Dealing with Sour Crop

As mentioned the other day, I have a baby chick with some crop issues. On Thursday I noticed this particular one had a very puffy chest, it felt like a water balloon below her neck and I panicked, called the breeder who informed me I needed to add apple cider vinegar to her water and hopefully that should resolve it. But, being me..I knew that I needed to know everything about this issue and deal with it head on. One thing I have learned about myself over the years is that I am a researcher, a thinker, a person curious for more knowledge and when I stumble upon an issue like this, where I am unsure of myself or how to deal with it, I research it, gain knowledge on the subject and prepare myself for any/all scenarios. What I found through my research was that sour crop is a common ailment that affects chickens - especially in growers or those fed hay & grass and, while it is a serious problem, it can be treated effectively at home with a few simple methods.

Now, if you google the treatment of sour crop, you will notice there are 2 distinct sides to its treatment..vomit, or don't vomit. Some websites are all about helping your chick throw up the food stuck in its crop while others are very against even the idea of it. Me? I don't know..when I hear something could be fatal, I'm very cautious..BUT, that being said, I'm also desperate to make the situation better and not worse. So this is what I did:

Day 1 (Thursday): Isolated my chick to her own brooder box, not because she's infectious but because I wanted to remove food from her diet, watch her water intake, make sure she was pooping frequently and also to give her space to rest and get better. She was drinking a lot, very alert, pooping like crazy and wanting to eat. I took these all as good signs but her crop was still very enlarged so I took her out and massaged her crop for 20 minutes and then convinced my husband to hold her upside down to see if any vomit would come out - and nothing happened. We tried about 4-5 times to see what would happen...and nothing
Day 2 (Friday): Woke up to find my baby still doing very well but still had quite the bulge. She needed fresh water so I moved her to the regular brooder while I freshened up her space and while she was there, went crazy for the food!! And again, crop was a very large bubble. But I separated her immediately, massaged her crop for 1/2 hr and then put her back in to her brooder with ACV water and let her rest. A few hours later I came back in and massaged her crop again for another 1/2 hour. I knew this must have felt amazing because she would snuggle right in and fall fast asleep as soon as I would massage it. While massaging, I could feel grit and food in her crop and would notice little bubbles that would sometimes make her burb (further confirmation of sour crop) and put her back in to rest.
Day 3 (Saturday): Woke up and was scared to see what I would find...went down to her brooder and...she was back to normal! Not allowing new food allowed her crop to heal and get the fermented food down to the rest of her system. But, to err on the side of caution, I am keeping her isolated for now just to give her enough time to fully heal before reintroducing her to food and the other chicks. But, as per my google research, I fed her a tablespoon of plain probiotic yogurt and she ate it right up! This will be easy for her crop to process and will give her nutrients she needs while also providing healthy cultures to help rid her of the fermented food in her crop. I did notice that her crop went up again after she ate but this is a normal occurence for chickens during the day while they eat and I will continue to monitor her for another day or two to see what happens. So far, so good though!
Day 4 (Today): This morning I went & checked on my baby and although she had a little ball in her crop - I felt she had made an amazing recovery! I put her in with the other chicks and, of course, she went straight for the food! I knew she was hungry but I am still very cautious. When I lifted her up she had a very hard ball of food in her crop, which worried me, so I massaged her til she fell asleep and put her back in isolation, just to see if she processes this food on her own. So far, so good!!



Now, all birds are different. Some will have puffy chests/crops (as does this little lady above) but there is a huge difference in a healthy crop and one that is enlarged. If they are experiencing crop issues, you will know by the distinct bubble that will exist on their right hand side of the breast bone. It will feel like a water balloon and although I don't know if it is painful for them, it can be fatal if not taken care of. At this time, I am super relieved to see such progress in my little girl but am hesitant to get too excited just yet. I won't be fully confident until she is 100% better and able to eat and process her food normally. And the craziest part of all of this? I didn't even know what a chicken crop was til 3 days ago!! Amazing what you can learn in just a few days..


  1. Hey Dawn! Where's your old blog? I like this new one....and guess what?...just tonight we were asked if we were interested in taking some young chicks...I think we're going to do it (as long as our township allows it).....four of them. :)

    Glad you got the crop/bubble issue worked out with yours. Can I ask you a question? soon can you tell if it's a rooster or a hen?

    1. Hey Denise!!
      I decided my blog needed to be updated to better reflect my life, I'm glad to hear you like this one :) I'm so excited for you to have chickens! They truly are a joy to have around..I love mine so much!
      You will be able to differentiate between a hen or a rooster at 6 weeks (sucks because by then you are already attached to all of them!) I recently pinned on Pinterest a tip to tell early by looking at their pin feathers when they start growing by day 2 or 3..apparently if it looks like there is just one row of feathers it is a rooster. If there are 2 layers, its a hen!

  2. Thanks!! I checked out your Pinterest board and I'm going to check the row (or hopefully two) of feathers....or ask my daughter to check. :)


Thank you so much for your sweet comments!! I appreciate hearing from you, have a great day!

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