Why does a chickens crop get full?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Acre of Blessings, May 11, 2008.

  1. Acre of Blessings

    Acre of Blessings Canning/Sewing Addict

    Apr 3, 2008
    Axton, VA
    If you have to always have food readily available would this be the reason? Or does it just take time for the crop to empty or develop enough to work faster?

    Just curious.
  2. BaronRenfrew

    BaronRenfrew Songster

    Adult birds do not need to have food available all day. Some birds will overeat (dark cornish) and constant food invites mice, rats, and small birds to come and dine (assuming they can get in).

    For faster growth of chicks it is better to have food available all day. Digesting food also creates heat keeping them warm.

    I would feed adults in afternoon so that they would graze more and eat table scraps in the morning. They also spoil less food when hungry. It also makes them easy to train if you call them when feeding (if they are free ranging). Our call was here cut cut cut cut. The flock would come running to us when called.

    The crop is a safety strategy for gallinaceous birds. This includes pheasants, partridges, grouse, quail, etc.

    Food often grows in open areas (corn fields) where predators can swoop in. This way birds can run out and fill the crop in 5 mins and run back to cover.

    It also lets them fill up so they can digest the food (creating heat to keep them warm) during the night.

    I know in grouse hunting (ruffed grouse commonly called partridge) the birds will poke around carefully all day making them hard to hunt. At around 4pm they will be found in the food areas filling up before roosting before sunset (5-6:30 pm in the Canadian autumn). The best strategy when hunting is to open the crop of the first bird found for clues to what they are eating so you can hunt where you find these foods.

    Thus the purpose of the crop.
  3. Acre of Blessings

    Acre of Blessings Canning/Sewing Addict

    Apr 3, 2008
    Axton, VA
    So they somewhat do that of a chipmunk......fill the jaws thus fill the crop. How do you know if the crop is compacted at an early stage?
  4. alalele

    alalele Songster

    Mar 21, 2008
    Livingston Parish, LA
    Great answer BaronRenfrew! I learned something new about chickens! So what age do they start using their crops that way? In pullethood?
  5. Tuffoldhen

    Tuffoldhen Flock Mistress

    Jan 30, 2007
    I keep feed out 24/7 for laying hens....meat birds are a different story....
  6. BaronRenfrew

    BaronRenfrew Songster

    At what age use of the crop?

    I noticed that when the chick is fully feathered (4 weeks) that they use the crop this way. I didn't really pay attention to it before.

    compacted crop? don't know about that.
  7. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    Think of the crop like our stomachs. It is what stores the food for digestion. The gizzard is like our teeth that grinds the food down. Once into the small intestine, digestion occurs, just like food into our small intestines.

    I give layers feed 24/7.

    To test for an impacted crop, take food away at night and see who still has a big crop in the morning. If it's big in the morning, then it probably has a blockage, if not, then they are normal.
  8. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

    Feb 4, 2007
    Leesville, SC
    At last. Someone who thinks like me! Dead on Baron!
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I would think that offering feed only 1x/day would make much much more sense for free-ranging chickens, or at least ones given regular significant quantities of kitchen waste, than for chickens kept in a small dirt run and fed scraps only irregularly.

    It doesn't seem like most chickens will overeat, and whether you have vermin problems depends a whole lot on the details of your situation.

    So I'm not sure it's really one-size-fits-all...

  10. Rogue_Woman

    Rogue_Woman Songster

    May 12, 2008
    birds use their crops from the first time they eat after hatching. One of my first (crappy) jobs out of high school was handfeeding baby parrots, and the method the shop used was a syringe full of parrot formula delivered in less than two seconds straight down the throat. Horrible practice, but even just-hatched chicks got their crops filled. I don't think I've ever dealt with a compacted crop, but I believe there are treatments for it.

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