they've been too active. Keep blinds closed in the room if you need to buy yourself an extra hour of sleep.
    Little tip when giving treats always say something to them-same thing each time. They will get to learn that saying and will come running to you forever when you yell it. My oldest ladies are 3 and I (quite by accident) taught them to "come get their candy" lol. It's hilarious to see them come running from all corners of the yard to hop into their pen. Very handy and they have taught every addition to the coop. They will also probably love small bits of cheese, niblet corn, dandelion leaves and plain yogurt. Just wee bits goes a long way. Keep up the great work. I can already tell your a serious chicken parent!
     
  7. Des R

    Des R Chillin' With My Peeps

    92
    4
    51
    Apr 27, 2016
    Maryland / Delaware
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    @Donna R Raybon The basement space is 1000 sq ft and it did start to smell, so we opened the basement windows and moved the brooder so it's not close to any of them. I forgot to mention the perch... I'll attach pics. A "saw horse style would have easier! With the one I built I have to make sure bedding stays over the base... which they love to uncover lol. I'm so worried about them getting out of the brooder (even though I've chicken proofed the basement just in case). Your little ones just sit on the edge of the wash rub? That's the cutest picture ever!

    @chickcrack Thank you for the kind words! I'm trying, but so worried I've harmed them with the long grass (hubby's mower is getting the engine rebuilt, which lead to the tall grass). Luckily I'm up at 5:30 every morning with the dogs (I spoil all my pets!) and usually wake the chicks by 5:40am every morning. I take my coffee down and spend some time with them. I love the idea of teaching them a phrase and expect that can be incredibly helpful should I ever need to get them back in the run. We built them a 25'x25' run around their coop, but plan to let them out into the acre yard when we're home on the weekend. Thank you for the new treat ideas... due to the broken lawn mower I have a field of dandelions covering the acre... literally. Again, thank you for the kind words, fingers crossed till morning.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2016
  8. Des R

    Des R Chillin' With My Peeps

    92
    4
    51
    Apr 27, 2016
    Maryland / Delaware
    When I checked the girls last night after all the helpful information, I decided none of the lumps were very hard or very squishy, so that made me feel a bit better. But despite that I got up at 4am to check them again and NO LUMPS! All is well! No more long grass in their future...
     
  9. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,401
    171
    143
    Sep 4, 2013
    Lower Alabama
    The thing about grass is that when a chicken eats rooted grass the roots hold the blade of grass firmly, providing resistance that allows the chicken to break off bite size pieces. Mower clippings provide no resistance and the chicken has to eat the whole blade, no matter how long it is.
    It's not a big problem but I have lost several pullets/young hens over the years due to grass impacted crops.
     
  10. chickcrack

    chickcrack Chillin' With My Peeps

    614
    110
    116
    May 27, 2016
    Ontario, Canada
    That's great news. You remind me of what I was like 3 years ago! I had desperately wanted chicks but then realized the responsibility that came with them and tried to do everything perfectly. And did same with the coop-they didn't get into it until 8 weeks old because my research kept causing me to want it to be better/safer. They are amazing little creatures that surely do capture a space in our hearts at first glance lol. Your little girls are beautiful! Looks like you got quite a mixture of breeds and they are lucky little chicklets to have found such a good home.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by