Attention! This is a potentially life-threatening condition for your bird and/or flock. Time is of the essence, contact your veterinarian immediately.Find me a Vet

Impacted Crop

Crop Impaction, Crop Binding

Impacted Crop Overview

An impacted crop is a serious condition in chickens in which there is a blockage preventing food from moving past the crop. There are two main reasons for this to occur, either there is a foreign body blocking the passage of food such as string/plastic or long grass or it can develop due to a problem with the muscular contractions which is not able to move the food through the bird's digestive system. This has been known to occur in chicken's with Marek's disease.

When treatment is delayed, the condition rapidly deteriorates as a result of fermentation of the contaminated material within the crop. Death can occur within 2-3 days from heart failure as a result of toxemia, dehydration 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
  • Radiographs


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.
SurgeryMay be required, which should only be performed 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.