Adventures in chicken keeping: a case of sauer crop & a Gartner snake!

When I went out yesterday morning, I noticed my rhode island red just wasn't acting right. So I moved her into a dog crate so she can rest and I can keep a closer eye on her. 

She's holding her wings down, her tail is down and just didnt seem like she had energy. I took a small handful of scratch and put it in the crate, and she wasnt interested. She has a bulge at the base of her neck.

 So I google sauer crop, which I know is a common problem in chickens. The crop is a holding area for food at the base of the neck just before the gizzard where the chickens "chew" their food as they don't have teeth. They have to swallow very small rocks or grit to help break down their food. If their food gets stuck in the crop, it starts to ferment, and can give off a sour smell. (My husband and I have spring allergies right now, so it makes it harder to smell this issue) I looked up how to treat it. Gently massage her neck upward & feed plain yogurt. Fortunately, I was just given some yogurt this week, so I had some on hand. I usually don't have plain yogurt unless I have a lot of fruit already I need to use. I gave her yogurt and went out several times to message her neck. (In the evening, I put her back in the coop.)

In the afternoon,  I went out to refill the rest of the flock's water, I notice a small gartner snake on the backside of the coop. Based on it's small size, I didn't think it would hurt my chickens, but I really don't want to find it when reaching for eggs. Gartner snakes aren't poisonous, actually we are fortunate that most Ohio snakes are not poisonous, but I still am not a fan. I know they get mice and bugs and all that, but I'd rather not see them. This one was interested in my chickens,  so it had  to go. I had a pitchfork nearby,  so I grabbed it and jabbed. Not only did I miss, I scared it into the chicken run, towards the entrance into the coop. Crap. I run to get my husband. He grabs a shovel on the way out. 2 of my hens have the snake cornered. Hubby gets kills it with a shovel, then a few of the hens start pecking at it while its muscles are still releasing the last of its energy. We look up "chickens vs Gartner snake". Turns out they definitely do not get big enough to eat a full size chicken so you only have to worry about eggs and small chickens (we have eggs and our neighbors have chicks, so we wanted this snake gone anyways). But it turns out that adult chickens can usually handle their own on a small snake and would have ganged up on it to get it, as they did when hubby got it. 

The property behind us is currently overgrown, and our coop sits on the back of our property where theres some shade for them, so I knew it was only a matter of 
time before we saw a snake. It's a peace of mind to know that they can hold their own against this predator and I won't have to really worry until we start with chicks. 

I went out the next morning and our rhode island red is doing much better. I will definitely be making sure I always have yogurt in the house now! 

Hope you had a great weekend!


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