Diagnosing and treating crop infection

Q. Our hen looks like she has crop infection, can you help?

A. Sorry I didn’t stay long on the phone with you. I knew I had some stuff in my files but couldn’t remember them off the top of my head. So, email will be the best medium for this.

I forgot to ask you four questions:

Is she gasping for air?

Did the water that came out smell foul?

If squeeze the lump in the crop and smell her breath, does it also smell sour?

I think I misdiagnosed it. I said impacted crop … it’s more of the SOUR CROP condition in which a hen regurgitates liquid. It’s a fungal infection.

The first thing I would do is to isolate her from the other hens ( after the rooster, I think you got a few more, right?). Put her in a box or cat carrier or something and make her comfortable.

If the crop is very soft and feels like a water filled balloon, then this is called a sour crop. This is caused by a fungal infection and all the extra liquid is the body’s reaction to the fungus.

In this case the crop contents will smell awful, so another way to confirm this is the problem is to smell the chicken’s breath. A bad smell points to sour crop. Sometimes they even regurgitate some fluid themselves.

You can get rid of some of the fluid by making the chicken sick. If you do this you need to be very careful so the chicken doesn’t choke as the fluid comes back.

Feed her a few drops of cod liver oil. Wait 15 minutes then hold her upside down perhaps wrapped in a towel and massage her stomach and crop in circles with the palm of your hand from left to right (if the hen is facing you) This is the direction the food usually goes so massaging in this direction should help break up and move on stuck matter

Then squeeze the crop quite firmly, pushing from the bottom upwards to her mouth until the contents start to come up and out through her mouth, this can take a while and you may need to pull out any grassy bits etc from her mouth. You may need to turn her up the right way every now and again so that she can breathe.

Do several small attempts, rather than one big one. This can be risky so do it very carefully.

If this a severe case of sour crop, the goop may come out of her eyes too. If so, just clean them and let her rest for awhile.

I recommend not doing this as a big job … but do it in small stages. Empty her crop then let her rest, and try it again a half hour later.

After awhile, her crop may still fill squishy even if nothing came out.

Flush her system with molasses/water mix to flush any toxins out. Use 1-2 teaspoons of molasses with a quart of water. The molasses water will flush soured food from the
bird’s digestive system and give her some sugars for energy. Feed it to her slowly so you don’t choke her.

You can try to feed her now.

Home treatment is by giving live, bio yogurt. Most chickens, given the chance, will eat this directly. If your chicken will not eat it give a teaspoon or two (5-10ml) by syringe. You can break up an acidophilus pill into the yogurt to help restore the good bacteria and push out the bad bacteria.

Something you can also do is give the bird bread soaked in cod liver oil too. Offer her some food – nothing solid, however. Give only soft food. This lets the inflamed and irritated crop recover and prevents another impaction.

You may have to do this for a week or so and keep checking her crop, emptying if it swells again.

The soft diet can include crumbles and chopped hard-boiled eggs. You can feed bread if it is soaked in milk or buttermilk. Buttermilk is especially good because active culture buttermilk has good bacteria in it that help the bird’s digestion.

Be sure to also give the bird some beneficial bacteria. They keep digestion going correctly and fight disease by crowding out disease bacteria. You can just mix 1-2 teaspoons per bird of ACTIVE culture yogurt with a small amount of food and give this as the only food until they eat it.

You can also buy lactobacillus at health food stores Give no grains, no large pellets, no not soaked bread, and no grass or greens because these can cause another impaction.

Feed only things that almost fall apart when wet.

Unsweetened applesauce is really good as it restores good bacteria and the pectin in it will help with food digestion.

If this does not help after a few days, or if the chicken’s health is deteriorating in any other way, an avian vet may prescribe anti-fungal medicine.

If you want to use antibiotics to fight infection, Terramycin will help and you can usually find it in feed stores. If I had some terramycin on hand, I would definitely offer some to you.

Sorry for the choppiness of this email. I’m copying and pasting relevant stuff from my files. Hopefully, this will be of some help. Keep me informed and feel free to call me at anytime to discuss stuff or anything. Don’t feel as if you are bothering me. I’m glad to help! This kind of stuff gives me experience in handling things and to be able to help others too. And besides, I hate to think of any animal suffering without at least doing
SOMETHING to help.

I’m usually around to read my email regularly. And I’ll be home most of the day tomorrow.

Best of luck to your little hen.

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  1. Bobbi says:

    Thanks so much this is/was very helpful!

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