A Full Crop

As I mentioned in the previous post, the girls have been doing some gardening in the pumpkin patch. Beryl was a particularly big eater hard worker.

Buff Orpingtons are curvaceous hens (the breed standard calls for a “deep and massive body.”) A Buff O looks rather like the big fat hen illustrated in old children’s books.

Here is a side-view of Beryl’s voluptuous physique. Although she wasn’t exactly svelte to begin with, twenty minutes in the pumpkin patch plumped her right out.

Beryl has recently finished molting, so she looks especially soft and full. I think that this season’s two-toned winter coat is quite stylish.

Sometimes people new to chickens don’t realize how much a hen can down in a short period of time. They don’t understand that the first stop along the way is an expandable pouch at the base of the neck called the crop. I’ve had people email in a panic, thinking that their hens had tumors.

Rest assured, she’s simply had a lot to eat.

A full crop is not an impacted crop. Sometimes what a hen eats becomes a compacted mass in the crop which can’t then proceed further down the intestinal tract. Any one item, eaten to excess, can cause impacted crops. This is one reason why it’s good for hens to work for their treats (and not to down a handful of corn in one feeding frenzy) and to consume a variety of foodstuffs. Long and tough foods are problematic. Grass clippings, strands of meadow grass, scallions, and sunflower seeds with hulls, can all lead to impaction, especially if gorged on when the crop is empty. (This is why I like my hens to eat a breakfast of laying hen pellets before going off to forage.)  If the crop is impacted then the hen can’t eat of drink. She’ll quickly look distressed. She might become listless. She might stretch her neck up and gape. Gently massaging the crop, and getting a bit of olive oil down there (read this post and watch the video on dosing a hen) can help.



  1. She is a beauty… My Buff O. is particularly large she is the epitome of you think of when you think of a hen.

  2. Beryl’s two toned winter coat is very pretty. I got Tilly Lays an Egg yesterday. I love it, it is so cute. I can’t wait to read it to some children and let them find the eggs. I love your vintage chicken collection!

  3. WOW…..She had MAJOR fun in the pumpkin patch! That is the BIGGEST crop I have seen in a while! LOVE her two-tone fur coat…very chic!

  4. My old Wyandotte’s crop gets so big that it swings like a low slung bosom when she runs and throws her out of kilter a bit -she has to throw in an extra hop to get herself back under control!

  5. Thank you for posting this, Terry. I never quite understood just where the crop is until these photos. Beryl is very beautiful and obviously a hard working hen.

  6. I love your blog, your posts, your pictures, your chickens and your furry friends! Thanks for all the joy you give us each day.

  7. I have to laugh. A guilty pleasure is watching a chicken with a FULL CROP running, better yet in slow motion. Hilarious!

  8. Wow! It does look like Beryl’s been working extra hard in the garden. I love that two-toned look she’s got going on this season. Hunh. I wonder what makes that happen.