Crop Stasis or Sour Crop in Birds

Crop stasis is a disorder of unweaned or hand-fed baby birds. It is due to the failure of the crop to empty of food, resulting in the fermentation of food. This leads to secondary yeast (especially Candida) and bacterial infections and while not usually fatal when treated early, crop infections can be serious. Sour crop is another term for crop infection.

What causes crop stasis?

Crop stasis is usually due to incorrect feeding habits or overfeeding, poor hygiene, or a primary viral infection. Incorrect feeding habits include excessively hot or cold food and insufficient fluids leading to dehydration. Environmental stress, such as temperature and humidity or strong light, can contribute to the problem. Other problems that can occur include crop burns (from feeding overheated formula), crop lacerations (from incorrect feeding technique) and entrapment of foreign objects in the crop.

How is crop stasis diagnosed?

Regurgitation of crop contents and loss of appetite in young birds is suggestive of crop stasis or a crop infection. Crop samples can be examined by your veterinarian to look for secondary infections that require treatment.

What is the treatment for crop stasis?

Crop stasis is a serious, life-threatening condition and treatment by an avian veterinarian is required. Treatment consists of emptying the crop using a crop needle, flushing with sterile saline and giving appropriate antibiotic or anti-fungal medication. Dehydration is corrected by giving fluids, and the bird is kept warm. Feeding is resumed with a more watery formula to allow gut activity to resume. A low residue, high energy diet such as Vetafarm Poly Aid Plus or Passwell First Aid for Birds may be used. Once the crop is emptying normally, a good quality hand-rearing food can be introduced, such as Vetafarm Neocare or Passwell Hand Rearing Food.

Sometimes crop impaction occurs when a ball of food gets lodged in the crop. Fluid can be introduced into the crop and the impaction massaged to break it up. Impactions that cannot be dislodged in this way, crop burns, lacerations, and entrapment of foreign objects in the crop may require a combination of medical and surgical therapy.

Crop stasis is a true emergency, so it is important to seek help from your avian vet immediately.

Dr Bob Doneley BVSc FANZCVS (Avian Medicine) CMAVA

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