Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Starving with a full crop

Cutie-Pie stands next to her enemy, a bale of straw!

Turns out Cutie-Pie's jerking and twisting WAS a sign of something potentially deadly. Pendulous crop, impacted crop or crop bound, depending on who you ask.
By the time we figured out what was wrong the only way to fix the problem was surgery. Whee.
So Jane took her in and the vet people removed QUANTITIES of straw and fermenting junk from her crop. When they got home Cutie-Pie was tired and very hungry--so hungry she tried to eat the waterer!
Today she gets strained oatmeal liquid and water, not the filling meal she desires but we have to give her crop time to shrink to normal size.
Currently she is moaning away in the mud room and squirting watery manure on our floor. "DDD, ddd, d, d, d..." She whines. Very obnoxious.
Poor Cutie-Pie.

To prevent this problem in your flock, avoid straw. If your flock has green vegetables available all year straw might work. Tough, fibrous grasses are a lot of trouble. Hay might be better since it has leaves (chickens would choose leaves over stems any day).

We hope this information saves your chickens from a lot of discomfort and saves you some money as well.


  1. Yikes! I see my hens eating straw sometimes. I feed them soft grass hay cut up if they do start eating straw. I use straw to get them moving in winter as they scratch around more with straw I find than shavings. However now I will have to rethink my straw use.

  2. Yes, straw can be quite dangerous.
    Keep an eye (or two) on your chickens and occasionally check for abnormally large crops and foul-smelling breath.
    Hopefully you will never have to deal with this nasty problem.

  3. I think you're probably okay with feeding them the hay, though as Amri suggested, just monitoring their crops from time to time is probably prudent. I think we didn't have enough grass/alfalfa hay available for them this winter (it being our first in a snowy place), and that if we'd had some just constantly available, they would have nibbled on the hay's leaves rather than the straw. That's just my guess. Folks here seem to provide alfalfa for their chickens during the winter as a matter of course, and (from the two people I've talked to about this), tend not to suffer this problem with their chickens (actually, they said they never experienced it. Hm.)

  4. Actually Jane that is what surprised me about this, I kept chickens from age 13 until 22 and the coop was big enough that I kept the straw bales in there with them, I never had this problem. However the hens back then did not seem to eat straw the way my hens do now, especially my bantam, she eats it all the time for some reason. Soon they can go outside so I'm going to cut back on the straw just in case. I'm so glad you warned us.


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