So a few weeks ago I had a chicken that was lethargic, poopy (ha... he said poopy), and generally sad looking. His Crop was completely full and he was still trying to eat. Despite this he was really scrawny. I spent some time moving the food ball around in his crop, thinking that it might be impacted. Over the following week he got better and seemed to recover fully. Then last week It all happened again. Same symptoms, same bird. He was in pretty sad shape so I put him out of his troubles. Not wanting to pass the chance to learn something, I opened him up to see IF I could figure out what was up.
The crop was full but didn't seemed impacted. It was full of feed from the previous night and some grass. The stomach was empty and the rest of him looked normal. The only thing I noticed was the Yellow Coloring around his heart and in the leg muscle. Anyone have a clue as to what that's all about? Here's a photo to help get an idea as to what I'm talking about.
All the other birds have been just fine so I don't think it was a communicable illness.
Yellow fat is not uncommon in birds feeding on grass/weeds/pasture. The beta carotene levels are higher than in grain fed birds. I've carved up enough chicken in my time to know the fat deposits and their color are not symmetrical within a carcass. Pericardium fat is common, as is fat around the thighs.
Have you examined the contents of the crop?
Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
I think the yellow color is the normal color of the fatty tissues, especially on a bird with plenty of access to greens. The other innards look healthy as far as I can see in your photo....no discolored liver or bloated up gallbladder. The only other things I might have tried to do were to examine the lungs and windpipe for congestion or blood and strip out the intestines for worms.....
I went through the bird as thoroughly as I could and saw no reason for the trouble. They are on pasture all day and then get a little bit of feed at the end of the day just to keep them interested in clearing up especially tough pieces of pasture. They work hard for that little bit of feed. The bird in question still had a full crop the following morning but I couldn't see a reason for the hold up. The only other thing I can think of is that it was some anatomical issue. Maybe the sphincter that allows food down the line was somehow malformed. This is one of the birds that we hatched this spring he's always been on the small side so maybe it finally caught up with him. At 15 weeks old it could be a developmental thing... I don't know.
Jay Green wrote:Anything in his gizzard such as a nail, piece of fencing, etc. Sometimes hardware disease can cause that. Did you look in the small intestine for signs of worm infestation?
The gizzard was in good shape. I didn't look in the intestines. the only place I didn't get too in depth, at risk of contamination. I looked at it's droppings which seemed a bit soft but otherwise "normal". There was some matted on his rump but I think that's from sitting down while he crapped.
How long does food usually stay in the crop? I've always assumed it's there for a few hours and then moves on. This bird's crop was still completely full after 10 hours without feed (overnight).
With a messy bottom and crop stasis, I'm wondering if he didn't have candida albicans...or thrush, as it's commonly known. Some call it sour crop and it can extend throughout the entire digestive tract and looks like gleet on the other end. Did you happen to look in his mouth for lesions?
When I first noticed the crop issue, I opened up it's mouth to see what was up. I somehow thought I would be able to see down there. The inside of the mouth looked OK to me but I couldn't see much further than that.
I suppose thrush is possible. I thought that it would have spread among the birds as they share a waterer. Perhaps it was just a weak bird to begin with and something made him susceptible to the infection. Though with a severe systemic infection, I would expect there to be some stress on the liver and kidneys, which looked good to me. Looks can be deceiving though.
Edit: After some looking around, I'm less convinced of it being thrush because the crop was hard and dryish, not soft and wet. There was no foul odor. From my limited reading, sour crop seems to be a more funky mess than this particular bird.