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Impacted Crop

Crop Impaction, Crop Binding

An impacted crop is a serious condition in chickens in which there is a blockage preventing food from moving past the crop. This may be caused by the presence of a foreign body blocking the passage of food (such as string/plastic or long grass or plant material), or occur secondary as a result of problems with the muscular contractions (which is how food is able to move through the bird's digestive system). Problems with muscular contractions has known to occur in some forms of Marek's disease.

When treatment is delayed, the condition rapidly worsens and leads to infection and starvation.

Clinical Signs

Enlarged crop w/ dough-like consistency
Firm, hard crop
Crop fails to empty
Loss in appetite
Increased thirst
Pasted vent
Twisting neck from side to side
Open-mouth breathing
Foul odor from mouth
Smelly watery vomit


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam


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.
SurgeryPerformed by your veterinarian.


  • Store feed properly, in a closed container and in a cool, dry location. Discard old or moldy feed
  • Regularly rotate placement of the waterer and feeder
  • Always be sure to allow your flock free access to grit at all times
  • Remove mowed grass prior to introducing poultry to area
  • Always provide birds with plenty of fresh, clean water


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

Scientific References

Good Overviews


Age Range

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

Risk Factors

  • Fluctuating weather conditions such as sudden cold, wet or heat spells
  • Allowing chickens access to grass clippings, tall grassy areas, bark and plant mulches, composts, decaying table scraps, potting mixes, damp straw or hay, or moldy/decaying feed
  • Feeding chickens food substances that are difficult for them to digest (potatoes, beets, apple skins, etc.).
  • Feeding dried oatmeal and soybeans, as they swell when they absorb water which can impact the crop.