Thursday, March 13, 2014

Treating a chicken with sour crop

Chicken is throwing up, not eating, and crop feels swollen. Your chicken may have a sour crop.

Tail feathers pointed down or a chicken who does not want to roost are sure signs of an illness.

Tail feathers pointed down
is a sign of a sick chicken

This is the second time in last two months this happened to our favorite hen. I go out to the coop to check on my girls and there is 'Bella' (my two year old named her) sitting in the corner. At first I thought she was choking, she had a brown liquid bubbling up in her beak and she was sort of tossing her head trying to get it out. I went to pick her up and the pressure of my hands on her crop cause her to spit out a bubble of brown stew. 

I massaged her crop for a minute - it felt swollen and full of liquid. She continued to spit out the brown stuff. As usual I ran in to google the problem. The diagnosis: Sour crop. 

I brought her inside and set her up in our entrance way in the big blue bin we always use to transfer chickens or to keep sick ones inside. 

It's cold here right now. Damn cold. The entrance way is freezing still, so I put a heater in the room to get the temperature up to at least 60F for her. 

Whenever I have a sick chicken for any reason at all, I put a healthy dose of real apple cider vinegar in their water. Not enough to deter them from drinking, but at least a few tablespoons per liter. Apple cider vinegar contains live cultures that help alkalize the body and help replenish the good bacteria that crowd out too much yeast. This is actually a true fact, not just some hippie herbal medicine talk. 

Because sour crop is actually a yeast infection in the crop, apple cider vinegar is good for preventing and helping to cure sour crop. It's a good idea to add a few tablespoons of vinegar to their water year round, but sometimes I don't always have it together and I forget.

Do not give a bird with sour crop any food. They need time to pass through what is already in there. Some sites say not to give water, but I think the water/vinegar mixture is important to help neutralize the yeast. 

The thing that I think helped my chicken get better both times she had this was to gently pick her up, step outside (this is important), flip her over onto her back and massage her crop. Watch your feet cause a lot of nasty brown liquid comes out very quickly as soon as you turn her over!

Gently turn the chicken on her back,
use your other hand to massage her crop
and encourage the liquid to come out

Watch out, this nasty brown stuff comes out pretty quick!
I did this maneuver at least once every hour for the first 3 or 4 hours after I brought her inside. The first 3 times a lot of liquid gurgled out. The 4th and 5th times just a little trickled out. Bella was clearly feeling better and was walking around the entrance way after about 4 hours. I kept her inside for one more day just to keep her warm and did the flipping maneuver a few more times to make sure all the liquid was out. 

I encouraged her to drink the vinegar water after she was feeling better. 

She was ready to go outside the next day and join the other ladies back in the coop.

I can see that if I had not noticed Bella acting sick that this could have killed her very quickly. With sour crop it is important that you take action right away and try to get the liquid out and a dose of vinegar in to neutralize the yeast. 

Adding some probiotics to the water, or giving your chicken some plain yogurt after she is feeling better will help boost the immune system and attempt to clear up any infection. 

Lastly, if you feed your chickens kitchen scraps you should keep a supply of grit available especially during the winter months. This helps them digest their food properly and may prevent sour crop. 


marisa dana said...

Thank you for your post. It was very useful. I do not know if the chick is out of the woods yet, but after the procedure when there was no more brown thing coming out, I left her in an individual cabby with water and apple cider vinegar. she is drinking a lot and has not moved from the water can. Thank you again, hopefully she will make it!

marisa dana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Thank you for this post! I am now not freaking out so bad about my poor baby being sick! Getting some apple cider vinegar now! Thank you thank you thank you!!!!

Unknown said...

HI, Thank you for the article. What is grit?

Kceymac said...

Thank you for the post! I have had chickens for quite a few years but this is my first time one of them had sour crop. Life has been super busy and I hope it didn't go too long before I noticed, the poor hen. Got a lot of the nasty stuff out of her and she's tucked into a nice little, warm nest with apple cider vinegar in her water nearby. Will check on her again before it gets dark. I have to say she is NOT happy with me as she doesn't like handled on a good day but she does seem a bit better (I think).

Irshad Khoja said...

Oyster shell or marble stone pieces of 3-5mm size is called grit. It is a source of calcium for laying hen. It also helps in grinding the feed particles in gizzard.

Crystal Cahill said...

Oyster shell is not grit and marble stone pieces do not Supply calcium.
The stone IS grit and is needed to grind their food because they don't have teeth. Oyster shell DOES provide calcium by dissolving once swallowed. It is too fragile to be used as grit. Laying chickens need to have access to both. Non-laying chickens (too young to lay) do not want shell because it can cause kidney problems.

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