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.