Pendulous crop is an abnormal condition in chickens where the crop becomes distended from its normal position, and fills with ingested feed and fluid. This abnormal stretching of the crop damages the surrounding muscle layers, causing the elastin fibers that bind the muscle layers to break. Once damaged, these muscles can no longer push all the crop contents through to the proventriculus (the next stage of the gastrointestinal system). There are several negative implications for when this occurs:
- The contents within the crop essentially get stuck, which will stagnate and potentially ferment. This leads to a condition known as sour crop.
- The chicken is not able to absorb all the nutrients and has an increased risk of dehydration.
There are several different causes of pendulous crop in chickens, including:
- Excessive water intake
- Defects in the crop itself
- Consumption of coarse fibrous feed
- Partial blockage of the proventriculus or gizzard, resulting from crop impaction.
In some cases, pendulous crop is associated with Marek's disease or with high levels of parasite infestations.