Our girl, Hazel, has made a full recovery, from what exactly, I don't know. It started about three weeks ago with sour crop and morphed into something else entirely. I suspect that she developed sour crop from eating all of the timothy hay that I used to fill the nestboxes. I couldn't get straw and I don't like to use wood shavings so I picked up timothy hay from a pet store. It didn't help any that I had never made grit available to the birds. Birds don't have teeth to break down food. Instead, they eat grit which rolls around with the food and works as a rough equivalent for teeth.
How did I know she had sour crop? A few days after she gorged on the hay her crop became soft and squishy and huge. Her breath was wicked wretched. I cannot emphasize just how foul it was. When I jiggled her crop you could hear the fluid sloshing around. She threw up a lot, probably close to a cup that first day. Looking back on all of this, I'm surprised I didn't drop dead from the sheer horror of it all.
The sour crop cleared up with a kefir-yogurt-powdered green tea only diet for 2 days. I also had to manually empty her crop which I won't go into here. There seemed to be some slight improvement but then she began to have weakness in her legs, she was wobbly and stumbling, lost her appetite, continued to lose weight and at it's worst, her eyes weren't "right". A trip to the vet that I work with and a few x-rays ruled out an obstruction or tumor or egg binding but showed what looked like polyostotic hypertosis. I won't even pretend to know what that is. It's something with her bones. They look mottled. How's that for vague? "It all goes back to the ovaries," the radiologist said. They also gave her sub-q fluids and that seemed to make her feel better for a day.
I put her on the antibiotics that were recommended but did not keep her on them for as long as was recommended. I used it for three and a half days instead of a full week. She was depressed being in isolation and her appetite improved when I let her rejoin her flock. She was still stumbling and tripping for several days. I kept waiting for her to give me a sign that it was time to cull her, instead, she began to get better - her drinking and eating kept improving, she stumbled less. I made sure she was getting water by giving her watermelon which she absolutely loves. And tonight, for the first time in three weeks, she ran full throttle towards me from the far end of the yard when she saw that I had a fistful of collard greens for her. She even gave one of the Sussex a sharp rap on the head when she was tearing into the collards. The lady is back!
I know this is a recap for anyone that's been reading all along but I can see that there are people finding my blog by searching for help with sour crop so I thought I'd post this summary of Hazel's illness. Again, I'm not sure how the sour crop spun out of control. One of the doctors theorized that she may have had low potassium or calcium levels and that made her stumble. I think that adding apple cider vinegar to her water and putting her on a kefir & yogurt diet helped immensely. They neutralize the ph in the gut and crop.
It took a good three weeks for her to recover but you'd never know she was down by looking at her. She hasn't laid any eggs since all this happened and I don't know if she ever will. Our other Buff Orpington has quit laying already and she's only 2 yrs old. The Sussex and Delawares are our strongest layers. But you can't beat an Orpington for friendliness. They are The Ambassadors of The Backyard Chicken. Long live The Ambassador!