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Neck Spasms / Crop adjustment?

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Hello Everyone, I'm hoping someone may have seen this in one of their chickens before and know what the issue was 🤞🏻

Our lovely 9 year old hen has been a little off this last week, not eating as much, fluffed up and she has started having these neck spasms now and then. It seems worse after she has eaten, her neck does a snake like movement upwards and I've noticed she sometimes stands tall with her neck stretched upwards as if trying to adjust her crop.

Her crop is empty in the mornings, it was a little squishy the other day, small, but she's fed on layers mash so it does feel soft in the crop at times anyway. Her poos are a lot smaller than usual but may account for her not eating as much, otherwise the poo looks normal. She's still perky enough to peck our bantams out of the way for corn, her colouring is good. 

We saw these spasms last year in one our bantams who had a very enlarged crop that would not clear. We tried everything, even an exotics vet twice but we sadly had to put her down in the end 😢

We do not have a specialist avian/exotic vet near, although one consults at our local vets every couple of weeks. Our regular vets unfortunatley do not always seem to know exactly what is wrong when we have taken our birds to them over the years, it is one of the downsides to owning chickens when things do go wrong.

I did film a little video clip of these spasms but I can't upload on here

Thanks in advance, any advice greatly appreciated 👍🏻

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As you quite rightly say, they have these neck movements when they try to move their crop, usually because it's too firm. But it can also be sour crop which is irritating them and that's my guess here. You say here crop is empty, but is it absolutely empty, as sometimes there can be a small lump still in there that's gone sour? It could also be some kind of throat obstruction, either a tumour or cankers (cream coloured growths), so have a look down her throat? I would advise just letting her drink, but no food at the moment. Is this layers mash fed wet, because if so it will go off very quickly and that will trigger sour crop.

You bantam had a digestive impaction. Our solution is water only and a regular massage. Sometimes it clears, but if it's a deep rooted problem, like something indigestible eaten, it won't.

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Thank you Beantree for your reply 👍🏻 much appreciated.

This afternoon, although I hadn't seen our hen eat much or drink earlier today her crop was much bigger than this morning and soft like a water balloon. We have brought her into the garage out of the cold wind and put her in a pet carrier with some water so that she doesn't eat anymore today.

We always feed the layers mash dry although have recently once or twice made it into a warm porridge on the mornings we have had snow/ice. However this has been eaten straight away, nothing remaining after 10 minutes.

We are waiting on a callback from the vets on whether they will prescribe Nystatin but I wont hold my breath as they didn't in the past where we eventually had it from the exotics vet who couldn't understand why they they hadn't given it in the first place 🤷🏻‍♀️

We have Daktarin Oral Sugar Free here which we can try if we can't get anything else?

I think with our bantam, the crop was so impacted it would never have moved, despite all the massaging we did and things we tried. It was possibly thick grass/straw in a mass or like you said something indigestaible. Operating was the only option but she had become so thin and weak it was kinder to let her go.

I'm hoping this situation is different and can be resolved this time 🤞🏻

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Hi, so my hybrid hen had exactly the same thing and her crop felt squishy but she actually had so much in there. We took her to the vets and she had an operation and is all fine now. It definitely sounds like an infected crop (or whatever it is called) when they can’t digest food properly. You should call for an emergency appointment because if I had left my hen any longer without an op then she would have died. The op isn’t really expensive, of course it costs a lot but in comparison to other animals it was reasonable.

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ellasflock - I'm so glad the crop op was successful on your hen and you caught it in time. The price the exotics vets quoted for operating on our now deceased little bantam Violets crop, was between £250-350 😱 We were just not in a position to afford that at time however our regular Vet was willing to do the op for around £150 which we decided to try. Sadly when she went in for a pre-op check they were concerned that she was too underweight to survive and could not guarantee it would work so we decided to put her down 😢 We still really miss her she wasn't even a year old.

Our elderly hen that now has a crop issue is slightly different in that her crop doesn't seem to be impacted. It's empty in the morning but after eating/drinking it is squishy, water balloon like. I've massaged it a few times today, it sounds a bit gurgley.

Vets rang back, they will not prescribe Nystatin without seeing her and they can't fit her in until Monday afternoon 🤦🏻‍♀️ They suggested trying ACV in the meantime but my husband forgot to ask how much? Our chickens have ACV regularly in the drinker anyway but does anyone know what the dosage is for sour crop please?

If her crop is empty in the morning, is it best not to feed her and just dose with ACV/Water? She last ate mid morning today until I took the food away.

Thank you for any help 🤗

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Wow the exotics vet was expensive! I paid £150. I’m so sorry about your bantam 😓. How odd, I would still check it out because I would hate to hear that she has died. I don’t think a supplement of AVC is going to be much. Maybe £30 for a course? May be wrong because I have never had it before but to her supplements cost around that. Good luck, I hope you sort it all out ☺️

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Hello, I was hoping someone may be able to offer some further advice please with our on-going suspected sour crop.

Since my last post our hen has seen a vet who couldn't find anything obviously wrong except the neck dancing and stretching and therefore suspected sour crop. 

She was given Emeprid, this seemed to calm the neck spasms for a day, she ate a little more and actually drank a small amount herself.

We had to wait a few days for the Nystatin, it's 30ml (100,000 unit/ml) to be given at a dose of 5.25ml twice daily on food. We have given it by syringe otherwise she would never have any due to barley eating.

We are now out of Nystatin and unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a great improvement. She still barley drinks herself, we have to syringe water, and eats a small amount. Her crop is emptying ok but can still sound a little windy when there's something in there. She's pooing ok, can be bright at times but is fluffed up a lot of the time, not herself at all.

I'm thinking now it may possibly be gut related, maybe tumor, old age or could it be that it's too soon for the sour crop to have improved and if so, should we be looking to get more Nystatin? (She's had Nystatin for 3 days altogether, 30ml)

Is it worth trying to get some probiotics into her, if so, any recommendations? Avipro has Dextrose, could this make sour crop worse?  We have added Life-Guard to the water just so she has something beneficial and we used a little Nuti-drops last week but have run out.

I really appreciate any advice as we are not sure what to do now 😔 Although we do realise she's done so well to reach 9 years and has been very healthy and lively up until a week or two back.


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Beryls bacteria are supposed to be very good as a probiotic type thing.

If she was my hen, I’d probably be doing the same as you and trying everything to get her back to full health. It sounds like you’re doing a great job. But with the detachment that comes from her not being mine, I think I’d say that at 9 years old it may be best to stop with the pharmaceutical treatments now and see what happens.

That said when my bantam had sour crop I used daktarin (not licensed for use in poultry) for more like 5 or 6 days while only feeding moist pellets and water, and she did get better. But I don’t think she was as bad as your hen, and she was only 2 years old.

It’s so hard to know what to do for the best isn’t it? Best wishes x

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Thank you mullethunter for your reply and best wishes 🤗

I have ordered some Beryls Friendly Bacteria to give to our sick hen, it will also be handy to give our bantams a dose as well - one has had a slight touch of intermittent diarrhea the last day or so. I have seen Beryls advertised before whilst browsing through chicken lotions and potions but I was put off by the postage costs on top, not cheap 😱 but we'll try anything at this point 🤞🏻

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Thank you Flopsy, did your girl recover? I hope so 🤞🏻

Unfortunately we had to take our lovely hen to the vets this evening to be put down 😢 It was unfair to keep trying to treat her as she hadn't eaten for over a week and only had water from us syringing into her beak. Although she could still be perky at times she was getting more huddled up during the day and the neck dancing and standing tall seemed to increase and she just looked so fed up.

Frustratingly we could not get an appointment with the exotics/avian vet until 2nd March and our regular vet said there was nothing else they could try, although they hadn't suggested an antibiotic/tylan or tried to flush her crop...they just don't seem to value chickens very much and this really bothers me 😤 as they are a large practice, both farm and small animal.

The Nystatin she had didn't seem to help, in fact up until she had finished her course, her crop was at least emptying, but afterwards it seemed much worse and stayed squishy. 

I had to cancel the order for Beryl's F Bacteria then yesterday as they called me to tell me there was a delay and they were expecting it in a few days which wasn't soon enough for us to try.

Feel happy to have loved and enjoyed her for the last 9 years 🥰 but sad we wont see her strutting around our garden anymore 😢

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