Common Crop Issues in Chickens

Common Crop Problems

Crop issues of any kind are defiantly one of the last things any chicken keeper wants to deal with, and I’ve had to deal with a case of impacted crop before. It wasn’t fun. Treatment can prove to be difficult, and in my opinion, preventive measures are much easier. Trust me, any kind of preventive measure will go a long way.

Now for different kinds of crop issues, there’s three main ones you hear about all the time. Impacted Crop, Sour Crop, and Pendulous Crop. Each one is different from each other, but a main cause can be any digestive issues, so it’s important to watch what your chickens eat.

Impacted Crop is the most common out of the three. It’s where food gets stuck in a chickens crop and cannot be digested. Symptoms of an impacted crop would be a droopy chicken, a bulging crop that feels full, hard, and soft to touch. If you feel your chicken has this, isolate her with only water, no chicken feed. Be sure to massage the crop to try to break up the contents in the crop as much as you can. Try feeding her soft bread (no crust), and soft things that would be easy to digest. Also, olive oil makes a good lubricant to help push things along in the crop, so syringe feeding the sick bird olive oil would be a good idea. Make sure there’s plenty of grit available as well, as grit helps chickens digest food better. It’ll act to grind up the food in the crop. After a few days with no improvement, a vet call might be needed if a chicken vet is available, so that way the vet could physically empty the crop.

This is an example of a chicken with a full crop. Image credit to

For Sour Crop, this is difficult to treat. Sour Crop is commonly caused from when the contents in a chickens crop ferment and turn “sour.” It’s essentially a yeast/ bacterial infection in the crop. If you make a vet visit, they’ll prescribe the hen with an antibacterial or antifungal medication, and really, that’s the best way to go. Give the chicken only yogurt, olive oil, and water until the chicken improves. Since Apple Cider Vinegar is a good antibacterial, adding it to the sick birds water will help, as well as keeping it in their water all year-long. Massage the crop to break up the contents, massaging towards the head to induce vomiting as a last resort. This can be tricky, as the liquids the hen vomits up can get into the lungs.

Even if you manage to treat sour crop or impacted crop, the crop can remain stretched out and cause Pendulous crop. This is where the muscles around the crop become loose and the crop can dangle from side to side. For treatment, put the sick chicken on water for 24 hours to let the crop rest. The crop should firm up after that, and be sure to provide plenty of grit afterwards.

Preventive Measures

Preventing crop problems is much easier than dealing with treatment, so here’s some good preventive measures.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar: This is a good antibacterial and antifungal, perfect for preventing and treating sour crop.
  • Yogurt: It’s good to feed your chickens yogurt as it contains good bacteria
  • Get rid of any items that can get stuck in your chickens crops such as long feathers, strings, long grass chunks and if your chickens eat straw or bedding, change your bedding options.
  • Check each chickens crops: Take a look at what your chickens crops feel like and what size they are throughout the day. It should be full by night and empty in the morning.
  • Be sure to maintain digestive system health

What Even is A Crop?

A chickens crop is a “pouch” where they store food until it can be digested, but sometimes things can get stuck in their crops. Providing grit will help solve this problem.  The grit also is good in their gizzard where it can grind up food.

The crop is located on the right side of a chickens breast, and it will stick out when the hen is full. I often see my birds laying around when they have full crops. Guess they get lazy after eating a big meal like me!

I hope this helps answer any crop questions you have, and I hope it helps you prevent any crop issues in your flock. Remember, I’m not a poultry vet, and these are just some tips I’ve picked up on. But, with that being said, these tips still do a good job in preventing and treatment aid. Listed below are some sources where you can do further reading if you’d like.

Dancing with Chickens

© Dancing with Chickens, 2018.

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