BIG CROP ON CHICK - WORRIED

I've read about impacted crops. Not sure if my 10 day old chick has one. It's big, mushy, and is always the same size. Seems like it never empties. She is eating and drinking. She eats the pine shavings so I put down paper towels. She is pooping regularly. Should I be worried that it seems like it never empties? She is with 3 other chicks.

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THE CHICKEN CROP
by: Sharon

It sounds more like a situation of Sour Crop, which can cause similar problems to Impacted Crop. Both are life threatening to a chicken of any age.

When crop contents feel mushy, but don't seem to be emptying, there could be a problem. You don't say how the chick is acting, which is one of the best indicators for this kind of problem. Soured crop contents can make them act ill. BUT it's very good to notice things like this early and do something to help, before the chick or chicken is in trouble.

Good on removing the shavings. They could possibly cause a blockage preventing the liquefied crop contents from moving on through the digestive system.

But if these chicks are in a brooder with a light, there is a chance the crops will never totally empty, as chicks will get up through the night, eat & drink, which is good for them - unless they over eat.

If this chick doesn't seem to have any signs of distress or illness, you might remove the food - not the water - over night and see if this one's crop does empty. If not you should consider turning this one upside down and milking out as much of the crop contents as you can. You can always skip right to milking out the crop contents, if you believe the contents are old and sour.

An Impacted Crop feels hard due to lack of moisture. This is likely to happen if chickens have processed feed or grains available, but run out of water. Being too thick or dry, the crop contents can also sour, being too slow to leave the crop.

In both of these cases, Sour or Impacted crop, a good step would be to withhold food and only give access to water with cider vinegar, possibly as long as 24 hours, if the condition doesn't change much. Allowing the crop to empty over night is an important step an creating a good environment for foods to break down and be digested normally.

Some chicks are little piggies and eat more than they need to, more than their bodies can process well & fast enough. This can lead to food staying in the crop longer than is healthy & turning sour - meaning over abundance of bacteria & possibly yeasts.

Adding raw apple cider vinegar, about 1 tbsp to a pint of their drinking water, can help with good crop health.

One other issue with Slow & Sour Crop problems is heat. If chicks aren't kept warm enough - around 100 degrees F and descending weekly as they grow and feather, this can prevent good digestion, too. Adding green leafy veggies to their diet, even clean grass clippings can help, but avoid fruits because the sugar can feed yeast in the crop.

Once chicks no longer need a brooder and/or there is no light at night they will usually settle in and their crops should empty by morning naturally. If this chick continues to have the problem, after removing crop contents, you should consider removing the food over night and just let them have water to help rinse out the crop until morning - especially if still in a brooder with light.

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