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Crop problems in poultry
# this article is the author’s opinion only. It should be used only as a guide to treatment.
If unable to treat the bird yourself, or for follow up, it is recommended that you take it to an Avian Specialist Veterinarian.
Signs = a big soft/spongy feeling crop and an ‘off’ vile smelling bird breath.
Sour crop happens when a bird gets a blockage in the base of the crop going into the proventriculus.
It can take many days after the blockage before you notice the crop bulging and sometimes nearly dragging on the ground.
When you pick up the bird and put pressure on the crop you will notice a rotten 'fermenting' smell coming from the bird.
The bird may have lost a lot of weight since the blockage as it would not have absorbed any nutrients.
Often the bird will be poor in weight and health. There are a couple of options about to what to do.
Wrap the bird up in a towel to make it is secure so it does not scratch you.
Get a 20ml syringe and fill with warm water - test on your wrist - if you can just feel the warmth it is right.
Place a piece of thin clear tubing about 15cm long over the end of the syringe (get tubing from a Vet).
Hold the head of the bird in your left hand gently but securely and open the bird’s beak and hold it open.
Gradually slide this tubing down into the bird’s crop. Make sure you get the big hole at the back of the neck and not the little one near the tongue to the airsacks. You should be able to feel the tubing in the crop.
Very slowly empty the warm water into the crop and withdraw the tubing.
Massage the crop for a while trying to break up the contents in the crop.
When it feels broken up make sure that the bird is securely wrapped and up end it over a bucket or sink.
Gradually make it vomit by massaging the crop. Allowing the bird a 'breather' between vomits, so that it doesnt suffocate.
The bird should vomit up all the contents of the crop. If not, repeat the process filling the crop with warm water. Leave the bird half an hour, then massage and up end again doing this till the crop is empty.
Be very careful that it does not take any vomited fluid down into the airsacks. That will create other major issues such as inhalation pneumonia.
It is not always the pneumonia that kills them but the bacteria that went into the airsacks in the vomited liquid that does.
Once the crop is totally empty, and you are sure there is nothing left in it, I mean not even a grain of seed left =
You now need to give either Nilstat or Mycostatin drops. You buy these from the chemist for oral thrush in babies.
Give a dose of 1ml three times daily for 3 days and then once daily until day 7.
You can also give Tylan injectable or Baytril 50 for a week, to help protect against any complications. Ask your Vet for this.
Do not give the bird fresh water for 6 hours. The next morning you need to check the crop again. If it appears there is still sour crop or blockage = go to impacted crop instructions below and follow how to open up the crop. If the bird is fine you can give it liquids only for the first 24 hours. A Broccoli broth with a teaspoon of olive oil and plenty of water to drink is good.
You need to check in the first 36hrs after vomiting that it is pooping well as you are trying to flush the toxins out of the body and so you know that there isn't a blockage still there.
After 24 hours and for the next week offer the bird only soft foods = mashed banana, sweet potato, puréed fruit and plenty of good natural yoghurt with all the good acidophilus in it. Or alternately = Inner Health Plus – 1 capsule broken into the first feed of the day. Also make sure all food is very moist.
After a week of intensive care you can put the bird back on a normal diet.
Supply the bird plenty of fine grit and gravel in a separate container as the bird needs to be able to grind up hard food again.
It may be a few weeks before it is able to go back in with the other birds unsupervised as it has been away and they all need
to get used to each other again.
which is also used for
Signs of an impacted crop:-
Feels hard and distended, head jerking, refusing to move.
You can try the same treatment recommended for sour crop but instead of warm water use olive oil.
Personally with an impacted crop I have found it a waste of time.
You will need –
Sedative (from your Vet), 20ml syringe, sharp sterile scalpel, bent tip sterile tweezers, gauze, fine sterile needle, fishing line or sutures, Betadine or alcohol swabs, a towel to hold the bird in, sterile saline solution.
(To make saline 9gms salt to 1 litre boiling water stir to mix and let cool to room temperature), rubber gloves, a bright desk lamp and a bucket.
This method of treatment is not for the faint hearted.
Wrap your bird firmly in a towel but so the crop (and head) is exposed.
Sedate your bird. Wait to allow enough time for the sedative to work, your Vet will advise this.
Cut the feathers off the crop about ¾ of the way up the crop. Making sure that you cut a fairly big area of feathers away.
Then have a good look at the crop, “Have you forgotten something?”
Put your glasses on, or a pair of slightly magnifying ones as it is much easier to see using them.
With the aid of the magnifying glasses you are looking for blood vessels.
Find an area that is fairly clear of vessels, wipe this area very well with your alcohol swab or Betadine.
Using your sterile scalpel make a cut across the crop about 1 inch long. When you cut, you need to cut firmly and steadily
as you have the skin, muscle and crop to cut.
With this is done, open the crop with your tweezers and pull up one side of the crop so you can hold it in your gloved fingers to keep it open.
Get your bucket between your knees. I sit close up to a table with the bucket pinned between the knees and the table and the lamp up close for good light.
You need to pull all the contents out of the crop with the tweezers slowly and gently until you think the crop is empty.
Fill the syringe with warm saline solution, put the syringe into the hole in the crop and fill the crop with saline.
Massage the crop from the bottom upwards towards the hole you have made, work the solution out of the hole into the bucket.
Repeat until the solution comes out totally clear. Remember to massage from the bottom of the crop up.
This will dislodge anything at the base of the crop.
The entire procedure could take 30 minutes, so be prepared to spend the time.
Once the solution is clear and you are sure there is nothing in the crop and all fluid is out = using the gauze wipe all the ‘muck’ off the bird and dry the outside of the crop.
You are now ready to stitch the bird up.
Using either suture material or needle and fishing line.
Option 1 - stitch the crop up, each stitch you do must be tied separately and you will need around 7 to close the crop.
Option 2 - stitch the crop in one continuous thread using fine fishing wire and leaving a long section at both the top and the bottom that extends well out of the skin that is to be stitched. Leave the ends out at the edge of the incision for later.
Once stitched up, wipe the bird’s crop with an alcohol swab making sure it is very clean. Ensure there is no residual ‘muck’.
Next you have to stitch the skin and muscle back up.
Option 1a - this will take about 7 stitches all tied separately.
After stitching the skin and muscle securely as per Option 1a, loosely draw together the ends of the thread from stitching the crop and tie it so it stays in place.
Clean the crop with another swab and now place your bird in a warm, clean, dry area where it can be monitored.
Do not feed or water for 24 hours.
If you are worried about dehydration = you can give subcutaneous fluids under the skin (on the birds back and where the wings meet his body). Inject sterile saline, about 3mls or cc per side of the bird just under the skin to form a blister of fluid.
The fluid will be absorbed into the bird’s body quickly.
You must keep a close eye on the bird and make sure it is pooping well as it needs to flush out all toxins.
After 24 hours and for the next 2 weeks offer the bird only soft foods - mashed banana, sweet potato, puréed fruit, baby food and plenty of good natural yoghurt with all the good acidophilus in it. Or use Inner Health Plus as mentioned above. Also make sure all food is very moist. After 2 weeks put the bird back on a normal diet.
Supply a source of fine grit and gravel for the bird to eat.
In the first 24 hours after surgery you also need to regularly check to make sure the crop is not weeping around the wound. If it is leaking dry it and use some Super Glue to seal it up pulling the skin together
(be careful not to Super Glue your fingers together).
You may want to put the bird on antibiotic's either Baytril 50 or Tylan injectable for 10 days.
Remove the external stitches at 10 to 14 days after surgery, make sure the crop is empty when you do this.
Then snip and remove the knot of the crop thread and while applying a small amount of pressure to the crop and the skin the end you are pulling – slowly, gently pull the thread through. Then wipe area with an alcoholic swab.
I wish you good luck if you ever need to do this as it is hard on your hands, eyes and back.
So make sure you are as comfortable as you can get.
I hope this might help someone.
# note = It is also possible to have sour crop and an impacted crop at the same time.
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