Friday, June 7, 2013

Natural Treatments for Sour Crop

Sour Crop, or Candidiasis, is caused by an overgrowth of Candida albicans. Simply put, it is a yeast infection inside the bird’s crop. It causes the mucus membranes within the crop to swell giving the bird the appearance of having something the size of an apple lodged in its neck. This overgrowth of yeast can also create lesions in the crop, esophagus and mouth. 

In a true case of sour crop, the swollen area will feel squishy and a bad smell can be detected from the beak when pressure is applied to the crop. If the crop is hard, it may be an impacted crop and not sour crop, so please be sure to inspect the crop area thoroughly before treating.

What our contributors have to say about treating a true case of sour crop:

Vicki Says:

  • Withhold water for the first 12 hours
  • Withhold food for 24 hours
  • After the first 12 hours, give only clear, clean water with no additives
  • At this point I release the bird but I continue observation
If the crop does not empty after the first 24 hours:
  • I give the bird only clean water and try to get the crop empty to start treatment
  •  Do not feed the bird any solid food at all until the crop is empty. If it is not empty there is a reason. Adding more volume (food) is not going to help
  • Use a dropper to give olive or coconut oil
  • Massage the crop
If the crop swells up again
  • Confine the bird to the coop
  • I again withhold water for 12 hours and food for 24 hours - you need that crop emptied for treatment to work.
  • I massage the crop if it feels hard and impacted. If it is squishy I do a little massaging to get things moving.
 After the crop empties:
  • I feed them eggs with a tablespoon of plain yogurt. I just smash the whole egg… shells and all - and stir in the yogurt.
  •  I observe for the next 24 hours.
  • They are offered plain fresh water at all times.
  • After 24 hours, if the crop has emptied, I add plain grain to the eggs.
  • I observe for another 24 hours.
I do not do much messing with sour crop. Sometimes they get something lodged in there that needs time to get out. I can usually feel it from the outside and massage it out.

If you are sure it is sour crop, there are many things that can be done to treat this kind of thrush naturally. The key to curing thrush naturally and permanently is to kill the yeast with natural means and also to cure the underlying deficiency or imbalance that allowed the yeast to grow out of control in the first place. You treat all you want, but if the bird is to get better it is imperative to find the core of the issue.

I offer Oregano, tea tree oil, lavender, and a few cloves to all my birds regularly.  Usually this time of year birds develop sour crop from over eating all the lush greens they didn’t have over the winter. I have two that are pooping pure green from the wild strawberries and blossoms. They come in at night and look like they are going to blow up. (They look normal by morning, so I know it’s not a thrush issue.)

I have culled one bird for a chronic crop problem. She just loved to eat the oddest things. I had cut up old pie tins and put them in my garden to deter birds and bunnies, and she loved to eat them. Loved shiny things. Found all my husband’s lost nails, nuts and bolts. She was very odd. If she came across a nail head in a door jam or window, she would spend hours trying to get it out.

 A normal, healthy crop.

Justine Says:

Here is what has worked for me –

Cut out all ACV
Give yoghurt with probiotics
Eggs are also good
No sugar at all - so no fruits, breads, etc. 
Massage crop

When I first noticed that my hen Ruby had Sour Crop, she was bending over to eat and regurgitating. That stuff STANK. Like spoiled milk. Her crop was huge. I took her off food and offered her only water while I did some research. I then bought some plain, sugar free, yoghurt and offered it to her with eggs. She gobbled it up. I massaged her crop twice a day and continued to offer her yoghurt in addition to their regular feed for a week. No treats. She was better after a few days and back to normal after a week.

aaggig Says:

The one thing that I found after searching the internet was Red Wine... You MUST withhold food or grain based food - as Justine says it’s a yeast infection and sugars feed yeast.  Give the chicken a dropper full of Red Wine and wait. Massage the crop in a downward motion. Check the chicken later and if it is not gone give them more Red wine and some plain, organic yogurt. The chicken should be cured in 12-24 hours.
Another chicken owner had the same problem and I told her about the wine. At first she was skeptical but emailed the next day say it was a miracle!  So that’s my 2 cents....

*Please note – Be cautious when administering liquids and oils by syringe or dropper as you do not want your bird to aspirate the liquid into the lungs. Here is a great video on giving chickens medication:



  1. My baby chicks are 1 week 1 day old today...they are in a large box with food water and mash and grit and a warming light...they are getting pretty active and pecky toward each other but it's still over cast and coolish out side about 67 degrees ehen can I safely put them in their coop?

    1. If they have a heat source to get under, you can put them in a safe part of your coop now - - just make sure you don't have a fire hazard if you do this. They need a heat source of 90 degrees at 1 week of age, 85 at 2 weeks, 80 at 3 weeks, 75 at 4 weeks... These numbers are just rough and not gospel. Also, the heat source should just be in one area with other areas that are room temperature. If they are too hot all the time, it can cause pasty butt.

      Good luck and I hope all goes well with your chicks!

  2. My Chick has sour crop does strawberry or raspberry yogurt work??

    1. It is best to use plain yogurt as the sugars in flavored yogurts can feed yeasts - not what you want.

  3. My older laying hen, Big Red, has sour crop. This is my first bout with hens so I know I caused this...I fed them a shovel full of scratch that had sprouted and gotten tall. I have read and learned that is not good because they do not free range. Yesterday I massaged her a bit and some really foul smelling stuff came out of her mouth...I can feel a small "bundle" of stuff in there. I am going today to get yogurt and try this avenue. Red wine huh? I have that too.....thanks for all your resources...frankie

  4. I have found that papaya cures this fast and easy. I've used it when I hand fed baby parrots and it works within a few hours as compared to days for an antibiotic. This morning I found a hen with a crop full of nasty liquid so I emptied it best I could and added some baby food papaya I had in the pantry. I think I caught it early because there is no solid mass in there. This is why it pays to know your chickens and how they act. The sooner you catch something like this the better your outcome. I will let the papaya sit for a few hours and then try giving some fresh water along with some more papaya. No grains today at all, I will wait till tomorrow for that. Yogurt tonight if the papaya goes down.

  5. I gave yogurt during the day and red wine at night and occasionally one cooked egg for one week after she was fully recovered i put her in plain grain diet now after 10 days since she is back on grain diet she is sick again with sour crop , letargic and not eatting , now what ??

  6. This info was all so very helpful. Discovered fluid like "sac" on chest of 3 mo old chick & my little daughter was very upset. 1st time raising chicks & at first glance would guess she had a tumor. Will apply recommended treatments & hope they work. Thank you!!

  7. I have an old girl that I cured , babies creamed porridge mixed with natural yoghurt sterilized water ,put in syringe and gave to her worked a treat she's living proof and not to mention t tree oil

  8. No one says how to cure the yeast? My hen was on serious antibiotics and has had crop issues since then. Just like us, I'm figuring it is yeast. Is that why some do the ACV? I made her eat and drink last night. She spewed liquid this morning and then I did the ACV/water 50/50 mix a little at 8am and then at 1pm and at 5pm she spewed everywhere with old grass and more "stuff" and I did one more ACV. I will see how it is in the morning and then see if she will eat or drink. Won't I have to force feed since she has had this problem? I noticed it because she looked like she was eating but when I looked closely she wasn't and then she had lost 2 lbs. That's why I'm scared to have her not eating for too long. Just wondering if I can get some feedback? After the peritonitis, I'm afraid she may just not come back to functioning well, but I'd like to try a little longer???

  9. I never gave my hen A.C.V. time and a lot of patience , making sure the crop is empty and giving her as much natural yoghurt , baby porridge and what I said before the trusty teatree oil .Doing this at least 4 times a day , she is a picture of health now , keep it up give it time she will pull through best of luck

  10. How do you give tea tree oil? Does the bird ingest it?

    1. Yes, ingested orally. Using a dropper/syringe.

    2. How much Tea Tree oil do you give??

  11. One of my hens has sour crop :( I massaged her crop and the sour smelling gunk came out. I am giving her molasses-water to strengthen her and plain yogurt. Should I continue to massage her crop?

  12. Hello same anonymous as the one above. Should I give my hen tea tree oil?

  13. teatree oil is supposed to be toxic? have read live mealie worms help also

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  15. Chickens usually empty their crops over night. If I give the red wine, I do I know if it is working unless I wait til the next morning to see if her crop has gone down ??

  16. what about kefir i make my own with whole raw milk i get locally( grass fed and grass bred), it is a lot more pro biotics than yogurt as i do not have chickens yet would also like to know if they can have it as a supplement or treat

  17. Do anyone has specific info about Tea tree oil? My girl had been sick for 2 weeks, managed to make her puke and she threw up a huge ball of grass, she was fine for a week and got sick again. I gave her activated charcoal pills, make her puke again and then gave her a capsule of olive oil mixed with doTERRA on guard. Fingers crossed that tomorrow is a better day for her!

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  20. I am sorry .I think I missed somthing what does ACV stand for...Thanks wayne I chicken with sour crop( it had to be the one the grand kids love)

    1. ACV = Apple Cider Vinegar (unpasteurized is the healthiest!)


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