Sick Chicken With Sour Crop

by Veronica W.
(San Diego County)


Sick chicken with sour crop: We recently purchased a small flock of chickens. Their approximate age is 11 weeks old.

One in particular, our Rhode Island Red came to us with runny stools. We tried tetracylcine. It didn't work.

She now seems uninterested in food. Pecks only occasionally and makes this weird stretching motion with her neck as her neck goes from side to side.

Her neck seems to be tucked into her breast which also seems to be swollen. Any ideas of what this may be?

It’s possible that the tetracycline created a sour crop. I think you are saying her neck/breast area is swollen.

The crop is located at the bottom of the neck at the top right of the breast. If you feel that area and it feels rubbery hard, not mushy, her crop probably is soured.

That means the digestion of the food in her crop has ceased and could be rotting. A solution of about 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar and ½ cup of warm water might help, if you can get her to drink it.

If not, offer it at her beak with an eye dropper or small spoon and get her to swallow as much as you can. Then massage the lump.

That should break up the hardness. You need to hold the chicken upside down and get as much of the sour material from the crop, by gently massaging and working it out her mouth.

This soured food is of no use to her and has clogged the start of her digestive tract. This is life threatening.

If the material is left in it can ulcerate the crop and make a hole through her skin. Without being able to eat, she won’t make it.

It’s so difficult to know for sure if this is the problem. I can only make a guess based on all you have said.

If this is a sour crop, once emptied, you need to give her some good bacteria to kick start her digestion.

You can use live culture yogurt and mix about ¼ cu and warm (hot will kill the good bacteria in the yogurt) water and mix in some of her regular feed. She may need some grit to keep her crop working.

It’s possible she had the beginnings of this problem when you got her. Sour crop causes a fungal infection in the crop and this may have caused her diarrhea.

Try to avoid antibiotics unless you are sure of the problem you are treating. Diarrhea can have many causes including the stress of moving, change in feed and water, along with a host of other problems.

While nursing her back to health it would be good to give her natural apple cider vinegar in her water, about 1 tbsp per pint.

There are live enzymes in the vinegar that can help with digestion and re-balancing her system, including killing the fungal infection.

The fungal infection, if not cured, can cause a wasting disease. The fungus absorbs the nutrients robbing this chicken of what she needs to be healthy.

If unable to cure this at home you may need a prescription that only a vet could provide. I hope this helps.

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