Impacted Stomach / Gizzard


5 Years
Mar 11, 2014
Today, we euthanized one of our hens, probably 2 or 2 1/2 years old who was clearly dying. She'd been lethargic for a while and hasn't laid an egg for several months. I felt her stomach a few weeks ago and it was soft so I didn't think she had an impacted egg. Her posture has been 'hunched' and she's looked 'swollen' around her face/head and her body. Plump almost which my laying hens definitely don't usually look like.

Several days ago, I gave all the chickens some yogurt and she ate from the bowl, if not eagerly, consistently.

We did a necropsy after we put her down and everything inside looked healthy except her stomach was hard and large. We cut it open and inside it seemed full of grit, grass, stool, partially digested material.

Any suggestions on what might have caused this? I should add that in January we bought a new house along with which came a flock of chickens (the sellers couldn't take their chickens with them.) We kept both flocks separated for over a month and then let them graze together but not roost together--this was easy since each flock was used to going into their own coops all along. We thought she was stressed b/c the existing chickens picked on her and in our tiny flock she was on top. We did lose another chicken 6 weeks ago--did not necropsy her--we were sure it was an impacted egg but now I wonder.

We put apple cider vinegar in their water and DE in their feed and coops. Her symptoms don't exactly match diseases we've been researching.

We want to protect the rest of the flock but don't know what could have caused this in our hen or whether it could be infectious.


Welcome to BYC. She could have had a gizzard impaction. Was there a lot of fluid in the belly, or worms in the intestines? I lost one recently to an impacted gizzard, and found it full of sunflower shells and grit.
We didn't see any worms and she didn't have any fluid in her abdomen. In fact, she was all skin and bone, not much muscle on her so she probably hadn't been eating much for awhile. Impacted gizzard sounds right. Any ideas what causes it or how it can be prevented?

Wow! Finally it makes sense as to what we were seeing. We feed our girls a high quality organic, no soy, no GMO feed but let them forage all day every day and in fact have been turning over new gardens at the new house we bought. They've been feasting. They have ample water and to grit, but the move has been stressful to a few. We are getting read to move them to new pasture land as their work in the gardens is done for this year. We will mow down the pasture grass to keep it short and watch them all closely.
Thanks so much! We've been readers of BYC for nearly two years when we got our first five hens. This was our first post and I'm grateful to you!

You're very welcome. You can find a lot of information if you check out the emergency thread. Many people will respond, and there may occasionally be wrong information, but most people will give a good source such as a university agricultural department article backing up advice. I think it's a great way to learn about illnesses and treatments in chickens.
I was trying to look up these links but they no longer work! We lost a little gal today with the same thing, the vet xrayEd her and found her tummy full of grit or stuff undigested and her lung with an infection they euthanised her! So so sad 😞

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