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What are Crop Stasis?

Hand-fed chicks commonly have issues with crop stasis and impaction. With this condition, your bird’s food is not moving through the digestive tract as it is supposed to and it creates a barrier that eventually stops anything from getting through. If not treated right away, a secondary bacterial, fungal, or yeast infection may occur and that will shut down the digestive system completely. This is very serious and needs immediate veterinary care. The impaction of the crop is usually from formula separation, which is caused by neonate formula being too cold or not mixed completely. Some cases of crop stasis are from the chicks ingesting materials such as bedding or other items that block the crop from draining properly. A visit with an avian veterinary professional is needed to confirm this.

Crop stasis (crop impaction, sour crop) refers to the reduction or complete stoppage of the flow from the crop to the rest of the digestive tract. This is similar to intestinal obstruction in humans and can be just as dangerous. In fact, if not treated in a timely matter, this condition will lead to death. It can affect any sex, age, and breed but is mostly found in neonates (chicks) and juvenile birds under six months old. This may be caused by a number of different factors, including dehydration, infection, or feeding the chicks with formula that is too cold. Some of the signs may be recurrent diarrhea, regurgitation, or you may be able to see a full crop that is not emptying. Complications include secondary infection, hypoglycemia, severe dehydration, or aspiration of food. Any one of these can be fatal for your bird.

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Symptoms of Crop Stasis in Birds

The most obvious sign is a full crop, but there are several other signs you may notice such as:

  • Crop full for an extended period of time (over 24 hours)
  • General ill appearance
  • Lack of appetite
  • Frequent regurgitation or vomiting
  • Inactivity
  • Dehydration
  • Fluffing up
  • Diarrhea
  • Agitation
  • Depression

Types

  • Crop Stasis is a term used when the crop is slow to empty, but some food and water is getting through
  • Impaction is what follows, which is a complete blockage of the crop from the rest of the digestive tract; this is a life threatening emergency

Causes of Crop Stasis in Birds

There are many causes of crop stasis, some of which include:

  • Dehydration
  • Ingesting foreign material
  • Infection
  • Overfeeding (this can stretch the crop)
  • Formula that is too cold or not mixed right
  • Environmental temperature too low
  • Heavy metal toxicity

Diagnosis of Crop Stasis in Birds

If you think your bird has crop stasis, it is important to get it checked by an avian veterinary professional. They are more familiar with all things avian and are better prepared to treat this condition. Because crop stasis can be fatal if not treated right away, it is better to see a veterinarian as soon as you think there is a problem. Do not wait longer than 24 hours because an infection caused by the material in the crop can become infected quickly. The veterinarian will perform a normal physical examination including palpation and auscultation of the crop and digestive system. 

Sometimes, the veterinarian will choose to use a fine needle to collect some material from the crop to analyze microscopically and for cultures. A contrast study may also be helpful in checking the contents of the crop. This is done by administering barium sulphate before performing radiographs, CT scans, or an ultrasound. In addition, a plasma chemistry panel and complete blood count will be performed to check for underlying problems or conditions. To get a better look at your bird’s esophagus, the veterinarian will probably use a lighted endoscope to perform an endoscopy. Your bird will be anesthetized during these procedures for better results and less stress for everyone.

Treatment of Crop Stasis in Birds

Whether your bird’s condition is caused by an underlying problem such as an infection or from overfeeding, treatment is needed to empty the crop. The veterinarian will most likely try a warm water massage to promote automatic emptying. However, if this does not work, a crop needle or feeding tube can be used to remove as much as possible of whatever is left. Medications and fluids are usually given and surgery is a necessity if the veterinarian is unable to manually remove the material.

Fluids and Medication

To promote flushing of the crop, the veterinarian will give intravenous (IV) fluids. This also helps prevent dehydration. Antibiotics, antifungals, and electrolytes may also be administered.

Surgery

If the crop is not emptying, the veterinarian will have to operate to manually remove the contents. This is done by incising the crop and removing the materials from the crop.

Recovery of Crop Stasis in Birds

Your bird’s prognosis is good if you get treatment right away and there is no infection. This condition tends to recur due to the stretching of the crop, but your veterinarian can help you learn how to prevent it.

Crop Stasis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Coco
Budgerigar
2 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Fluffing up
Depression
Regurgitation
Inactivity

Medication Used

antibiotics

My budgie never looks like she has a full crop but has all of these symptoms. She still eats a lot, but uncontrollably regurgitates seed all over the floor/her head several times a day. I tried to take off the seed on her head but it was impossible. It won’t come off unless she goes through a shed. She has been non active for months now, ever since she started to have these symptoms. She sleeps puffed up for the majority of everyday and rarely chirps. When I have seed on my hand, she goes on my hand and eats, but won’t let me go anywhere close to her when I don’t have food.

She was taken to an avian vet already, who couldn’t figure out the reason for all of this, but prescribed her with antibiotics for two weeks and gave her one hydration shot. (He assumed it was a bacterial infection.) She is super underweight at 22 grams now, while before she was 28-30 grams.

She lives with my other male budgie, who is completely fine though. My other budgie is super active, chirps non-stop, almost completely tame, and never regurgitates seed uncontrollably.

Is crop stasis contagious towards other budgies? Does she have crop stasis?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
There are many different causes for crop stasis including infectious and non-infectious causes; it does sound like crop stasis but I do not know what the specific cause of the stasis is which may include infections, poisoning, foreign objects, over feeding, dehydration among many other causes. If your Avian Veterinarian was unable to determine a cause, I am not sure what the cause may be. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Hi coco’s owner,

My budgie has the same symptoms and is on day 5 of antibiotics without an improvement in symptoms. How is coco doing? Did anything else help?

-Chloe

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BeeBop
Budgie
2 Years
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Unsociable behavior
Full crop
Messy appearance

My budgie BeeBop has been having a full crop lately (the past week or so). It appears extended, feels squishy, he looks disheveled, and he acts "stuffed" but in 15 mins to half an hour it goes down and he acts completely fine again. I am wondering if it is because he is trying to regurgitate to my other budgie Tango and it is getting stuck? I am concerned why it keeps happening.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Issues with a swollen crop may be an indicator of an issue further down the gastrointestinal tract; also poor food quality, infections, obstructions, parasites and toxins may also contribute to a swollen crop. I’m not quite sure it is occurring due to him attempting to regurgitate but rather due to another cause. Since this is a recurring issue, you should have your Veterinarian check BeeBop over to be on the safe side to look for any other possible causes. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Diamond
Derbyan
15 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

has a "fluffy" crop

I have a 15 yr old Derbyan who has a "fluffy" crop. He has been with me for 16 months. I was away last week and I think he may have picked on a boing I recently put in his cage mostly covered with vet tape but a few uncovered spots were a little shredded when I got back on Tues PM. He talks-a lot. I noticed his voice was not as clear as usual and the pet sitter said he didn't eat a lot while I was gone. I watched him all day Weds. He wasn't eating a lot so I gave him some organic green juice with a syringe. He perked up a bit and ate some apple, too. I noticed the crop was still fluffy and my vet's office is closed today and unavailable. I have other birds and pets and had some liquid clindamyacin so I gave him 1/2 dropper last night and he seemed a bit better this am. So I gave him another 1/2 dropper (about 25 mg) this am. I took him on the porch (80 in FL this am) and gave him a spray shower to see if he would preen. He did. He is perching but not playing with his toys or making toothpicks out of his wooden toys.I also put some ACV in one of his 2 water bowls. His voice is a bit sharper today but still not as clear as usual. I am thinking of getting some organic baby food and syringe feeding him that. He does not look skinny.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
It would be best to wait until your Veterinarian opens so that they can examine Diamond, without examining Diamond myself I cannot prescribe any course of treatment or condone the use of the clindamycin. It seems like he is perking up, but a check over would be good to ensure that he is on the right track. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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