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:
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.
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: