A tough call: thoughts on not culling a chicken

From time to time good animal husbandry practice would recommend that you cull a sick animal.  I have a sick chicken and was coming to grips with that fact for a week now.

The problem?  An impacted crop.  Evidently, she had eaten something that was blocking her crop, and it had become engorged.  It was three times the normal size and…

“What did she eat?” you ask.

Who knows with chickens!  It could have been anything, a piece of plastic, some straw, a length of string or a large blade of grass, any of which can be fatal if it gets lodged at the exit of their crop.  The diagram below shows you that number 4 is the crop.  This is a pigeon’s inside view, but it is very much based on the same organs as the chicken possesses.

Photo credit HERE

You may click for greater detail or just take my word for it that it is the large organ at the base of the neck and resting at the opening of the chest cavity.  😉

In an effort to avoid further impaction which could lead to infection and death, I began a twice daily regimen of massaging my poor little barred rock‘s crop.  She didn’t like it, and squawked in protest each time.  I can’t blame her!   A couple of days during this time I felt we were making some progress, but then by Sunday she had become very weak and thin.  She had wobbly knees but was trying to eat in spite of the over-full crop.  I continued to watch her closely for signs of other sickness that would be contagious to the rest of my chickens.  While an impacted crop will not affect the others, a distressed and weakened chicken can fall ill to various pathogens in the environment. If not carefully monitored she can then spread these to the whole flock.

Monday night I went out to lock up the Chicken Palace and she was sitting low on the roost.  Her feathers were fluffed up, her head was sunken into her shoulders, and her comb had gone pale.  I expected her to be gone by morning and told Bob my suspicions.

Tuesday morning I went out to the chicken yard and tried to prepare myself to do what was necessary if she was still lingering.  I opened the door and as is always the case the girls and Grayson came bounding out looking for breakfast, and so did the little barred rock!  I watched as she drank lots of water, ate like there was no tomorrow, and nearly nosed dived each time she bent down to do so.  It was then that I noticed her comb was a bright red like is should be and her frontal profile was much reduced!

So my little Barred Rock looks awful and puny,

but she is definitely on the mend!


It was a tough call, but I’m so glad I waited before doing anything rash.