Cockatiel Crop Problems

Shared by Jackie Collins: Amy lost one of the babies (the one with the total crop stasis) last night. She is having a necropsy done today.

I also wanted to give you a brief background on them; in the event their history could help others. The oldest two were pulled 4 weeks ago. There was a big difference in the ages between them and the other four in the nest, so the younger ones weren’t being fed.

A week after being pulled the oldest one started refusing to eat. Amy took it to a board certified avian vet, who ran a fecal gram stain and found nothing. Then the crop stopped emptying completely, so two days later he went back to the vet. This time his crop was evacuated and 10 cc of formula was pulled out. A gram stain from a crop flush showed some bacteria and yeast. He was started on Bactrim and Nystatin. The crop was then emptied each morning by tube suction and the bird at 4 weeks weighed 98 grams. He weaned himself at 4 weeks of age refusing handfeeding formula. He is doing fine now.

The parents stopped feeding the four left in the nest, so Amy pulled them. Two days later two of them had slow crop movement. Back to the vet. I don’t remember all the details but I know that they were on three different antibiotics, starting with Bactrim, switched to Cephalosporin injected, when that wasn’t working then switched to injected Baytril. Two different antifungals, Nystatin and Itraconazol, three different motility stimulants, and three different digestive enzymes, and three different hand feeding formulas, all to no avail.

Amy was going to the vets two and three times a week for the last two weeks. Pulling old food out of their crops, feeding cereal and pedelite, papaya etc. We had all run out of things to try, every one was stumped, and then I read your post and it all fit except that Amy’s adult birds were not on pellets. They received seed and soft food with a vitamin on the softfood, and there was no mucus in the crop of the babies.

What is interesting is that of the six birds of the three with the problem two are cinnamon pieds one a normal pied. The healthy three are normal pieds.

The smallest at four weeks of age weighs 34 grams. His crop is still moving slowly. When Amy’s vet said that if it was calcium/ Vitamin D problem that there was nothing she could do about it, I called my vet, who gave me the recipe that Dr. Brian Spear uses to pull Macaw babies out of stunting and Vitamin D3 intolerance. She had used it with good results a few weeks ago in a crashing macaw baby.

Strained baby food:

1 jar creamed corn 1 jar apple sauce 1 jar garden vegetables 4 hard-boiled egg yokes

Never let the bird empty, don’t pull the old food, and just keep putting new in. It is more important to get the nutrition in them than to empty the crop or wait till the crop is empty. Feed often.

This is what Amy is now doing, so will let you know what the outcome is and what the necropsy shows, but think it will take histo to get any real answers, and that takes several days.

Thank you so much for giving us something else to try.

Just as I was sending this Amy called with the gross results. Everything looked good except the liver margins are enlarged.

Sincerely, Jackie

Gloria previously wrote

>Hi Jackie, The problem of hypercalcemia looks very much like yeast infection. One >of the things that happens is the crop will fill up with a mucusy fluid >so it looks like the crop is full…it is, but not with food. There is so much mucus in there that there is no room for food. I was only able >to keep the babies alive as long as I did by expressing the mucus from >the crops, washing with warm water, and then filling with formula. Unfortunately the formula was killing them. Once I knew that they had too much calcium/D3 in the diet, I tried to >grind straight hulled sunflower seeds, mix them with water and feed>them, but it didn’t work. Susanne suggested using baby food cereal that >has not been fortified with calcium or D3. That might work. Another thing you could try feeding them (someone told me this worked for them) is Gerber baby food pure chicken…unfortified. That gives protein and other nutrients. Meat protein takes calcium out of the system because it is >high in phosphorous. People on high protein diets need to supplement with calcium/D3, so the protein baby food might have worked. By the time I heard about it, though, my babies had all died. This might work for Amy *IF* the problem really is calcium/D3. good luck and keep me posted. gloria

Jackie wrote:

Hi Gloria, I just read your post about your sick cockatiels and the organ failure. I have a friend who has been fighting a problem that sounds just like the one you had. I sent her your post and she called her vet who said she didn’t think that was the problem, and if it was, that there was nothing she could do about it.

One of her babies crops is moving very slowly without complete emptying and the others crop has stopped emptying completely. I am on digest so am sorry I am posting this to you directly, but feel free to post this on the list to answer. I wasn’t able to post to the list before, something to do with my mail server. >> Amy has been taking these babies to a vet for over 2 weeks and nothing has made a difference, they are starving to death. They are cinnamon pieds.

Is there any thing you could suggest for her to try?



The histopath came back with aspiration pneumonia as the only thing wrong with the baby. On gross it was noticed that the lungs had matter in them, but wasn’t considered unusual as we knew the bird had started regurgitating 24 to 48 hours before death.

Histopath showed that the matter was very old and presume that the birds had started regurgitating in the nest. A breeder/vet friend said that it has happened before with him and inexperienced parent birds.

Dr Fiskett said that she had had a couple of clutches of cockateils that had the same problem, and she was able to successfully treat it with DMSO.

The dead baby had no sign of a secondary bacterial infection, as a result of being on antibiotics for so long, I guess. The DMSO as an inti-inflammatory, seems like a good antidote.

I have used it topically for years to get antibiotics into animals with infections in areas that are not supplied by a good blood vein, such the feet and legs of birds, and turtles with shell necrosis. I never used it orally, but that is what Dr. Fiskett did. It was mixed with hand feeding formula and tube fed into the crop. Dr. Fiskett said it normally took only one treatment to resolve the problem.

Amy’s bird is so far down, I don’t know if it is a good test of the procedure. It still weighs only 34 grams and is going on five weeks old. Now that Vit. D intolerance is not a concern; she has started adding Instant Ounces to the hand feeding formula. I spoke with her yesterday and she said that she thought the baby was having larger poops, but the crop was still moving slowly.

I forgot to mention in my last post that Amy was giving Sub Q fluids every three hours around the clock. With Dr. Spears baby food formula she still pulled out the old food twice a day and replaced it with fresh. She said that after 8 hours the crop slowed down even more, so keeping fresh in helped keep things moving, even if only slowly.

From gloria: Is Amy planning to try DMSO, then? I wasn’t clear on whether or not you thought the bird>was too far gone to recover or not.

Sorry I wasn’t very clear. Amy started treating on Monday. Because the bird is so far down I don’t think it is a good test of the treatment, if it fails.

I also want to double check that the crop started moving slower when it was emptied prior to feeding again and that keeping the crop filled made it move slower??

The old food in the crop slowed it down. By removing it and replacing it with fresh the crop seemed to move somewhat better.

>I’ve read about DMSO. There is quite a bit of info about it in Dr. >Atkin’s Vita Nutrient book and in the book on nutrition that I am now >reading by Dr Elson Haas (Staying Healthy With Nutrition). It isn’t >something I’ve used, but sure would be worth a try if someone has had >good luck using it for aspiration pneumonia. I wonder how it works to >help with that? Did Dr. Fiskett say?

With pneumonia we usually think of infection, but that is scondary. Amy’s birds didn’t have an infection. It is the inflamation in the crop that the DMSO addresses not infection.

I used it as a carrier of antibiotics. Birds with infections in the feet and legs, because of the lack of a blood supply to that area, could not benefit from oral or injected drugs, (no blood supply to carry it to the site) Dmso is absorbed into the body, and will take with it the drug it is mixed with. I applied it topically to the site where I needed the meds to be.

When Amy said that was what they were trying I did some checking with some avian vet friends, this treatment has not been written up. None have ever heard of using it this way. Dr. Fiskett is a very respected avian vet, so feel sure she has good reason to think it works, besides her use of it in her own birds. All agreed that it has possibilities. Humans have used it for arthritis for some time now. One vet I spoke to said he had had good results using it for head trauma instead of dexamethasone.

Thanks for keeping me updated. Would you mind if I put this info up as a case study on the website?

Not at all, as long as you clean up the spelling and grammar. 🙂 Jackie —

Comments from Susanne Russo

>>Pulling old food out of their crops, feeding cereal and pedelite, papaya etc. We had all run out of things to try, every one was stumped, and then I read your post and it all fit except that Amy’s adult birds were not on pellets. They received seed and soft food with a vitamin on the soft food, and there was no mucus in the crop of the babies.>>


A fast note and more later. The ONLY thing that I have had success with in this type of situation is SubQ Ringers as the source of food for up to two days. Injections of B-Complex….and injections of Pipercillin and a low dosage of Flagyl which seemed to address whatever bacteria in the bird…plus I suspected the infection was between (before) the intestines and the external crop. Digestion was great with SubQ…by the 2nd by I was putting small amounts of Ringers in the crop to see if it was moving. If I knew about Gentian then I would have used it…it is amazing in getting *whatever* moved out of the bird.