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Crop Impaction

Impacted Crop, Crop Binding

Crop impactions occur when there is an interference with the normal functioning of the chicken's crop. This is usually related to the presence of indigestible foreign substance(s) which result in the partial or complete blockage of passage of food. Substances which may cause this include:
  • String (crafts, hay bale twine, artificial grass, carpets, etc.)
  • Long blades of grass (ornamental or pasture/yard variety)
  • Feathers
  • Skins from certain fruits (banana, persimmons, etc.)
  • Bedding or ground litter (straw, wood chips, mulch, shavings)
  • Misc plastic or metal objects
Crops impactions can also occur secondary if birds are having muscular contraction issues, since these contractions are what controls the normal movement of food through the crop. Some forms of Marek's disease are known to cause muscular contraction issues, specifically related to crop functioning.

Treatment for Crop Impactions


Treatment depends on the cause, the health status of the bird (why early discovery of this condition is ideal), and severity of the impaction. Trauma to the gastrointestinal tract often occurs as a secondary result of ingestion of foreign objects. For example, there were several cases where chickens who had ingested baling net wrap lost their tongues from ischemic necrosis. Others developed secondary septicemia and airsacculitis. When treatment is delayed, the condition rapidly worsens and leads to secondary infections, starvation, dehydration, and death.

Clinical Signs

Enlarged crop
Crop fails to empty
Reduced appetite
Increased thirst
Inactivity
Pasted vent
Twisting neck from side to side
Open-mouth breathing
Foul odor from mouth
Smelly watery vomit
Depression

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam

Treatment

NameSummary
Gentle messageGently message the chicken's crop.
Isolate patient from other members of the flock.
Provide supplemental warmth and a low-stress, quite environment. Call your veterinarian.
Adding magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) in the water and liquid molasses in the feedChristensen NH
SurgeryPerformed by your veterinarian, to remove the foreign body causing the impaction.

Support

Prevention

  • Provide birds free access to grit
  • Keep the grass mowed regularly, and make sure to remove any grass clippings and prevent the birds from accessing.
  • Always provide birds with plenty of fresh, clean water to drink.
  • Do not allow chickens access to any objects such as metal, plastic, strings, etc. even feathers which could be hazardous.
  • Do not allow chickens access to composts.

Prognosis

Outlook is good if treated early, as soon as symptoms are noticed.

Scientific References

Good Overviews

Blogs

Age Range

Young birds are especially vulnerable since their gizzards are still developing.

Risk Factors

  • Allowing chickens access to grass clippings.
  • Feeding dried oatmeal and soybeans, as they swell when they absorb water which can impact the crop.
  • Feeding chickens a poor quality diet, making them crave ingestion of materials they wouldn't normally eat.
  • Leaving potentially hazardous objects where chickens can access them.