Gastrointestinal impactions in backyard poultry

Anny S. Huang, Francisco R Carvallo Chaigneau, Maurice E. Pitesky, Simone Stoute

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In contrast to conventional commercial poultry, which are raised primarily in controlled indoor environments, backyard poultry are typically raised in less restricted settings, potentially exposing them to a greater variety of ingestible substances, including multiple types of forage. Consequently, problems such as gastrointestinal impactions caused by ingesta have been noted in backyard poultry. To determine the prevalence of these impactions in backyard poultry, we performed a retrospective database search for autopsy submissions to the California Animal Health and Food Safety laboratory system and found that gastrointestinal impaction was associated with the death of 42 backyard poultry cases (40 chickens, 1 turkey, and 1 goose) from January 2013 to July 2018. In 32 of these 42 (76%) cases, the impaction was caused by fibrous plant material, 7 (17%) by compacted feed, and 3 (7%) by miscellaneous ingesta (tortilla, plastic, and wood shavings). The large proportion of grass impactions indicate that foraging is the predominant source of impaction material in backyard poultry, and that long grasses may be a significant health hazard for poultry. Backyard, pasture-raised, and free-range poultry producers are advised to maintain short pastures, avoid feeds that may expand in the gastrointestinal tract, and provide adequate grit to prevent impactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Backyard chickens
  • backyard poultry
  • foreign body
  • gastrointestinal impaction
  • grass impaction
  • obstruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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