When you are raising baby chicks from their early stages of development, your chicks could develop something called “pasty butt.”
How to Prevent Pasty Butt
Chickens have one hole that is used for laying eggs, pooping, urinating and mating. This hole is called the cloacal vent. A chick’s mother hen keeps her chicks’ cloacal vents clear, but if you are raising the chicks yourself, the vent can become clogged and you end up “pasty butt.” I have read that this can happen during shipping – some say from temperature changes, some say from stress. A chick can actually die from pasty butt because it cannot poop until the pasty butt is cleared. The result: you need to clean your chicks’ bottoms. Use a warm wash cloth and move it slowly on the chicks’ bottoms. You can use a Q-tip and olive oil or mineral oil to rub around the vent and surrounding area.
How to Clean Pasty Butt?
Unfortunately, it can be a bit of a problem to clean pasty butt in baby chickens. Some people actually run the pasty butts under warm water to help dissolve the poo. Make sure your room is well heated. Dry the chicks off before putting them with the other chicks so their bottoms do not draw attention. You may end up plucking some of the pasty goop, irritating the skin, which then may cause other chicks to peck at it.
Check your chicks’ bottoms daily for the first few days to look for buildup, because this is the only way I know how to prevent pasty butt!
When your chicks first arrive, give them sugar water the first day to help increase their energy levels; feed them chick starter food and scrambled egg. Yes, egg. I know it sounds cannibalistic.
In the meantime, watch those chicken butts! This YouTube video shows what it looks like and demonstrates the cleaning technique:
So as you can tell in the video, or if you have tried to clean pasty butt by yourself, you will know that the poop is very sticky, and the chicken down is very fluffy, so this can be a sticky situation!
Be very gentle with the little chicks as they can stress easily, and are very fragile when they are only a few days old. But they don’t mind you handling them gently, in fact they will respond quite nicely to your touching and grooming them. If you have ever thought about keeping your chickens as pets – they will become very tame if you handle them gently and frequently. Click here to read our article on keeping your favorite chickens as family pets – yes chickens can be adorable little pets!
Once you become comfortable with handling the small chicks, they will not struggle as much, and this makes the job of looking after them so much easier, and makes cleaning the pasty butt much easier. In fact the whole family will adore the chicks when they are small, and little kids will love having the chicks cheeping around the house!
The best part is when the chicks become friendly and comfortable with people, and they will actually come to you to peck and play around. Well mainly come looking for food, but it is a good idea to encourage everyone in the family to help look after the chickens.
But the main idea is to keep your chicks clean and happy and healthy, so watch out for their pasty butt!