Sector Poultry

A stockman’s guide to day-old chicks: Crop fill check

When a new rotation of day-old chicks arrives on the farm, understanding their health status is imperative for future management and performance. In the beginning, checking the crop filling is the easiest indicator for adequate feed intake.

As you want quick, steady, and increasing feed intake in your birds, it is a very good and easy tool for monitoring your flock. Ideally, the crop filling is checked 2 times a day for the first 2-4 days with an adequate amount of birds (at least 20 per house). Each breed has its own standardized recommendations concerning crop fill, but the general recommendations are provided in Figure 1.

Recommended crop fill rate

Time of crop fillTarget crop fill
(% of chicks with full crops)
2 hours75
4 hours80
8 hours>80
12 hours>85
24 hours>95
48 hours100
Figure 1: Target percentage of chicks with full crops based on arrival time

How to

After gently grabbing a chick or poult, place it in one hand and try to feel the crop with the thumb and index finger of your free hand. The crop is located between the neck and chest area of the bird. If the bird has already eaten, you will feel feed particles in the crop. If the bird is starved, you will only feel skin (Figure 2).

Figure 2: A chick that has not consumed feed will have an empty crop (A), while an eating chick will have a full crop (B)

As it helps you monitor the early development of your flock, checking the crop fill percentage is a mandatory part of stockmanship. If the crop fill percentage is unsatisfactory, measurements have to be taken to understand why the chicks are not eating. Evaluate the flock’s health status, feed availability and application, water availability and application, as well as the climate and other management factors. As early feed intake triggers gut and immunity development—as well as helps the chick absorb the yolk sac—it is crucial for a good performance. Therefore, take the time to do this handy and very valuable test early and often in order to be aware of what is going on with your flock.

Your Earlyfeed expert
Stefan Alius
Product Manager Poultry

This contact was suggested based on the location you are browsing from. You can of course also consult our other contacts and locations here.

Do you want to get things right from the start?

Getting your rearing strategies right early in the production cycle, pays off in the long run.
Together, let’s give the youngest animals everything they need to perform well later in life.

Stay up-to-date

Would you like to be kept informed of our latest developments? Register here and stay up to date.