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Mama Red’s Troubles With Her Crop (and Recovery)


By Tania McGuire

Peers, Alberta, Canada


I’m thinking before I get into this article I will state: In the event you are closing your flock (no more new birds introduced to your flock unless desperately needed) you would be wise to learn how to save those birds that may have meaning to your breeding plans.

I have found there are so many problems your birds can get, and there are also a lot of problems that can be fixed. Why lose those precious birds? But then again there is a time to say, “Enough suffering, I’ll let you go!” This is the lesson I have most surely learned, and has contributed most greatly to the growth of my soul.

The following isn’t exactly a story, but a report that was done for future referencing of care taking. This may also help someone else, and please call me if you ever need additional info that may not be covered in this article, as I will always try to help.

A large watery crop made Mama Red get treated for everything possible in the last six months, yet the crop remained full of fluid and souring. The size of the crop seemed to reduce the time that she brooded and raised her offspring. It would seem to always return to an extremely large watery condition after the young matured. Though the hen seemed to always stay content despite her overly large crop.

I would make her empty the remains in her crop by forcing her to vomit; otherwise she may have drowned herself with the continual souring and engorgement of her crop.

On one occasion I tried mineral oil soaked up in bread, it did nothing to relieve her. Later I tried an Epsom salt flush. The excess fluid disappeared but there was still a small mass that remained, though it seemed too small to cause any problems, and she was once again returned to her family.

I then read about crop worms, so at this point she was given a shot of Ivomec (Ivermectin). No results after a week or two. Later, after hearing thrush could be the problem, I was able to obtain some copper sulfate. She was given the copper sulfate in water along with 1 teaspoon of yogurt daily to replace the microflora. Still no improvement. The crop kept gorging and she was assisted with the evacuation of excess fluid as needed.



After all this the only thing left to try was surgery. She was still in good weight and had a good appetite, so now would be the time to try the surgery, before she lost condition.

DVM David Holroyd of the Edson Veterinary Clinic in Edson, Alberta performed surgery on The 28th of December 2001.

A small area on her crop was shaved. A local was given in the crop. Mama Red was restrained by myself in an upright position. Her feet were restrained together in one of my hands while the other was holding her in this upright “penguin” position. (If there’s a next surgery, the wings need to be bound somehow).

The incision was made and a mass of extremely sour contents flowed out. Through all this Mama Red did not seem stressed at all. A mass of straw was removed, though this did not seem like enough to have caused any great problem. She was stitched up and an iodine solution was washed over the surgery site. Her weight was taken and she was given a shot of Spectam antibiotic. Procedure done. . . And now for the hopeful recovery I had been waiting for.


Mama Red was alert and hungry after the procedure.

DAY 1: Her diet was runny baby food (pabulum) with nutripet (a tiny dab added to the pabulum) Her water had Mineralytes Plus (an electrolyte solution) and 1 teaspoon of yogurt two times daily.

DAY 2: Fed approx. 2 tablespoon of thick soupy pabulum every three hours. Bird consuming an excess amount of water. Color in comb and wattles comes and goes. She begins to sing, Crop is still watery and quite large (swollen from surgery??).

Bird continues same diet until day 7. The food was thickened with oatmeal gradually. Bird is extremely hungry and her stool is watery. On this day I introduced a tiny bit of layer crumbles. Also second injection of Spectam antibiotic. When the hen would rest she would gasp a bit, unsure why, yet it almost ceased after her diet changed to more chicken food. (layer crumbles)

DAY 10: The yogurt was discontinued. Bird was extremely hungry until I made gradual change from soft food to crumbles. Stool also firmed up. The crop at this time in the AM though empty is still puffy and watery and not feeling very large – about the size of a large plum. My thoughts on this are were that the crop had been distended for such a long period of time that muscle tone had been lost, and needs to be shrunk by many small meals and not let her overload on food until the crop returns to normal.

DAY 12: The hen could now be trusted not to over gorge herself with a full bowl of crumble in front of her (crumbles aren’t as tasty, I guess)

DAY 14: In the AM her crop is still staying small with just slight scars of the surgery to be felt. Her stool are solid and normal, her color is back in her comb and wattles. She is still gasping every so often, still unsure why?? Usually when resting – usually doesn’t seem to be a concern. At this point, Jan. 11. 2002, I would say her surgery was 100% success.

DAY 25: Mama Red has started to lay eggs again – there is no more gasping.

** Also note: This bird is in the warmth of my house in a hospital cage in which she has no way of eating bedding or coming into contact with her fecal matter.

THANK YOU to Doc and my friend Laura Jackson!!

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