Impacted Gizzard: preventable? treatable?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Summer98, Oct 10, 2013.

  1. Summer98

    Summer98 Songster

    Sep 11, 2011
    I have lost numerous chickens to impacted gizzard. We have done a necropsy each time to confirm this. One time it was impacted with fibers from those flower planters that are like straw. Another time it was 100% grass impaction. The other time it was pieces of glass in the gizzard. It's hard enough losing chickens that I didn't want to lose. So now I am lead to wonder, can impacted gizzard be prevented? Can it be treated once it has occurred?

    As for prevention, I have heard that you must keep your lawn mowed short, so that they are not ingesting long strands of grass. This is not an option for us because our sheep doing the mowing and it is not short at all times. To combat this, what I do is feed them first thing in the morning their layers crumble and wait until they fill up on that before letting them outside for the day to free range. This way, they are not overly hungry and hopefully will not gorge themselves on grass first. I also provide grit and oyster shells, free choice, in a hopper. But they don't seem to take much out of it. So maybe I need to sprinkle grit into their feeder?

    As for treatment, I'm wondering if giving vegetable oil would soften it up like it does for crops? Maybe that would be useless? All I know is the one that had her gizzard impacted with all grass, the gizzard was hard as a rock and I doubt oil could have done it.

    Any one have any thoughts, knowledge, experience on gizzard impaction?
  2. Judy

    Judy Crowing

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I think you are talking about crop impaction. You can easily feel and see an impacted crop from the outside. I've never had it happen. I've read of its being caused by straw and grass, and I'm sure there are other causes. I get the impression it can happen when the fibers or strands are long. A quick search here will bring up lots of threads and probably some articles.
  3. Summer98

    Summer98 Songster

    Sep 11, 2011
    The crops were all fine. We cut them open after they died to examine the cause. It was always the gizzard. :-(
  4. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

    Nov 27, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Try giving them tomato juice.
  5. Mountain Life

    Mountain Life In the Brooder

    Jul 28, 2011
    THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I am so grateful for those who won't give up and keep helping!
    This is an awesome platform, filled with caring and devoted souls!!!

    Will they drink tomato juice or do you have to feed them it through a tube, usually?
    How much tomato juice would you suggest? One a day for 3 days or how would you dose it?
  6. ten chicks

    ten chicks Songster

    May 9, 2013
    Gizzard impacted would suggest to me that they are not eating enough grit. The gizzard is a strong muscle,grit is stored in gizzard,grit along with the contraction of gizzard grinds food up so that it can be digested.
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I have no special knowledge or experience with gizzard impaction. It’s been years since I read up on it and most of what I found then was on Emus, not chickens. What you are describing sounds really strange though. Gizzard impaction is when something blocks the exit of the gizzard so nothing solid can pass on through the digestive system or when it gets filled with sand or such and cannot operate.

    One cause is them eating something that can’t be broken down by their digestive juices or ground up in the gizzard, like plastic. That kind of sounds like your first one. Not sure if that stuff was coconut fiber or something else natural or if it was something artificial. Since you are organic, I‘d guess something natural but hard to digest or grind.

    Another cause is log fibers like grass that get balled up and somehow can’t be ground up. That’s normally associated with chickens that don’t have grit but yours do. They should get plenty of grit when they are out forging on that grass in the sheep pasture. Chickens have been raised like that for thousands of years, grazing on long grass in pastures and hayfields. It’s possible but really really rare for them to have that problem, but you saw what you saw when you opened her up. Either you are extremely unlucky or are you sure a piece of plastic or something else wasn’t blocking the exit causing a back-up?

    Sometimes they will eat so much sand or such that the gizzard gets full and can no longer work. That’s one that was a normal reason with Emus. I’m going by memory so that’s risky, but I think that is sometimes associated with a mineral deficiency. Maybe your hen was so fascinated with that glass that she just stuffed herself with it, but there is another possibility. Was the gizzard really stuffed with glass? Maybe instead of an impacted gizzard she punctured the lining of her gizzard so the stuff was leaking into her body cavity? That occasionally happens when a hen eats a tack or screw and tries to grind it up in her gizzard, though most of the time that tack or screw passes on through without causing damage. If that were the case, you should have noticed a mess in her body cavity when you opened her up.

    What’s strange to me is that they are inconsistent. You did not have one thing that caused it but three different causes. It’s not repeatable. How can you prevent something that does not repeat but has a different cause every time?

    That leads me to one more thought. I see that you have several different breeds of chickens. Are the ones affected genetically related? Is there something genetic that makes them predisposed to this?

    Whether it can be treated or not depends on what causes it, which you probably can’t determine while they are alive. Even then the odds are not very good. If you can recognize the symptoms in time, you might try drenching them with vegetable or mineral oil, trying to loosen things up enough to get things moving. Liquids might be able to pass through the system so maybe if you can get oil into the crop it can work its way down to help.

    Not much help I know. This is one that has to be frustrating.
  8. Judy

    Judy Crowing

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I apologize -- honestly, I'd never heard of gizzard impaction, so I have learned a lot here.

    What ridgerunner says makes a lot of sense, about its having a different cause each time. How very frustrating.
  9. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Crowing

    Mar 6, 2008
    Northern California
    I learned years ago to keep grass cut short after pulling wads of grass out of a few chickens. Also, feeds that are low if fiber and high in protein and nitrogen-free extract are usually highly digestible. The reverse would also be true, making feeds less digestible. Feeds that give rapid passage through the digestive tract are less digestible, and don't naturally exercise the gizzard. Digestibility is also affected by environmental and external conditions. The flow of digestive juices can be influenced by fright and other disturbances. As a rule, we could say that the most palatable foods are also the most digestible, probably because favorable and vigorous activity is promoted in the digestive tract. I hope you get to the bottom of your problem. Maybe observe their stress level and the contents of their feed/environment.
  10. Summer98

    Summer98 Songster

    Sep 11, 2011
    I've never heard of tomato juice for this. They do eat tomatoes for treats. I recently sprinkled some grit into their feeder to make them take in some grit. They don't seem to take much out of the hopper free choice.

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