Small Impacted Crop: To Perform Surgery or Not?

micstrachan

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
Apr 10, 2016
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Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Hi. I’m sorry to hear about your hen’s crop. I have been afraid to tube for years, and finally got into a life or death situation with a hen who was molting so heavily in winter she completely stopped eating or drinking. i’ve had her inside for warmth and tubing for two weeks. I’m just transitioning her back outside now.

I have found that just the fluid gets the crop going. I swear her digestion seems more active if I tube fluids before anything else. If you do decide to tube fluids, I have found that remaining calm seems to be the most important factor. That combined with the upper beak grasp described by @Overo Mare in her video really help. I need to read this thread before commenting on treating the crop itself. However, if you have determined that she needs fluid in her crop, I highly recommend it. I would start with a low volume until you get a little experience and confidence, especially if her crop is already full.

Edited: I had some voice to text errors... warmth, not worms! 🤣
 
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StPaulieGirls

Songster
13 Years
Aug 14, 2007
116
28
231
Hutchinson, MN
Thanks for this! Luckily, I have my spouse and my nephew on Team Calm. I think that I'm more worked up thinking about these more invasive procudures than actually doing them, if you know what I mean.

I'll check on our patient in about an hour to see how her crop is this morning. We don't have all the nice French catheters here, but we do have some mini aquarium tubing that we're hoping will do the trick. If we do go with tube hydration, we'll definitely take it slow.

Since this hen isn't contagious, I'm thinking of bringing in a pal from her little sub-flock of other barred rocks. I hope that company might inspire her to drink more on her own and maybe to eat some yogurt?

Grateful for everyone's advice and guidance,
Kerri in MN
 

StPaulieGirls

Songster
13 Years
Aug 14, 2007
116
28
231
Hutchinson, MN
Hey, folks,

We tubed 30 CCs of warm water w/Nutridrench into our impacted hen's crop this morning and are about to do it again now, about 4 hours later. She didn't love it, but we managed and she didn't aspirate.

Questions for you all:
1. The mass feels pretty fibrous - probably straw with wood chips. Is it more likely to loosen and clear slowly, with the crop shrinking a bit at a time? Or are we going to work at it for days without much change and then suddenly it'll pass?

2. Should we be feeding her anything? I tried scrambed egg on her, and she wasn't a fan. She would eat dried grubs for sure if I offered them. Or should we stick with hydration and vitamins?

We've still got a tennis-ball sized hard mass. We're on day 3 of oil/massage. Her breath doesn't smell great, but it doesn't smell super-yeasty, either.

Thanks for any tip or encouragement. When I have a sick bird, I kind of stop attending to the rest of my life, which isn't a very healthy pattern.

Best,
Kerri in MN
 

Eggcessive

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Apr 3, 2011
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southern Ohio
I would tube water with electrolytes and massage the crop. My experience with impacted crops has been that then hen had other problems that caused a slowdown in digestion. How old is the hen? There is a possibility of crop surgery by your vet if it doesn’t clear soon. Be sure to not use Ducolax laxative bisacodyl, but the stool softener doccusate sodium. Colace is the better known brand name, and generic doccusate sodium is less expensive.
 

StPaulieGirls

Songster
13 Years
Aug 14, 2007
116
28
231
Hutchinson, MN
So, we're on Day 6 of an impacted crop during a very hard molt for this 1-year-old, 4 lb barred rock hen. She is in very good shape otherwise, surprisingly fiesty and bright-eyed.

We've been tubing 35mL of warm fluids (with Nutridrench or electrolytes) into her four times a day. Colace twice daily. We've also added some gentle digestive enzymes (cellulase, etc) in the hopes that would catalyze some breakdown. The crop has not gone down in size at all - it's a pliable fibrous mass that gets squishier with massaging but then hardens back up again. This morning, I was concerned that she's been without calories for a long time, so I offered her some liquified rations which she ate up eagerly. Her poops are all over the place, both literally and figuratively, sometimes green mash, sometimes brown with urates, usually pure liquid a while after we give her crop fluids. Her breath smells yucky but not particularly yeasty, yet.

Some of the skin on the outermost part of her crop is looking very red and tender. I'd say the mass is the size of a lemon. Are we at risk of her rupturing? There's some wiggle and give in the rest of the skin around the crop.

None of the avian vets within a several-hour-drive are taking new patients right now, so a vet isn't an option. We're trying to decide whether to just keep at the tube fluids & massage for as long as she's perky, or whether to attempt surgery sooner rather than later since she's got decent strength, in spite of the molt. The suture kit we ordered from Amazon was supposed to arrive Sunday, but isn't here yet.

We're tender-hearted farmers and willing to continue care, but also willing to put her down if and when she seems to be suffering without hope of recovery. We're not to that point yet - she's mighty uncomfortable, but also eager to sneak out of the mudroom to explore the kitchen and happy to complain about her plight.

Thanks for any guidance.
Kerri
 

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