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Slow Crop
Written by Donna Mason
REVISED: 9-9-97

"Slow Crop" is when the baby bird's crop does not empty at the normal rate. Sometimes slow crop is a symptom of another illness, instead of being the actual ailment. Regardless of the cause, slow crop must be dealt with as soon as it is detected to prevent dehydration and starvation. Contact your veternarian immediately.

Improper handfeeding techniques can also cause slow crop. If the handfeeding formula is too cold, the bird becomes chilled and the system slows down, thus the crop will not empty. This may also happen if the brooder is not warm enough. Never let the baby bird become chilled.

The method of encouraging the crop to empty normally that we have found to effective is very simple, but may be time comsuming. Wanda Barras, from Cage'n Bird in Martinville, LA gave us this tip. Mrs. Barras may be reached at (318)394-6683.

If it will be several hours before you can see the veternarian, you may want to take a fresh papaya; peal and remove the seeds. Grind or crush the papaya into a pulp. Mix 1 part papaya pulp, 1 part Pedialyte or Lactated Ringers Solution (available at Cage'n Bird). Warm this mixture to the appropriate temperature (103-108 degrees). Offer small amounts of this mixture (30-50% of normal intake) to the baby bird very often. If he will take it every 10-20 minutes, feed it to him. DO NOT FEED FORMULA UNTIL THE CROP IS EMPTY! Do not give up, even if it takes all day before the crop empties completely.

Once the crop has emptied, we mix the formula with the following ratio: 1 part formula, 1 part papaya mixture, 1 -1 1/2 parts Pedialyte or Lactated Ringers Solution. Warm to the appropriate temperature and feed a small amount of this mixture to the baby bird. If the crop empties within a reasonable amount of time, we continue to decrease the amount of the papaya mixture until we are back to mixing the formula by the manufacturers directions. We increase the feeding amount slowly. Of course, you will have to feed more often.

*If the crop does not empty normally when the formula is reintroduced, go back to the papaya mixture and try again.

**If you believe your bird is ill, call your veternarian immediately.


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  • Wanda Barra, Cage'n Bird, St. Martinville, LA
  • A Guide to Cockatiels and Their Mutations.... By Peggy Cross and Diane Andersen.
  • You and Your Pet Bird by David Alderton
  • The New Cockatiel Handbook... By Matthew Vriends, PHD
  • Diseases of Cage & Aviary Birds By Walter J. Rosskopf (editor) and Richard W. Woerpel (editor)
  • Dr. Tom Tester, DMV, Hayden Lake, Id
  • Avitec Exotic Birds

Graphics by Bimsan
Graphics by Bimsan