The tale of Itty Bitty.Posted: April 19, 2012
A while back, when we were moving our first bach of meat birds from the brooder to their chicken tractor we noticed that one of our chicks was really small. Like really small. I figured that maybe we got a bantam or something and left her in the brooder to hang out with some of the layer chicks that were still about the same size as she was.
A couple of days later, I noticed that she had a weird lump on her chest. I picked her up and felt her and sure enough she had a really hard lump on her chest. She was also skeletally thin under her feathers.
You know I ran right inside the house and consulted Dr. Google to see what could possibly be wrong with our little girl.
I found a few articles about impacted crops and figured that must be the problem. Basically, chickens have a sack that their food sits in, a pre-stomach, that is called the crop. Food sits in there and gets soft and then travels to the next stomach called the Proventriculus and then moves on to the gizzard.
Got it? Well don’t worry neither did I. I know the gizzard goes in gravy, but that’s about it.
The first website I found that had a treatment plan for Itty Bitty’s rock hard crop was to slice her open with a sharp knife remove the mass and then put a bandage on it and hope for the best.
Ummm…. No. Not on your life was I going to do this. It’s very clear that I’m not a veterinarian and I certainly won’t be performing poultry surgeries any time soon.
So I kept googling.
I finally found a forum that suggested putting mineral oil in an eye dropper and feeding that to the chicken a couple times a day followed by a gentle massage. That seemed to be a reasonable option. We went to the local store and got supplies to fix up our wee chicken.
I have to be completely honest here. This is a meat bird. None of them have names. I call them chicken dish names when I call them. I had not formed any kind of emotional attachment with these animals as I knew that I would be taking an active part in their end. I had all kinds of mixed feelings about how to proceed, but one thing was sure I couldn’t leave her in pain and that had to be dealt with.
We gave her the mineral oil and tried massaging the bulge. Massaging was difficult as these birds are kind of skittish so for the most part she got the oil. It seemed like her crop would get better and then the bulge would come back. About a week later, she seemed like everything was back to normal. Her crop stopped bulging and everything went back to normal. I went off of chicken death watch and life resumed.
When the layer’s coop was finished we decided to keep Itty Bitty with the big girls on moving day (the Wyandottes were still tiny and staying in the brooder a bit longer). She still was pretty small and had really bonded with the girls so I figured it would be best to keep her in a calm and happy environment. She just loved the new space and was one of the first to venture outside.
A couple of days later, I noticed her crop bulging again. Oy. I rounded her up and took her back to the brooder so we could keep an eye on her. She got some more mineral oil and massage and spent a few days with the little ones. Apparently that is all she needed and it didn’t take long for her to get back to normal and back outside with her big girl friends. She very clearly regards the Wyandottes as underlings even though they’ve passed her up in size.
Please try not to be jealous of my mad photoshop skills, K?
For scales sake, I wanted to show you the size difference between Itty Bitty and Bjork. They are within a day or so of having the same birthday and their size difference is laughable. Understandably, they are not the same breed and are completely different birds but still it’s funny. She does try to have stand offs with Bjork. She hasn’t won any that I’ve seen, but I admire her spunk.
Itty Bitty will probably always be in the layer coop. She’s wormed her way into my heart and I enjoy watching her pushy little self doing her best to be at the top of the pecking chain.
I wish her a long life of health and happiness.
I wouldn’t complain if there were some eggs involved as well.