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By Alan Stanford, Ph.D.
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I Relied Upon Glenda L Heywood National Poultry News and
the The Chicken Health Handbook by Gail Damerow
Things that cause impacted crops are anything a bird eats that is too big to move into the digestive system. Some of these too big things are whole grain (especially for small birds), grapes, and greens. When free ranging birds eat greens they rip off small pieces and these pieces pass freely out of the crop. One way I caused impacted crops in our flock was letting the flock out on once long, freshly mown grass. They have no problem with long unmown grass because they can rip off little pieces. Long strands of fresh cut grass pile up in the gizzard and can’t get out.
You need to flush and empty an impacted crop. You can use an eyedropper, a syringe without a needle, or a child’s ear syringe. Be sure to put the dropper or syringe all the way back in the bird’s mouth. There is a hole at the base of the tongue that leads to the bird’s lungs. You must be way past that or you will damage your bird.
- 1/2-cup baking soda
- 1 pint of warm water
Fill the syringe and insert it as far as you can into the mouth of the chicken. Have someone hold the bird upright in front of you. Slowly and very gently fill the crop, do not over fill and get liquid into that hole at the base of the tongue. Gently press up under the chicken’s breast and slide your hand up to the crop. This makes the bird open its mouth and the impacted mess will come out the bird’s mouth. Push the contents up and out of the crop and out of the mouth. You can face the bird toward the ground to help empty the crop. Repeat this gentle stroking pressure until nothing comes up.
If there the crop is not empty, flush it again until it is empty.
Once the crop is empty, give another dropper of oil.
Coop the bird away from other birds so it can rest. Provide about a cup of water with 1 teaspoon terramycin dissolved in it. Give no feed.
Continue the terramycin for 7 days to avoid secondary infection.
After 24 hours, give only soft food for a week or so. This lets the inflamed and irritated crop recover and prevents another impaction.
The soft diet can include crumbles and chopped hard-boiled or microwaved eggs. You can feed bread if it is soaked in milk or buttermilk. Buttermilk is especially good because active culture buttermilk has good bacteria in it that help the bird’s digestion.
Be sure to also give the bird some beneficial bacteria. They keep digestion going correctly and fight disease by crowding out disease bacteria. You can just mix 1-2 teaspoons per bird of ACTIVE culture yogurt with a small amount of food and give this as the only food until they eat it. You can also buy lactobacillus at health food stores, pharmacies, Wal-Mart, and Lake’s Unlimited 800-634-2473.
Give no grains, no large pellets, no not soaked bread, and no grass or greens because these can cause another impaction. Feed only things that almost fall apart when wet.
Glenda Heywood likes to feed this for the week
- 1 slice wheat bread
- 1/2-cup buttermilk
- 3 tablespoons active culture yogurt with no artificial sweetener
- Babyfood (or unsweetened) apple sauce (as Barb recommends below).
Adding oil to the food will help avoid another impaction. Cod liver or wheat germ oil are good because they provide vitamins A, D, and E. Only add about 2% of the feed’s weight.
“This works for sour crop, too. In fact, when we’re hand-feeding parrots, we always add some baby food applesauce to the formula to prevent sour crop. Works great! With all the parrots I’ve hand-fed over the years, I’ve never had a case of sour crop. I specify baby food applesauce because it doesn’t have any added sugar which just aggravates the problems.”
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