A few days ago while taking treats out to the girls I noticed what I thought was a lump on the right side of Margaret’s chest. I didn’t think much of it and we’re trying not to be helicopter, over-protective, new parents! However, the lump was quite large and noticeable this evening and we got concerned. Tumor? Parasite? Pimple?
Off to backyardchickens.com and google to investigate. The symptoms match exactly what is known as crop impaction. The crop is the first part of the digestive tract that slowly supplies food to the rest of the digestive tract. The crop will be full if a chicken has recently eaten but should be empty by morning. If the bird eats too much long grass or other material that doesn’t pass easily, it builds up and compacts. (Margaret is a bit of a pig and eats everything in sight voraciously!) In serious cases crop impaction can require surgery. Not crazy about taking a $5 chicken to the vet…
So, what to do? Our first course of action is to separate her from the others and from food for a day to see if she’ll pass the contents. She’ll have plenty of water and we’ve made chick grit available for her as well. We’re feeding her small amounts of bread soaked in olive oil for lubrication. Massaging the crop to help break up the compaction is also part of the remedy. It feels very strange to us to do this, but it doesn’t seem to cause her any pain; it just kind of annoys her!
She’s sleeping in her own little box in the garage right now. We’ll let you know what happens over the next few days.
Aw, man. Best of luck. We know all about chicken crises. They always seem to come out of nowhere – on day, all is well. The next day, chickens are dying or escaping or flying over fences or turning up with mysteriously bloody beaks. Keep us posted!
No kidding! She is doing fine today. We’ll keep an eye on her but for now, crisis averted!!
One of our girls, Greta, had an impacted crop shortly after we got her. It was devastating. Our farmer friend came over, turned her upside down, and flushed her crop with a water-filled syringe. It saved her life. She had eaten a bunch of grass and what looked like a piece of carrot or something. Anyway, she stopped laying for 8 MONTHS after that! She almost ended up in the soup pot this spring, but I’m happy to report she’s laying and healthy and happy now.
Wow. Glad Greta recovered! I read about that treatment for an impacted crop all the way up to home surgery. Not sure I could do the latter though. She seems to fill her crop up significantly more than the other two birds, I’ve noticed over the last few days. It seems to go down over night so apparently everything is moving through her. She is never listless and continues to drink. Maybe it’s just the way she is.