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Sour Crop - A Guide to Identification, Remediation, and Prevention

A hen and a rooster staring off into the abyss in the backyard

As a conscientious chicken keeper, ensuring the health and well-being of your feathered flock is paramount. One ailment that can affect chickens is sour crop, a condition that demands prompt attention and care. In this post, we'll delve into what sour crop is, how to identify it, and practical steps to remedy this digestive issue in chickens.

What is Sour Crop?

Sour crop, also known as crop stasis or sour gizzard, is a condition affecting a chicken's crop—the pouch-like organ located at the base of the throat. It functions as a storage space for food before it moves on to the stomach for digestion. Sour crop occurs when the contents of the crop ferment instead of being properly processed, leading to a foul-smelling, sour liquid.

Identifying Sour Crop:

  • Swelling: An enlarged or swollen crop is a key indicator of sour crop. It may feel squishy or dough-like rather than firm.
  • Foul Smell: The presence of a strong, unpleasant odor emanating from the chicken's beak or crop is a significant sign.
  • Regurgitation: Chickens with sour crop may regurgitate undigested food or emit a sour-smelling liquid.
  • Decreased Appetite: Chickens experiencing sour crop may exhibit a decreased interest in eating and drinking.
  • Listlessness: Affected chickens may appear lethargic, with reduced activity levels.

How to Fix Sour Crop:

  • Isolation:
    • Separate the Affected Chicken: Isolate the chicken with sour crop to prevent the spread of potential infections and to closely monitor its condition.
  • Empty the Crop:

    • Crop Massage: Gently massage the crop to help move the fermented contents. Do this in a downward motion to encourage the expulsion of the material.
  • Fasting:

    • Withhold Food Temporarily: Allow the chicken to fast for 24-48 hours to give the crop time to empty and reduce fermentation.
  • Probiotics:

    • Probiotic Supplementation: Administer probiotics to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. This helps restore a healthy balance.
  • Hydration:

    • Encourage Hydration: Ensure the chicken has access to clean, fresh water to stay hydrated, even during the fasting period.
  • Dietary Adjustments:

    • Gradual Introduction of Soft Foods: After the fasting period, introduce soft and easily digestible foods like yogurt, cooked grains, and chopped vegetables.
  • Vet Consultation:

    • Seek Professional Advice: If the condition persists or worsens, consult with a veterinarian for a thorough examination and appropriate treatment.

Preventive Measures:

  • Monitor Diet:

    • Balanced Nutrition: Provide a well-balanced diet with proper access to grit for digestion assistance.
  • Clean Water:

    • Hydration is Key: Ensure chickens have access to clean, fresh water at all times.
  • Regular Health Checks:

    • Observation: Regularly observe your flock for any signs of illness or abnormal behavior.


Sour crop is a challenge that diligent chicken keepers may encounter, but with timely identification and appropriate care, many chickens can recover successfully. By staying vigilant, providing proper nutrition, and addressing any health concerns promptly, you contribute to the overall well-being of your feathered companions. Here's to happy, healthy chickens in your coop!