Suspected Sour Crop - best home treatment?

Advertisement Purina Flock Layer


Apr 23, 2017
Berkeley, CA
I have 2 sick hens - see backround info below. One seems very sick, won't stand up, eat, or drink. I made a vet appt - BUT the earliest I can get is 4 days away, so I'm trying alternate home treatment.

I have a flock of 6 hens in my backyard, 2-3 years old & all different breeds. We live in an urban area. Four days ago someone broke into my backyard at night - they didn't steal anything, but they went into the coop. In the morning I found the gate forced open, the coop door latch missing (but they left the door closed), and a half-empty, open bag of cheese puffs lying on the coop floor. I suspect neighborhood teens were curious about the chickens & probably didn't intend to hurt them - I think they pet them & fed them cheese puffs. When I found all this, the hens - who usually are jumping up and down at the coop door to be let out into their fenced yard - were all huddled in the nesting box area.

My 2 dominant hens, a Brahma & a Welsummer, hid in the nesting boxes all day. The next day they seemed lethargic. The third day the Brahma seems very sick - no eating, drinking, walking - and the Welsummer seems lethargic and pale, but still walking around and drinking water. I see no sign of parasite, injury, impacted crop, weird feces. Neither bird has a distended crop, but both are mushy feeling. The Brahma has had clear fluid coming out of her beak a couple of times. Based on what I can observe, I am guessing that both ate many cheese puffs and developed sour crop.

I have the Brahma in my home, keeping her warm & quiet. Gale D advises laxative treatment, then copper sulfate mixed into water. I've called several places and cannot find anyone who sells copper sulfate: I ordered it online, but it won't arrive for 5 days.

Online I'm finding advice to give them: no food or water for 12 hours or for 24 hrs, yogurt, olive oil, oil of oregano, probiotics, cinnamon, apple cider vinegar, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, and even yeast infection treatment sold as a suppository for human women.

Any advice on which of these things is most likely to help? Other tried-and-true home treatments? Any other guesses as to what has made my chickens sick?

Thank you.
Were the crops mushy feeling early in the morning before they had drunk or eaten? Do they have a sour or foul odor from the beaks? If there is no sour odor, the crops may just be slow. Do they have granite poultry grit they can take to help the gizzard digest food?

You should never keep them from having water to drink with any crop disorder. I would never give a laxative to a chicken because it could dehydrate and cause electrolyte imbalance.

Stool softeners (doccusate sodium) are sometimes used, and others like chilled coconut oil cut into small pieces to help move food along.

I would worry the teens that broke in might have given them other things to eat. The high salt content in the Cheetos might be bothering them, as well as the fright or possible abuse. I think that I would not throw so many herbs and other things at them, but give them some wet chicken feed, some bits of scrambled egg, and lots of water. Are they passing droppings, and what do they look like? @azygous and @two crows have some articles on crop disorders. Some feel that sour crop is not always a fungal problem, but might be caused by bacteria. Many times a crop disorder can accompany other problems, such as intestinal or reproductive problem.
Thanks for your quick reply. By the time I felt their crops, they'd stopped eating, so squishy in the morning & the same later in the day. Very sparse droppings, dry for the sicker bird. No sour/bad smell. They always have access to grit.

Maybe it has nothing to do with the crop - I guessed that because of the liquid coming out of the beak.

I'm getting the sicker one to drink by dipping her beak in water; she doesn't want to eat anything.

I haven't given them any treatments and I can just wait to see if they survive to the vet appt.

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