"I have a one year old spotted sussex that seems to be ill this afternoon. Her gizzard (chest) seems quite full and enlarged. She seems to have a little trouble walking and is refusing to leave the hen house. The bird is moving her head from side to side as if trying to swallow. I placed her in a separate cage where she did eat, but still is moving very little. There are no visible signs of injury but she has a small bare circle on her chest as a result of pecking. Any ideas that might help? Thanks!"
People often suspect
something is wrong with a chick or chicken if their crop is full. In
the case of chicks or juvenile birds this is usually normal as they
will eat quite a bit during this fast growth period. It often
happens with full grown chickens as well and is usually normal as long
as they all have the same sized bulge. You shouldn't worry unless
one chicken has a much larger crop than the rest, or the chicken is
acting "funny" indicating distress.
If the crop is "hard" to
the touch, the
crop could be impacted. This happens when feed is "stuck" in the
crop and the chicken can't "swallow" or pass the feed on down to the
proventriculous and gizzard.
How it happens:
I have been raising
poultry for over 30 years and could not bring myself to get that
drastic. Surgery (which this is) is serious and best left to
professionals. We have never had this problem with any of our
birds but have found the following treatment in several references and
would certainly try it before resorting to surgery which should be done
by a veterinarian.
If you suspect impacted
crop, administer two eye-droppers full of mineral oil (NOT MINERAL
by forcing an eye-dropper down the chickens gullet, and massage the hard lump between your fingers to
it up and help her pass it. Repeat if necessary the following
day. If the crop remains hard and the chicken appears distressed,
then you may resort to the above treatment or take it to a vet.
The above graphic and some of this material is taken from Gail Damerow's "Chicken Health Handbook", (used with permission from Storey Publishing). This book is an invaluable reference for anyone raising poultry and is available at a discount here on our Poultry Books Page.