Prairie Fire Farm

11 Years
Jan 11, 2009
Dane County
Sorry to start a post with a tale of woe but we thought we would share our story to add to the 'database' online of impacted crop stories. We lost our favorite chook today. We THINK it was impacted crop that did her in, but we're not sure of anything. She started wheezing about 8 days ago, although a week earlier one of our rascally dogs had chased her and I noticed that she was making a honking sound and breathing heavily even 2 hours later. I thought she was just mad (and maybe it's unrelated). But 8 days ago, the wheezing turned into pretty unmistakable difficulty breathing within the day. She was throwing her head forward, making this honking sound (coughing I guess). I took to the posts and thought it could be gapeworm. Got sureguard wormer and gave her .25 ml of that (the liquid /goat stuff). Then my partner thought it was pneumonia and we tried some injectable tylosin (this from folks who are committed to organic but we aren't selling anything at the moment and she was our favorite family hen). She was suffering so much we felt we had to try everything. Then 4 days into it, when giving her another injection, I felt her crop. My partner has farmed before but for me, these were my first chickens. It was very hard, and about the size of my fist. At this point she hadn't eaten much if anything for a few days- was pecking at stuff but her breathing /gasping kept her from following through and actually swallowing anything. I massaged it, after giving a syringe of olive oil, and immediately she was breathing normally. The crop softened considerably. Then 2 hours later- she was gasping and the whole routine again. Again, oil and massage on the crop and she is breathing normally. I had similar success one more time that evening, then the next day when she was still gasping it didn't work. I tried to keep her hydrated with molasses water (and earlier electrolytes with acidopholus) and also gave her raw milk and yogurt intermittently. The rest of our flock, including some 4 wk old marans, totally fine btw.

We agreed today that we would do the 'home surgery' to clean out the crop but she didn't make it. I kept wondering if I was getting the oil and/or the molasses into her airway (she would hoot and cough sometimes) but then this whole thing STARTEd with the wheezy, coughing,gaspy thing. The crop never went down completely- and today when we did her autopsy- there were whole oats (she picked those from our oat straw) and grasses, maybe about 2-3 Tablespoons of stuff. Most folks describe large amounts of gunk in an impacted crop. My take is that it must have been impacted still- bc otherwise that would have digested, right? She most certainly was not getting any new grains/food into her except for my forced yogurt for the last 3-4 days. But it doesn't make sense that it would still have blocked her airway when I could manually move it away from her airway. And it worked earlier but why did it stop working to help her breathe? It's hard to know when you don't know what's normal. The other thing we saw was a large, hard gizzard. This I know was larger than normal. Nothing blocked her trachea (as far as we could tell).

So I know a lot of folks don't mention this respiratory difficulty with blocked crop but some do. I hope this helps someone- who can put pieces together to save their chicken. And I'll be glad to see some ideas (maybe I can even bear to have someone tell me I killed her with the molasses and should never have done THAT.)
We are very sad and it was a horrible helpless feeling - especially with her challenge breathing. She was an americauna and hatched last spring. Dang she was a great hen. Thanks to everyone for sharing stories and wisdom that at least gave us something to go on.


Flock Mistress
12 Years
Jan 1, 2008
I am sorry for your loss
I think that you did everything you could do to save your hen. Try not to feel guilty. You gave her a good life.


In the Brooder
11 Years
Jan 14, 2009
You have my heart felt condolences. Loosing a precious Hen is more difficult than anyone without them can imagine. We couldn't even imagine it ourselves till it happened to us. It is hard.

It always takes a few days to get my equalibrium back. Maybe I am too much of a wuss for this. Thank you for sharing. It is good information to have.
All my best,

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