What is Chicken Sour Crop, and how to avoid it

Because chickens do not have teeth to chew and tear up their food, so they can only peck food scraps and swallow things whole, so then they rely on a multi stage digestive process to breakdown their food.   Instead of chewing their food, chickens have a primitive and complex digestive system which relies heavily on micro-biological digestion of food and particles.

What is a Chicken Crop?

The crop is the first stage in a chicken’s digestive system.  When you see your chickens scratching around for food, you might wonder how they can eat so many grubs, worms and bugs without actually being able to chew and munch on their food.  The secret is that they hold the food scraps in their crop before it passes into the stomach.

The chicken crop can actually be easy to find right above their chest, and just below their throat.  After a happy day pecking around for food, you may actually be able to see and feel the crop full of food.  If you gently feel under your chickens neck, you may feel a slightly bulbous spongy feeling mass, which is full of food scraps, liquid and helpful probiotic organisms that are actually the beginning of the digestive process.

The crop is actually a storage compartment that holds the raw foods and scraps, softening and starting the digestion.  When you don’t have any teeth to chew up food, you need a crop to do the job for you!

Sour Crop – and how to avoid it!

When your chickens are healthy and their gut is operating correctly, the crop should empty itself overnight, and feed the partly digested contents down into the gut.  This means that the crop is ready to receive a new batch of food for the new day.

However, if you notice that the chicken has a bulbous crop in the morning, then this is a sign of impacted crop or chicken sour crop.  This could mean that the crop is not healthy, and cannot empty the food at night, or is not operating fast enough to digest the food.  Unfortunately, this can result in a blockage in the system, and result in the old food actually rotting or decaying in the crop, which leads to a condition called sour crop, or impacted crop.

Sour crop Symptoms

If you begin to notice one or more of your chickens becoming a little quieter than normal, then this is a sure sign of a sick chicken.  This could be a sign of sour crop symptoms.  If the sick chicken is sitting by itself and not coming out for breakfast, then you need to keep a closer eye out.  Of course, your chicken could be ready to lay an egg, but this is always followed by an immediate return to normal inquisitive and boisterous behavior.

If this does not happen, and if you can observe a noticeable loss of appetite, or loss of weight, then this could be a sign of a sick chicken.  It may be time to feel around the crop area for sour crop symptoms.  If the crop is full and bulbous, or if you detect a noticeable bad smelling odor from the chicken crop, then it may well be a case of sour crop or impacted crop

 What causes Sour Crop?

There is a whole range of issues that can contribute to the problem, such as disease, parasites, or even a case of indigestion!  The problem can be largely avoided by maintaining the health of your chickens, and regular attention to worming and adding healthy food supplements.

Sometimes chickens inquisitive nature can play against them, such as if they find a shiny object that they shouldn’t be allowed to play with.  Unfortunately, chickens are likely to swallow anything that they can fit into their mouth, and if they swallow something metallic or sharp, then they may need medical help to remove the object.

Similarly, long grass clippings can cause of problem if they eat too much too fast, and the grass can cause  a blockage to the normal digestion process, so even though your chickens just love some fresh grass or garden clippings, try to make sure that they don’t choke themselves!

Sour Crop Treatment

Really the best way is avoidance!  If you keep your chickens safe from disease and parasites, if you ensure they can’t eat foreign objects, and if you offer fresh grass in small doses, then you can manage avoidance of the problem.  The best sour crop treatment in chickens is avoidance!

Some of the healthy food supplements we have recommended here is the best way to keep your chickens digestion working perfectly.  A natural probiotic supplement can be a good sour crop treatment in chickens.  Treatment for sour crop with probiotics is a good way to make sure that all the food in the crop is digested properly, and to keep the rest of the gut working correctly.

However, if this treatment for sour crop in chickens doesn’t work, be sure to take your chicken to the veterinary for professional care and treatment.

Chicken Diet Supplements – for extra health and vitality!

To ensure that your chicken’s digestive system stays in top condition, there are health supplements that you can provide for your chickens that contain vitamins, electrolytes and a source of probiotics which aids in the digestion of food.  Chicken food supplements can also be a good sour crop treatment, to avoid the problem becoming any worse.

There is a range of supplementary products that help to maintain a healthy balance of probiotic bacteria (such as lactobacillus) in the crop and gut of your chickens, and this helps to process the food to make sure your chickens are getting all the nutrition that they need from their food.

Nutri-Drench Poultry Solution

Chicken Sour Crop and How to Avoid itWith the Nutri-Drench chicken health supplement, you can treat all types of chickens and poultry for better egg laying, better growth, resistance to diseases, as well as general health and vitality.  The Nutri-Drench solution is an ideal supplement to provide your chickens with a natural source of probiotics, vitamins and minerals, as well as a broad treatment for diseases and illnesses.  The Nutri-Drench solution aids to provide a boost to the immune system, ensures all the necessary vitamins are provided for, and improves the response to antibiotics.

How to avoid having a sick chicken

Your chickens will be happier, it will improve their appetite, and improve their laying potential.  Even better, this product will ensure that you always get strong egg shells, as it provides an adequate source of minerals such as calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium.  Importantly, Nutri-Drench aids in the digestive process, which ensures that the minerals and vitamins are more easily absorbed in the gut of the chicken so that they get the full benefit of a broad and varied diet.


Big Ole Bird – Poultry Probiotic & Poultry Supplement

Chciken Sour Crop - sick chicken There is another chicken health supplement from Big Ole Bird company which promises to add to the health and vitality of your pet chickens.  No matter whether you have a domesticated pet chicken, or raise high breed chickens for show, or whether you just want more eggs, this product will help you raise happy healthy chickens.

Big Ole Bird health supplement keeps your chickens free from disease and that helps them to grow big and strong by keeping them healthy on the inside.  This supplement provides a healthy source of probiotic ingredients that keep a natural balance of bacteria in the chicken crop and gut such as micro-biological organisms that aid in the digestive process. Not only does it maintain a healthy gut flora, but there are also added organic digestive acids such as humic acid and fulvic acid which help your chickens to digest all of their food without chewing.

We hope this helps to overcome problems with a sick chicken such as sour crop or impacted crop.

Click here to read more about our blog about raising a pet chicken.