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Pendulous crop?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by library910, Feb 1, 2011.

  1. library910

    library910 Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 11, 2010
    We have four hens, 11 months old. One of them, a Speckled Sussex (Sussie), had what we believed was a crop problem in early December...she was bobbing her head and pulling her neck in, looked very uncomfortable. Crop was not hard or especially distended, but she did have watery diarrhea. We put apple cider vinegar in the waterer, and added yogurt, olive oil and bread to her diet. I massaged her crop periodically, and she continued to eat well and recovered in 4 days. She didn't lay for a while but then began laying normally again.

    But here we are again with a similar but worse issue. Again she started head bobbing, pulling in her neck and writhing it from side to side. Her crop area looks really big, but is soft, and fits the description of sour/pendulous crop I have read. This has been going on for 6 days now. She again has watery diarrhea. She is continuing to eat quite actively and peck around but no eggs (although I did find a shell-less egg in the yard-maybe hers?). Two days ago I smelled her beak and it definitely seemed sour, so we held her upside down and had her vomit-what came up was a lot of yellow sticky foamy liquid. She still has a very big, soft crop area and we have continued vomiting her, but yesterday and today there is less coming up and the contents are grey and thick. I'm feeding her bread, olive oil, yogurt, and adding a little extra vinegar, but don't know how much is too much. She is with the other chickens and has access to the regular feed.

    I don't know where to go from here. What do normal crop contents look like? Should I continue to make her vomit if the crop stays enlarged? Or wait and see what happens? How long does it take for the crop to go back to normal? Should we isolate her from food? How do I know if she is getting better?

    Thanks for your expertize on all things chicken. I have checked the forum many times for information and it is always helpful.
     
  2. ipana

    ipana Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It definitely sounds like a sour crop issue. If your hen has been doing this for 6+ days, she may be losing weight from lack of nutrition. If possible, isolate her so that you can monitor her food and her poop. I'm going to try to find a thread and post the link to it where there is information that may help you. If you pick your bird up and she feels like she has lost weight, you will need to do some immediate care for her.

    Yes, you need to get this bird to vomit. But, a more helpful way, I think, is to flush the crop. By using a feeding tube and syringe without a needle, inject warm water into the crop. Depending on how full the crop is now, you could inject 60cc+ of warm water. With the water in there, massage the crop to help loosen what is causing it to be blocked and then hold the bird upside down, making certain that her head is always down. If she lifts her head, liquid can pool in her mouth and she may aspirate it into her lungs which could possibly kill her. There is an opening to the lungs in the mouth toward the back of and under the tongue. Flush her a couple of times and try to get as much of the junk out as possible. I held my bird over the toilet so I could see what was coming out. That will help you to know what's causing the problem and you can keep her away from that stuff after she recovers as it may cause the same problem again.

    Do not keep feeding the bird anything other than soft food. The food isn't going through so it is only making the problem worse. If she is pooping some, that's a good thing but she needs soft food. I used diluted baby food through the syringe. If she'll eat it herself, it doesn't have to be so dilute. Someone who is studying to be a vet cautioned that using baby food with garlic or onion powder is not good for birds long term as it causes hemolytic anemia. I doubt that you will be using baby food long term but keep that in mind.

    I'll paste a couple of links for you. One is pictures of poop so that you can compare your hen's poop to the pictures and get some info about where she is. Another is a first aid site where (if you scroll down) you can see a crop tube set up and instructions. I will also look for a link to a thread here for more info. Keep us posted. We hope you can save your hen.

    http://www.chat.allotment.org.uk/index.php?topic=17568.0

    http://www.broodyhen.co.uk/ket/fowlnotfoul/1staid.htm

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=442100
     
  3. library910

    library910 Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 11, 2010
    Hi ipana, thanks for your informative post and the great links. I will definitely put together a crop tube but as I didn't think I could get the components today I decided that I'd better get Sussie to vomit again this morning. I had let her have access the regular feed, and was afraid she was just getting more and more bunged up. Well, it was very dramatic! After getting just a couple of tablespoons out of her the previous times we had done this, today she started and I didn't think she was ever going to stop. Probably got way more than a cupful, full of fibrous stuff, straw from the coop and other things...it lasted quite a while and I was afraid she would aspirate or just peg out, poor thing looked very distressed (as was I!). I could feel the crop getting smaller.

    I kept her on my deck all day and fed a few small meals of sweet potatoes, scrambled egg and yogurt, which she loved (she's having no problem eating), and massaged her crop several times during the day. She is a placid, gracious girl and accepted the massaging after all I did to her this morning. She pooped about 10 times. Her first poop this morning before the vomiting was a splash of liquid; after the vomiting she had a fairly normal though small poop, and then very soft brown poop...but I'm figuring with the soft food her poop would be soft too...Her crop area is still enlarged and floppy-looking, but not as much as it was. Her crop feels a lot smaller. I did not see any head bobbing, so I think she is definitely more comfortable.

    So that is where we are now. I'll keep her on the soft food diet for a day or two and see how things go. Do you think we should do the crop tube and make her vomit again to be on the safe side? Or just see how she does? Clearly food is going through her now. How long would you recommend the soft food diet?

    It's really a comfort to have some experience out there. About a year ago, my husband said "Let's get chickens!" Little did I know a year later I'd be vomiting a chicken (we both ended up covered in vomit) and doing detailed observations on poop. But we love our girls and having our own eggs.

    Thank you!
     
  4. ipana

    ipana Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The key in knowing that your hen does not need continued flushing is when her crop is empty in the morning. To say it is empty means that when you feel the crop, you do not feel food still in it. If you can get the crop tube and inject some warm water and then vomit her, you may be able to get the remaining stuff out that is clogging her. I would recommend that after you have vomited her, do not feed her for at least a couple of hours. I know it is hard to do that but her crop needs to begin to "heal" by getting the old gunk out and allowing it to come back to a more normal shape.

    It sounds like you're making progress and that's wonderful. The thing that will put her back into the cycle is to feed her hard food too soon. Let her stay on the soft food for at least 2-3 days. You can judge by noting that her crop is flat in the mornings. Once she's had a couple of good days of "flatness," begin adding a small amount (1 tsp at first) of her regular food like laying crumbles. I would not give her any scratch feed or seeds just yet. The coarse feed could be added back after you've gotten her fully on the crumbles. Take your time with this. It's hard but you'll be miles ahead if you bring her back to regular feed slowly. Think of it this way...go too fast to get her back onto her food and you'll need to do this all again. Slow and easy wins the race, said the tortoise to the hare!

    Also, as you are seeing what's coming out, those are the things that you need for her to avoid in the future or it could cause problems again.

    Thanks for posting. We wish you well and look forward to hearing more of your progress in the next few days.

    Chickens are great pets, aren't they? These little bumps in the road will pass. Watching them scratch around, have them get onto your lap, eating out of your hand...those are the things we enjoy. And, as you say, love those eggs!
     
  5. library910

    library910 Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi Ipana, thanks for the good, cautious advice. I very much agree with the slow approach. Sussie is doing very well today. I felt her crop first thing this morning and while I'm not totally sure what "empty" feels like, being new to crop feeling, it was small and did not seem like there was anything there. Very similar to the other chickens. She still looks a bit flabby, but it doesn't seem to be "all crop" now.

    I've had her on the deck with soft foods all day, several normal looking poops. No head bobbing. I appreciate your advice on the crop tube, and we will set ourselves up with that for a back-up plan, but I'm inclined to feel her crop in the morning again and if all seems well, start with the 1 tsp of crumble and slowly start bringing her back. I had to be gone for a short time today, and put her in the coop (I removed the feeder), when I came back she was emerging from the hen house and there was an egg in the nest box that looked like hers. We have another hen that lays similar eggs, so can't be sure, but this looks like a Sussie egg, which would be a great sign.

    What did come out in the vomit was a lot of fibrous stuff but especially some straw from the bedding, three or four pieces about 4 inches long. My husband has liked straw in the coop and shavings in the hen house. Do you have any thoughts on the best bedding?

    Again, I really appreciate the advice. I'm not sure we are totally out of the woods but things are looking so much better.

    Thank you!
     
  6. ipana

    ipana Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, library910, for the update. Checking her crop like you're doing is great. By empty, it means just as you are describing...there is nothing in there. Overnight, the crop is moving things through giving continuous nutrition. That's why chickens like to eat in the late afternoon near sunset and are really hungry in the morning. Having the crop tube ready for future use is also a good idea but, of course, we hope we never have to use it!

    While I wouldn't know for sure, it is possible that the straw bedding is causing her problems. My sour crop hen has issues with grass! Some chickens apparently just can't quite handle long grass, hay or straw. For my coop, I use pine shavings. Cedar is toxic with other woods being toxic, as well. I had just read that walnut is toxic. You may want to consider removing the straw. Not knowing your exact situation, of course I wouldn't know, but if you saw some straw in her vomit, it would seem that would be a good thing to eliminate. You'll have to be the judge.

    Once again, return her to normal food very slowly. It is hard to withhold what they like, I know, but if you think of it in terms of do I want to put her through this again? If you can, take 3-4 days to get her back to normal. Meanwhile, once she is back, I would not put any scratch or mixed grain seeds for her to get. Keep her on crumbles for a couple of days to see how she does. Then, in the same manner, slowly let her have some scratch feed and/or grains if that's what you feed her.

    Isn't it thrilling to see these birds return to good health? I'm continually learning, too, and appreciate all the knowledge that is shared on this board. One of the things that is becoming clear is that I must shepherd this flock carefully if I want to keep them healthy. They are very vulnerable to predators and to illnesses, like sour crop. If we didn't care for them, we'd only run out to grab the eggs and if one dies, well, "it's only a chicken." Yes, it's only a chicken, but it's my chicken and I want her to have as happy and healthy a life as I can muster. Every day I pick these birds up (I only have four so it's not difficult) and check their crop. I watch their poop, their eggs, their roost, everything. Hopefully, I can catch problems before they get too bad. Yes, they will not live forever so when the time comes, I will have to endure the loss but in my heart, I'll know I did all I could.

    Keep us posted, library, on Sussie. She's a lucky little hen to have an owner like you. Good job.
     
  7. library910

    library910 Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 11, 2010
    Hi Ipana, Sussie looks great today. Everything back to normal. I've been going slowly with the crumbles but think that this evening she can go back in the coop with her girlfriends. We'll still hold off on scratch etc. for a few days and keep an eye on things.

    Thanks so much for your thorough and detailed advice. It really got me through this!

    Julie
     
  8. ipana

    ipana Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh, library910, I am just totally thrilled with your news. I know you'll keep an eye on her. Give us an update in a few days or so, will you? It's nice to know that maybe some little bird is getting the help it needs.
     
  9. cforeman

    cforeman Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 26, 2010
    My 2 year old Buff seemed to have the same problem this whole week. She quit eating. I tried to force feed her but her crop still had the food in it the next morning. I tried every thing you did with the oil and ACV but I took her to the vet today he said she probably won't make it that she has an infection in her crop. He gave her a shot of antibiotics and a shot of steroid. I still can't get her to eat. I hope she is better tomorrow
     
  10. ipana

    ipana Chillin' With My Peeps

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    cforeman, I am sorry to hear about your hen. Even though you've been to the vet, I would encourage you to keep trying. While I wouldn't fully know, it would seem that if you could get her crop emptied, feed her soft foods, she may have a chance. She cannot be continually fed hard foods since her crop isn't moving things through. It is possible that it is blocked by something...grass, large seed, all kinds of things cause the crop to be plugged. Is she pooping at all? That lets you know if anything is getting through.

    Go to this site, scroll down and look at the crop tube information. If you are willing to try, get yourself a set up with tubing and syringe, and inject warm water into the crop and massage it gently. Then, hold the bird upside down to get the crop emptied. You must keep the bird's head down or she could aspirate and die from fluid in the lungs. There is a lung opening at the back of the tongue and under the tongue. If she lifts her head, fluid can pool in her mouth and when she gasps, she will aspirate. Be sure to watch to see what is coming out so that you can avoid this in the future. The first "batch" won't be the problem; it'll be the last stuff to come out and could be grass, hay, straw, etc.

    http://www.broodyhen.co.uk/ket/fowlnotfoul/1staid.htm

    You may have to repeat the procedure 2-3 times to try to empty the crop. After you have done all you can, do not give her anything to eat....nothing. Let her rest 2-3 hours. If the crop feels empty to you then, give her some baby food and applesauce to eat. Do not give anything hard at all. Check her crop in the morning to see if it seems empty. If so, you're on your way. If not, then you must flush her again and repeat the feeding process. If she doesn't eat on her own, dilute some of the baby food and inject it through the feeding tube directly into her crop. Continue monitoring her poop.

    If your hen seems to be losing weight, it may be from lack of nutrition. Try to do these interventions as soon as you can since they lose condition rather quickly. If it's been all week, time is of the essence here.

    If you have questions, please post. Don't give up on that bird. She'll thank you for it...and probably won't even send a bill! Keep us posted, will you?
     

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