The crop, or craw, of a chicken rests just below its neck right in the center of the chest. This is the place a chicken’s food is stored after ingestion and is the place where digestion begins. Sometimes, after a chicken has consumed beyond their ability to digest, a sour crop develops.
Symptoms And Detection
It is simple enough to detect when a chicken is dealing with sour crop because an obvious bulge in the chest is noticeable. This bulge is typically about the size of a golf ball and causes discomfort for the fowl. The chicken often moves its head in an unusual manner in and attempt to dislodge it. Upon opening the beak, a sour odor is present. Touching the crop yields a hard yet spongy feel and that means that sour crop may be in the making if it is not already full-blown. Complicating matters more is the fact that even though the chicken may appear lethargic it will continue pecking at and ingesting additional food even though its crop is full.
Preventing Sour Crop
It is important to keep a watchful eye out for this condition in chickens because the crop is a vital organ for their survival. Since chickens are inclined to eat anything in sight, sour crop will occur. It is natural for the crop to bulge as chickens feed. However, this bulge should disappear over time, especially when food is not available. If this does not happen, there may be something amiss with their digestive mechanism. To help with digestion, grit should be added to the diet and this can be purchased at any poultry or farm supply store. The grit is simply mixed with chicken feed to aid in the digestion process.
Healthy foraging chickens in natural settings typically ingest small pebbles as they feed and they know which ones to choose. The problem arises when they are not allowed out of their pens for extended periods of time and miss out on these digestive aids. Common among animals is the natural tendency to choose certain grasses for specific illnesses. Chickens with sour crop will on their own forage on grass when it is available, but that complicates the illness because long strands can make it harder to digest.
Prevention is always the best way to deal with sour crop in chickens. The best way to prevent it is to check the chickens every morning to determine if their crop is sufficiently empty from the previous day’s feeding. Also, observe the type of grass the chickens are feeding on and keep it chopped down into smaller, more digestible sizes, then feed this to your chickens. This procedure can help treat sour crop and prevent future occurrences.
Once each month, make a mixture of one teaspoon apple cider vinegar with each liter of your chicken’s water supply. Make sure to buy the vinegar from a farm supply store rather than the supermarket.
Induce vomiting in an affected chicken by holding it upside down. Gently massage the crop to help release the stacked up food. Allow the chicken to rest periodically during this process to prevent liquid from getting into the respiratory system or choking. Feed the chicken a mixture of chopped grass, apple cider treated water and pellets. Repeat if necessary until the chicken gets relief.