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Crop Stasis

Other Names: Crop Stasis, Delayed Crop Emptying

Crop stasis is a condition which occurs when the chicken's crop doesn't empty at a normal rate. It is a clinical sign of a disease, rather than a disease itself.

The crop is a round-shaped out-pocketing of the chicken's esophagus. It is located at the base of the neck (it may be easier to locate when it's contents are full, which is most likely to occur at the end of the day). The crop acts like a temporary storage pouch for food, and is where the initial stages of digestion occurs in chickens.

Normally, when chickens ingest food, it should only remain in the crop temporarily, before moving through to the proventriculus (referred to as the glandular stomach, where digestion primarily begins), and from there through to the rest of the gastrointestinal tract. The movement of the food through the digestive system is referred to as gastrointestinal motility, and is controlled by highly coordinated waves of contractions.

Any disruption in the gastric motility, or obstruction of the intestinal tract will eventually cause food to back up into the crop. If the food remains in the crop, it will start to decompose and cause sour crop.

There are several reasons why chickens develop crop stasis, which include:
  • Crop impaction: May be caused by eating tough, fibrous vegetation (such as that from grass clippings), long pieces of string or baling twine, or certain potted plants.
  • Decreased or impaired gastrointestinal motility : May occur during really high environmental temperatures, when a chicken goes a long time without feed and then eats too much too quickly when feed is available again, Marek’s disease, or heavy metal poisoning.
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) Obstruction: GI impactions can occur from ingestion of fibrous plant material (such as long pasture grasses), compacted feed, miscellaneous ingesta (tortilla pieces, baling twine, soft plastics, wood shavings, etc.), tumors, or by high loads of intestinal parasites.

Clinical Signs

Delayed crop emptying
Gas sounds from crop
Weight loss
Abnormal upright position
Regurgitation or vomiting
Sour odor from mouth
Listlessness or lethargy
Decreased appetite
Enlarged crop
Undigested food in droppings
Foul odor to droppings


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Radiographs
  • CBC
  • Cytology

Reported Cases

  • Case 1: Phytobezoar causing crop blockage in a Silkie bantam A Silkie bantam was brought to see the vet. The owners had noticed that the crop was larger than normal, but didn’t realize it wasn’t functioning properly until the bird had lost a noticeable amount of weight and reduced appetite. Physical exam revealed the crop was large and pendulous with a bulky, pliable mass within it, which had developed over a period of time. Initial treatment consisted of crop lavage and massaging of the crop, while the bird was receiving medication for a secondary bacterial and yeast infection. However, despite treatment, the mass within the crop would not resolve, and perpetuated secondary ingluvitis (inflammation of the crop). The mass was eventually removed via surgical intervention (an ingluviotomy). The mass that was causing the crop blockage was a phytobezoar, composed of a large fibrous mass of grass. The surgery was a success, however, the chicken required prolonged medical treatment due to a pendulous crop and secondary yeast and bacteria. A crop bra helped resolve it. Ref


Supportive careIsolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own chicken "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.
FluidsIntravenous or subcutaneous (under the skin) fluids for dehydrated birds.
Crop flushMay be needed. Procedure performed by your vet. There is a high risk of aspiration.
Antimicrobial therapyAntibiotics or antifungal medication may be indicated.
Anti-inflammatory drugsMay be indicated.
Intestinal motility modifiersMetoclopramide (Reglan) or cisapride (Propulsid), given orally, IM or subcutaneous (under the skin). Only if there is no obstruction in the lower GI tract.
Intestinal protectantsSucralfate



  • Be consistent about feeding schedule and type of feed, make any changes gradually.
  • Keep intestinal parasite levels under control by deworming or obtaining annual fecals to ensure chickens don't develop high levels in their intestines.



Scientific References

Good Overviews

Risk Factors

  • Hot temperatures
  • Overfeeding
  • Restricting feed
  • Irregular feeding schedule

Also Consider