…I feel like a rotten Chicken Mommy right now. For several weeks my girls have taken turns with the dreaded ‘sour crop’. For those who don’t know that term, it’s fairly common but even worse when you don’t feed properly; which I didn’t. Mostly, it is caused from the birds going to bed with a very – full crop and it not emptying properly through the night. Digestion slows at night-time, so if they eat a big hearty meal prior to bed, it can encourage spoilage in the crop and they get the sour crop.
Lemme tell you, it is no fun. I imagine it’s no fun for the birds either. They sort of swish and gurgle as they walk, and the breath smells foul. You can hear the fluid in the crop swishing and they gurgle; which sounds like blowing air bubble noise under water. It’s pretty disgusting sounding.
Then there’s the bottom end of the business. The sick hen will get poop matted in the feathers and make a big ole’ drippy mess. It needs washed off. Sorry… No short cut here.
I’d been watching one of the Bard Rock hens, who was not acting quite right; for about three days. She was listless and nodded a lot, snoozing. Not like her at all. Her normal feisty temperament was clearly off. While not being very friendly, she was still a bright happy bird. Now she was pretty blah and I easily caught her.
I stuck the bird under my armpit backwards and sprayed the hose at her business end. The water was warm from the sun and it was a very long hose. Otherwise, I’d suggest you use warm water, dish pan and an expendable rag. Do this outside the pen away from the other hens, so no cross-contamination occurs. They don’t really seem to mind the process too much. The warm water actually relaxes them a lot.
She then went into the “Out Back”; which is what I call the separation pen. Suspicious acting birds go there. Given clean bottom end, water and food and bedding, she was ready to get better. Of course she didn’t eat and she wasn’t exactly happy about anything. I took the food out of the pen and began putting a smaller bowl of yogurt and layer mash which had been wet down. I also put in a bowl tiny torn pieces of bread mixed with olive oil. She did peck at that a little at both so I kept those available for her.
I massaged her crop daily checking for the squishy feel and if it was full of ‘stuff’. I noticed her sling her own head down a few times and what was inside was forced out. I didn’t know a chicken could clear their own crop… It was liquid. It smelled pretty nasty. OK, it was gross…
For the next three days, the little Bard Rock hen was given liquid yogurt, by syringe; about 3 ml every morning. By the third day she actually fed herself the yogurt when I presented it to her. Whew, much better!
She’s been puny for about five days now, but she’s on the mend and is actually eating her layer mash/yogurt mixture alone now.
Did you notice the bird in something ? I had to stick her in the sleeve of a denim shirt. The only thing poking out was her neck and head. But, it kept her peaceful and she didn’t struggle. Actually, I was amazed at how calm she was during the whole process. When you work with a hen one-on-one, they tend to understand you are trying to help them. I’m not sure why, but they do seem to have a sense of knowing, which I never would have attached to a chicken; before.
I highly recommend this if you are doing the doctoring alone, without anyone to secure the bird.
This morning she seems way better and is eating whatever gets poked at her. We are going slowly at the reintroduction of foods. Right now the cultured yogurt and mash seem to be making her happy.
Her breath no longer stinks and she’s not “leaking” fluid. Her bottom is happy again without the mucky bottom.
So, I’ll end here with saying, this is one big lesson learned and I won’t be over feeding my hens anymore!
And I’ll call this post, – Things You Learn Later