Post #369

Sour crop

16th April 2004, mid-afternoon | Comments (22)

Preface: The average man, when confronted by a chap demanding that he Pretend to be a chicken, might be forgiven for laughing like an asthmatic mule, and backing nervously away. For, along with trying to swat imaginary flies, making such requests is one of the eight sure-fire ways of being marked down as a looney. And on the whole people aren’t too keen to engage with loonies.

That said, not everyone begging you to “be the chicken” should be immediately flagged as mad. Instructors in the dramatic arts; remarkably empathic vets; sexual deviants: these are people who might legitimately spout forth such nonsense — but you certainly don’t expect to hear it from your next door neighbour, your co-worker, or the lady who serves you coffee each morning. No, sir. Not them. If “Shauna” tries offering up method acting advice along with your Vanilla Latte she’ll soon find herself out of a job — Starbucks just doesn’t stand for that kind of behaviour, and neither should you.

However, in a short while you are going to read a sentence asking that very thing of you, that you “pretend to be a chicken.” I do not want you to flee. I do not want you to scoff. I do not want you to think any worse of me. I simply want you to pretend. Just pretend…

A speckley chicken

A painting of a chicken

Let’s pretend for a moment, that you are a chicken. The colour or type isn’t important, but to aid your imagination let’s say it’s grey and white, a speckley one. I’ve even drawn it for you, over there →

So, you’re a chicken, and your owner has kept you locked in the run for the last few months because there’s been a fox sniffing around, but today she opens the gates, and shoos you out.

The sun is blazing, the skies are blue, the grass is beautifully green. There are things to cluck at, things to stand on, and things to rake around with your foot. It’s a hell of a day to be a chicken…

You realise you’re feeling peckish, so you wander over to the orchard where you find shade, lush grass, and a remarkable quantity of fallen apples. With a happy sigh you settle down next to your insalata verde, and tuck in.

An hour or two passes. You’ve grown a little warm in the mid-day sun and are thinking of taking a break, when suddenly you burp. Then your tummy rumbles. You squawk. You burp again. You find it hard to swallow. Then you fall over.

What on earth is the matter with you? What can be happening?

I’ll tell you what; you’ve got Sour Crop.

Sour Crop: the hard facts

A diagram of a chicken showing the crop

The Chook Doctor explains:

[Sour Crop] is a common problem with hens, especially if they are allowed to graze on grass when they are first released. These birds are not used to eating such natural foods, so they tend not to know how to do it properly. Long strands of grass in the crops of such birds often are unable to pass through the digestive system, [so they] bind in the crop and ferment.

A quick method of telling whether a chicken has Sour Crop or not is to gently squeeze it and sniff the air that’s expelled from its mouth. If the bird has Sour Crop then the air will smell awful, if not… well, I don’t suppose a chicken smells very nice anyway, but apparently la différence d’odeur is marked. (Of course, sniffing chickens is also one of the eight sure-fire ways of being marked down as a looney, but we’ll put that aside for the moment.)

Fear not, help is at hand

Luckily for you my mother has a cure for Sour Crop. First she grabs you (this isn’t hard because you’re just lying there burping), then she sticks a tube down your throat, and pours a mixture of yogurt and olive oil into you.

That done, she takes hold of your feet, hangs you upside down, and massages your stomach and crop until lots of green and white muck comes pouring out of you.

Finally she flips you the right way up, pats you on the head, and puts you down. You ruffle your feathers, squawk a bit, ruffle your feathers some more, and then walk off in as dignified a manner as you can muster.

It’s a tough life, being a chicken.

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Comments (22)

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  1. Katie:

    “…you’re feeling peckish…”

    Terrible. :)

    Posted 29 minutes after the fact
  2. Mattymcg:

    I never thought that the detailed digestive dilemnas of the Gallus genus could ever be explained in such an entertaining way... thanks Dunstan!

    Posted 34 minutes after the fact
  3. Liz:

    Is the pat on the head part of the cure, or more "sorry 'bout hanging you upside down just then"? That bit sounds very nice.

    Posted 41 minutes after the fact
  4. Debbie:

    How on earth did anyone, ever, come up with Olive Oil and Yoghurt as a remedy for an ailing chicken?

    Another fun read, Dunstan, and I like the drawing, too.

    Posted 53 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan, ↓ David House
  5. Daniel:

    I don't know much about chickens other than that the lay eggs and come in many varieties, but this was probably the most interesting thing I've learned all day - which, by the way, I spent at the university.

    Posted 1 hour after the fact
  6. Dunstan:

    I think the oil and yogurt are used becauese the fermenting food causes an acidic buildup in the crop, and that helps to counteract that.

    Posted 1 hour, 12 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Debbie
    Inspired: ↓ Sparticus
  7. David House:

    Likewise, who was the first person to look at a chicken and think, 'I have a fantastic idea! I'll feed and water that flappy thing, then cook and eat the first thing that comes out of its arse!'

    Posted 1 hour, 51 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Debbie
    Inspired: ↓ Debbie
  8. Sparticus:

    Surely if it is acidic you should pour a lot of baking soda down it's throat and watch as it erupts like a primary school science fair project?

    Posted 2 hours, 22 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Dunstan
  9. Kitta:

    I'm glad I'm not a chicken.

    We used to own a few chickens when I was very little, and I can’t remember them having Sour Crop, but I do remember my father having to kill a few of them one day when they were ill.

    Posted 3 hours, 4 minutes after the fact
  10. JJ Doughboy:

    Man, compare this to humans...

    What if the vegetarians all started eating meat. They would all die if we had this ailment. I guess that would put an end to all those who say don't eat meat. And that would be a sad day.

    Then again, posting that comment on this site might be one of the 8 sure fire ways to get marked as a looney. (to late)

    Posted 3 hours, 15 minutes after the fact
  11. Debbie:

    David, have you unleashed that nagging question: Which one came first...the Chicken, or the Egg? Or have you answered it??

    Posted 5 hours, 26 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ David House
    Inspired: ↓ Stefan
  12. Waylman:

    I'm curious, what are the six other "sure-fire ways of being marked down as a looney"?

    Dunstan, as you seem to be the expert in such things, I thought I'de ask.

    Entertaining stuff, btw.

    Posted 5 hours, 56 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ David House, ↓ Dunstan
  13. Stefan:

    Please, don't get me started on that one. ;) To keep it simple (and not being marked down as a looney), the egg came first.

    There, mistery solved. ;)

    Say Dunstan, I really like the whole enactment of Le Poulet. :) Maybe we could re-enact the very first thanksgiving, or the crucifiction of christ? I heard that's the thing these days. Or a mixture of both. Crucifing the turkey, perhaps?

    Anyways, I'm off to bed, and a haircut. After my midnightsleep, ofcourse. Wouldn't want to get my hair cut in bed, must be very annoying, all that hair poking about my underwear.

    Posted 8 hours, 27 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Debbie
  14. Phil Baines:

    Yeah Dunstan, I am interested in the other sure ways of being marked a looney also. Maybe it can become a new series of yours?

    'The One Sure Way Of Being Marked A Looney Of The Week'

    If you need any help in coming up with some, there is always the 'having hair on the palms of your hands' one.


    Posted 9 hours, 47 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ David House, ↓ Dunstan
  15. David House:

    I can give you a couple:

    No 1. Hair on the palm of your hand
    No 2. Looking for it

    (okay, so it works better when said rather than written :))

    Posted 1 day, 4 hours after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Waylman, ↑ Phil Baines
  16. Rick Yribe:

    Your posts never cease to amuse, Dunstan.

    Posted 1 day, 14 hours after the fact
  17. Sian:

    Hehehe. I can just imagine a chicken burping.

    Posted 1 day, 23 hours after the fact
  18. Margaret:

    that third paragraph is my favorite paragraph ever.

    Posted 2 days, 3 hours after the fact
  19. Dunstan:

    So far my research has found the following quoted as signs of lunacy:

    [1] throwing stones at strangers
    [2] regressing into childhood
    [3] infatuation with distorting your face in the mirror
    [4] a moon fetish
    [5] disgusting table manners

    With the addition of the three I mention in the post, that's your eight definitive signs of lunacy. Keep an eye out for them.

    Posted 2 days, 4 hours after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Waylman, ↑ Phil Baines
    Inspired: ↓ Phil Baines
  20. Phil Baines:

    "infatuation with distorting your face in the mirror"

    Ahem, I was just doing that. I'm worried for me own sanity now. Ohhh, loooook, the moooooon!

    Posted 2 days, 9 hours after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Dunstan
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  21. Dunstan:

    That had me giggling away this morning :oD

    Posted 2 days, 17 hours after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Phil Baines
  22. Paul G:

    Ye gods, I think I've just found myself simultaneously highly entertained and thouroughly appalled.

    Now, if I could just figure out why the former sentiment seems to follow the latter on such a regular basis, maybe I wouldn't feel like such a loony...

    Posted 2 days, 23 hours after the fact

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