Pasty Butt is something that can go straight from yucky to deadly in no time at all.
This article discusses what “pasty butt” is, why it is dangerous, and things you can do to help out your chicks.
What is “Pasty Butt”?
Pasty Butt is very much what it sounds like. It is when a young chick develops an unhealthy condition where their poop gets stuck or “pasted” to their bottom. It is also referred to as “pasting up” or “pasted butt.” This poses a health issue because their vent becomes blocked and does not let them pass waste and will become fatal. The vent is the bodily orifice that allows them to pass waste, and if a female, will lay eggs from when matured.
This is one of the reasons that it is important to inspect your chicks every day. Spend a few minutes with them and let them get to know you, while you look them over for any issues.
Now believe it or not, very young chicks will actually have a sort of umbilical stump right after they hatch. However that is very small and is located between their vent and their belly. Do not try to remove this as it is attached to delicate organs inside and you could kill the chick. It will fall off on its own.
Pasty butt will clearly be poo, and will be stuck to the feathers around or directly to the vent. The vent is located directly under the chick’s tail.
Chicks raised by their mama hens rarely develop this, as the mother hens watch over and clean their babies. However chicks raised in a brooder run a higher risk of it.
How to Prevent Pasty Butt
Pasty butt doesn’t happen very often, but can be attributed to stress. Mail order chicks are very prone to this because of the scary experience of going through the postal service.
Make sure your brooder is in a safe place and that the chicks have good food, water, clean bedding and appropriate heat. Poor nutrition or being too cold or hot can also contribute. But sometimes you can do everything right, and it just happens.
Another method that is sometimes used to prevent it, is by putting a little natural apple cider vinegar in their drinking water. Real, natural ACV (like Bragg’s Organic ACV) is good for gut health. I do that for all my chickens.
If your chick has had pasty butt, there is a chance it could get it again. To prevent it from recurring, you can rub a little olive oil, coconut oil, petroleum jelly or triple antibiotic ointment on the chick’s vent. This simply prevents the poop from sticking. Some people have been known to do this for their chicks as a preventative, even if they have never had a case of pasty butt.
How Do You Treat Pasty Butt?
First of all, while this does need to be treated immediately, do not under any circumstances “just pull it off.” The dried poop is likely embedded in the feathers around the vent, and quite likely stuck to the vent itself.
If you just pull it off of your chick, there is a good chance you could rip their skin, or worse, actually (this is horrifying) pull off the chick’s vent and disembowel it.
I can not emphasize enough the importance of patience and gentleness when doing this.
Option 1: To safely remove the pasty butt, start by laying an old towel on a surface where you are going to be caring for your chick. If your chick was actually plugged up from the pasty butt, you may find that it will suddenly poop once it has been cleared.
Wet a wash rag with warm (not hot) water. Hold the chick in your hand and hold the wet rag against its bottom. After a couple minutes, wipe their bottom with the wash rag to gently loosen and remove the dried poop. Be patient. If it doesn’t come off right away, moisten the rag again, and repeat until it does.
Option 2: Another option is to simply hold the chick’s rear under warm running water and allowing the water flow to soften and loosen the dried poop. Gently rub with the pad of your finger to work the poop from their feathers, while the warm water flows across it.
Once you have gotten the chick cleaned, dry them off with a towel and then use a blow dryer on low heat to completely dry them. A chick must be kept warm (thus the heat for the brooder) and being wet can cause the to get chilled and lead to further health issues.