What came first- the chickens or the blog?

Sour Crop, Gizzard and Bumblefoot

on October 2, 2012

Sour Crop, Gizzard and Bumblefoot sound like characters from a Dickens novel don’t they? They are in fact terms which any hen keeper will tell you are vital to know if you want to keep your hens healthy and happy.

20121002-092336.jpg the crop is a digestive organ exclusive to the bird community. The chicken’s crop is located right beneath the neck against the breast and just right of the centre.
When a chicken eats the food goes into the crop, which extends to accommodate the food and, especially with young chicks, can be easily seen protruding after the bird has eaten. The crop is a store where the food starts to soften before being passed down to the small stomach and gizzard where the food is broken down and digested. It is a vital organ and when keeping chickens you need to keep a close eye on your birds’ crops to make sure they are working properly. A well working crop should be empty when the chicken wakes in the morning, there should be no strange smells emanating from the crop and the crop should fill during the day while the birds eats. Sour crop is caused when the crop doesn’t empty fully overnight and as a result the food ferments within the crop causing a fungal infection. I’ll not enlighten you as to how you can help a hen with sour crop, rest assured it ain’t pretty.
In order to avoid crop problems I give the hens mixed grit in their feed. The grit breaks up the food in the crop and without it the food cannot be broken down and digested, the calcium in the grit also benefits laying birds.
Eating long grass can compact in the crop and stodgy foods such as bread and pasta should be fed sparingly as treats as these can also cause a compaction. Sounds a bit like the Atkins Diet to me! In addition on a monthly basis I add apple cider vinegar to their water.
Food passes from the crop to the stomach. This is the most active part of the digestive system of a chicken. There are two parts to the stomach of a bird. The first part is known as the proventriculus. This is the glandular portion of the stomach. This part secretes digestive juices which break down the food. The proventriculus joins a large muscular portion of the stomach known as the ventriculus, or more commonly known as the gizzard. The gizzard grinds up food even more. The gizzard contains gravel, which works alongside with muscles in grinding up food. Some people eat chicken’s gizzards 😦
Bumblefoot often presents itself as a small red swelling on the base of the foot, it may also be shiny or if the skin breaks with the swelling and irritation the area may bleed, the chicken will often limp or not rest on the infected foot. If left untreated the area will become infected. This infection can cause distortions and disfigurement of the feet and toes causing future difficulties with walking and perching. Bumblefoot is serious and if left untreated can kill.The chicken’s perches can cause Bumblefoot as well as the way the chicken is perching in its coop. Perches need to be clean and smooth, free from any splinters or jagged edges that may aggravate the foot. The perches should not be too high as when the bird jumps down they may injure their feet and overweight or heavy birds are more likely to harm themselves in this way. Another reason to stay off the carbs ladies! Sharp objects within the run area piercing of aggravating the chicken’s feet. This allows bacteria to enter the foot again causing the Bumblefoot infection. When building your coop and run make sure there are no sharp or jagged edges or flooring that your birds feet could be damaged on.
Every day I spend a few minutes holding each of the Gillybirds, feeling their crops, looking at their eyes (bright eyes are a good healthy sign) and checking their feet. Any excuse for a cuddle with my feathered friends 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: