Last night while doing my nightly Chicken chores. My hubby points out a hen looking “not normal”. She had an enormous crop and not just crop her whole chest was completely swollen. Now, the hen seemed unfazed as she was still engaging in a vigorous round of tug a war with another hen over some “chicken scrapes” I had put out. As I made my way over to the “abnormal” hen, I could actually smell her before I could reach her. It was foul! I picked her up by her legs and a brown, incredibly nasty, liquid started to run from her beak. The liquid smelled worse than she did, if at all possible. I have never seen such a condition in chickens before and I had no clue if it was some contagious disease. So being as my chickens are for the purpose of egg production and meat, I felt that the nasty smelling critter had best be culled! I will spare you of those nasty details as it was was not a pretty sight!
After cleaning up and coming back inside, I did what I usually do in these situations; I called Lauren. She too was stumped. So I did some research, and this is where I found sour crop! It is described as,
“A chicken having a large squishy balloon like crop, where a blockage of some kind has caused a build-up of food and fluid that starts to ferment and fungus can start to from. You may smell or hear gases escaping the chicken. ” (They are not kidding)
The cause of Sour Crop can be improper emptying of the crop, recent antibiotic use, a fungal infection or worms.
Treatment can be very difficult as it is usually fatal. Although caught soon enough antibiotics can work if the underlying cause is addressed.
Unfortunately I didn’t have the foresight to come grab a camera to better document the situation, but I will tell you it is quite unmistakable…the smell will give it away.