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Impacted Crop

The crop is a muscular bag at the bottom of a hen’s neck which stores feed for the day and on occasion can become impacted.

Normal crop function

First thing in the morning the crop should be empty, and will gradually increase in size as the hen eats. In a healthy hen the crop will be roughly the size of a small tangerine when full; the feed will pass out of the crop into the gizzard overnight and the cycle starts again.


  • If the crop feels hard, rather like a wild-bird fat ball, it is impacted.


  • An impacted crop is sometimes caused by eating long grass which binds with feed (Figure 1) and can become serious as the impaction will prevent other food passing through leading to slow starvation.


Note that this home remedy is not intended to offer a cure or replace veterinary treatment, but may alleviate symptoms where no professional support is easily available. The suggestions are based on experience gained with our own hens.
  • Isolate your hen from food sources.
  • Allow access to water.
  • Dose with 10ml olive oil or vegetable oil (trickle it slowly into the side of the beak).
  • Wait for 10 minutes then massage the crop and try to break down the blockage.
  • Repeat twice more every couple of hours.
  • Monitor droppings, quantity and texture; a hen which is producing droppings cannot have a totally blocked crop.
  • The next morning if the crop has not reduced in size the hen should see a vet.
  • It may be necessary for surgical removal of material from the crop. This is an often-simple procedure which can be carried out by a vet whilst the hen is conscious, but depending on exactly what is going on, may also warrant general anaesthesia (Figure 2).


  • Avoid access to long grass, string, plastic or straw.
Impacted Crop
Figure 1: Impacted crop
Impacted Crop
Figure 2: A crop being surgically emptied