Crop Problems: Impacted Crop, Pendulous Crop & Sour Crop

Frequently Asked Questions about chickens health.
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Crop Problems: Impacted Crop, Pendulous Crop & Sour Crop

Post by Tim »

This FAQ provides some information about Crop Problems.

1. Impacted Crop
Caused by a blockage in the crop of a bird. This is often caused by tough stems of woody grass that cannot pass from the crop down into the proventriculus. The crop feels full and feels like dough. Check first thing in the morning before the bird has had a chance to eat to see if the crop has emptied overnight. If this is not treated, the bird will eventually starve to death.

If you catch this early enough, the contents of the crop need to be softened before turning the bird upside down to empty the crop out through the beak.

This is a two person job and can be done by pouring either Liquid Paraffin, warm water or a couple of teaspoons of Olive Oil down the throat and massaging the crop for a few minutes. Whilst holding the bird firmly, turn the bird upside down and massage the contents out through the beak for 10 seconds before turning the bird back up the right way to allow it to breathe.

In more serious cases, or when the crop cannot be emptied easily, veterinary intervention is required. A vet will usually cut the crop open, empty the contents and stitch the bird back up afterwards.

2. Pendulous Crop
A pendulous crop is when the crop hangs down lower than normal (and often swings as the bird moves around). Whilst the problem is similar to an impacted crop, in this case, the crop has been stretched and the muscles are damaged so are unable to push food down the proventriculus easily.

A pendulous crop can be emptied in the same way as an impacted crop, but in mild cases, vets usually advise putting the bird onto water for 24 to 48 hours before gradually re-introducing food. In extreme cases, even if the crop is emptied in the same way, the muscles are damaged and weak and the crop will usually fill back up again.

3. Sour Crop
Sour crop is caused by a yeast in the crop and there is a terrible smell coming from the birds mouth. Birds are sometimes lethargic and lose condition. Sour crop can occur after a course of oral antibiotics (such as Baytril or Tylan) or if there has been a shortage of Vitamin A in the birds body.

Nystatin or Ketoconazole are the most widely used treatments – but these are prescription only medications that you will need to obtain from your vet.

This condition is common in pigeons as well as poultry and many experienced pigeon fanciers have recommended using Garlic to me. They believe it works faster and better than Nystatin so might be worth a try if it's difficult to get to the vets.

Further Information

The Digestive System of a Chicken article shows where the crop is situated on the poultrykeeper site.
Sour Crop information on the poultrykeeper site.
Pendulous Crop information on the poultrykeeper site
Book Recommendation- Diseases of Free Range Poultry by Victoria Roberts. Written in an easy to understand non technical language, suitable for hobby poultry keepers.

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