Lily returns to The Crop of Doom

April 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

Lily in the nestbox, 26 January 2012Poor Lily has had a horrible crop blockage. And quite a weird one too. A couple of nights ago (Friday 4th) she was in the house way earlier than she should have been, and when I went to have a look, was determined to stay away from me. She’s just started her moult, so I put that down to the typical “I’ve got no feathers and am feeling miserable so go away and leave me alone” po-faced-ness that the hard moulters seem to go through.

But then yesterday morning she was still hiding in the house, so I grabbed her to find out what was going on, and found her with an enormously distended crop, looking very unwell indeed. When I palpated the mass, it was completely liquid. Not liquid in the sense of “quite mushy, and easy to move around”. As in, “full to near-bursting with water.

I brought her inside, and attempted to put a crop tube down her throat. I was vaguely thinking maybe I could suck some of the whatever-it-was out manually. Lily was not enthusiastic about this option, and while she was struggling, managed to regurgitate a bit of vile-smelling liquid. So I held her upside down over the laundry tub, and squeezed her crop.

For those of you who have never done this, there are three things to be aware of. First, you will need to use more pressure, more force, than you expect to. (Think of it like milking a cow – you’re sort of rippling your fingers firmly across the crop to expel the contents, rather than wringing it or pumping it out.) Finding the balance between firm enough and not causing pain or injury is a fraught experience for both you and the chook. Second, the bird will try to bend their head back into an upwards position, so you will need to be aware of that. (I suspect – although I don’t know for certain – that you get a better result if you keep their neck reasonably straight. You don’t want a kink in the pipe, so to speak.) Thirdly, you are going to get mucky. So don’t do this wearing good clothes, or without towels and so on nearby.

Actually there’s a fourth thing too – you need to return the bird to an upright position fairly promptly when they‘ve/you’ve finished, so they can shake their head and clear any liquid from their throats before they aspirate it. In my case, this was all taking place in the laundry. The washing machine is next to the sink, so I just put a towel over the machine and set Lily back on her feet right there. (And wiped up the resultant mess as best I could.)Lily, looking combative 310311

I’ve managed to get most of the stuff out of her crop, and discovered some very manky looking feathers in the fluid. She’s beginning her moult, and I did notice her eating feathers that she came across a few days ago, so maybe this was what caused the problem? Dunno. Anyway, we dosed her with pureed apple, and put her in the hospital cage overnight.

Her crop has stayed more or less in stasis for a couple of days – she’s pooing a bit, and getting nothing to eat other than a twice-daily dosing of apple puree, and a couple more sessions of crop massage and manual emptying. Yesterday morning though her crop had finally deflated overnight of it’s own accord. We took her in to see Auntie Pauline, who reckons everything is progressing as it should, and that Lily can be allowed some mash with apple on Saturday. (She gets some cooked apple pieces at the moment, as well as all the mush she can eat. Neither of which are filling her with joy, but there you go.) Fingers crossed, she should be able to back to the flock again in a week or two.

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