Baby Chick Has A Swollen Crop (Why + What To Do)

Humans and birds have very different digestive systems. Both humans and birds have to digest what we eat but how we do this greatly differs. Yet, just like humans, birds can develop digestive issues as well. One important part of a birds digestive system is the crop, the crop is where food is stored before it enters into the birds two stomachs. Baby birds have crops just as adult birds do, the crop is usually flat if not filled with food. Sometimes it can seem like your baby birds crop is swollen, this article explores the question of ‘Baby chick has a swollen crop, why this happens.’ 

If a baby bird has a swollen crop the reasons behind this are either 1. the bird has an impacted crop, 2. sour crop if the bird is emitting a sour smell along with the swollen crop or 3. a pendulous crop if the bird has been suffering from a swollen crop consistently 

Baby chick has a swollen crop, why this happens

After eating, your baby birds crop should look swollen. When birds eat, their food is stored in the crop, food is also stored and moistened in the crop. The crop naturally looks smaller and deflated in the morning, before the bird has eaten. If the crop is still full from the day before, then the bird may be suffering from an impacted crop, pendulous crop or sour crop 

An impacted crop develops when a bird eats too much food too quickly, or if the bird eats materials that cannot be passed through the crop, when this happens the crop becomes blocked and looks swollen. A pendulous crop develops when a crop is constantly swollen to a point where it cannot contract and empty anymore. Sour crop develops when an infection develops in the crop when food stuck in the crop ferments. 

If your baby birds crop is simply swollen, and there are no odors coming from the bird, and this swelling is uncommon for your bird, then it is likely suffering from an impacted crop. Other causes of an impacted crop include birds ingesting large pieces of tough food such as meat or corncobs, eating a lot of food too quickly or eating foreign objects such as pieces of metal, plastic or rubber bands. These foods and objects cannot pass through the crop easily, they become stuck in the bird’s crop and make it swell up

How do you treat an impacted crop on a baby chick?

One way of treating the birds impacted crop is by gently massaging it. Massaging the crop helps to empty the crop. 

To help the food go down, you’d need to first lubricate the bird’s oesophagus and crop. Do this by warming up olive oil and syringing the warm oil into the bird’s mouth. When syringing, do so drop by drop. Allow the oil to lubricate the bird’s oesophagus and crop for 10 minutes before you begin to massage the crop. After the 10 minutes are up you can start to gently massage the crop in an upward direction. 

This treatment will be most effective if you do it a couple of times a day over a few days. Ensure that the bird has access to water over the days that you’re massaging it’s crop and do not give it foods that are difficult to digest 

If this treatment does not work after a few days then it is highly recommended that you have the bird seen by a vet. The vet will be able to assess the bird and treat the impacted crop or guide you as to what to do to treat your bird further. Treatment can sometimes mean surgery if the impaction is too large to pass through the bird’s crop. 

Warning: If you are not an experienced person then you should not try to massage the bird’s crop in hopes of emptying it. Doing this incorrectly can cause the bird to suffocate or aspirate from the food entering its lungs 


In conclusion, if your baby birds swollen crop is not accompanied by a bad smell from the mouth, and the swelling is uncommon in your bird, then the bird is likely suffering from an impacted crop. The treatment for an impacted crop is lubricating the baby birds oesophagus and crop with warm olive oil and gently massaging the crop. If you are unable to massage the bird’s crop, or if the crop is not emptying after a couple of days of massage, then it is recommended that you take your bird to a vet.

If you enjoyed this article then you may also be interested in other baby bird related articles. Here are some articles that you may be interested in: Baby bird crop too full, why and what to do, Baby bird crop not emptying, reasons why this happens, Baby bird crop full of air, why and what to do,

Baby Chick Has A Swollen Crop (Why + What To Do)
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