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Chickens & Flocks

Spotting and Treating Pasty Butt in Chicks

by Alexa Lehr | 05.07.2021
Spotting and Treating Pasty Butt in Chicks

It sounds gross, and to be honest, it is gross. Pasty butt is basically the chick version of constipation, and we all know that can’t feel good! Not only is it uncomfortable for the chick, but it can also be fatal. Pasty butt is one of the most common problems you will encounter when raising baby chicks. Learning how to recognize, treat, and prevent it will be essential for raising a healthy brood! 

 

What is Pasty Butt?   

Pasty butt (also known as pasted vent, pasting, paste up, or sticky bottoms) is when the chick’s droppings (poop) sticks to the chick’s vent (where poop exits the body). The poop then clogs the vent and sometimes will even dry onto the vent, creating an even bigger blockage. This prevents the chick from properly eliminating body waste, which then builds up within the chick’s body. The built-up waste clogs up the chick’s digestive system and allows harmful bacteria to proliferate within the chick’s body. Pasty butt will eventually become fatal if it is not dealt with immediately.  

 

Recognizing Pasty Butt 

 

Thankfully, recognizing pasty butt is very easy! You simply look for any droppings that are stuck to the down feathers around the chick’s vent. Pasty butt can range in size from a small dropping stuck to the vent to a large mass of droppings stuck to the vent. 

As soon as you get new chicks you should examine them for pasty butt. You will want to check each chick daily to ensure you address any pasty butt issues immediately. Pasty butt is most common in young chicks up until they reach 2 weeks of age. Any cases after that age may indicate a health issue.  

Watch your chicks’ behavior too. While identifying pasty butt is usually quite simple just by looking at the chick’s vent region, you may also see behavior changes if it has started to cause serious issues.   

Chicks with serious cases of pasty butt may become lethargic. They may not move around the brooder as vibrantly as other healthy chicks. Pasty butt is also very irritating for chicks. You will often notice a chick craning its head around to try and ‘preen’ the poop clump off. A decrease in water and feed consumption is an indicator that the chick is in serious trouble.   

  

Causes of Pasty Butt

Pasty butt issues are prevalent in young chicks because many factors can trigger pasty butt. Anything that causes the chicks to have loose, soft, and sticky droppings can lead to pasty butt. One or two cases of pasty butt that clear up quickly could be attributed to the mild stress of adjusting to new surroundings. However, repeated or numerous cases of pasty butt can signify a larger cause. Theses are the common triggers to rule out: 

 

Chicks that have been shipped through the mail may be especially prone to pasty butt. The stress from shipping, the chilling, and the possible dehydration that may have occurred can all cause the chicks to have pasty butt. Chicks that are left in the incubator for too long during a draggy hatch may be more prone to pasty butt too due to dehydration.  

When pasty butt occurs in isolated cases, then the likely causes are from being chilled, over heated, or some other stress-related factor. If the cases are more widespread and affect most of the chicks in the brood, then the cause is more likely from an improper diet or improper hydration.  

 

Treating Pasty Butt

Thankfully, pasty butt is fairly easy to treat. Be forewarned though, it can be a little gross! Removing crusted balls of poop from a chick’s rear isn’t exactly what everyone signed up for when they bought chicks. However, pasty butt is a serious issue, and it must be dealt with quickly. The sooner you deal with minor cases of pasty butt, the easier it will be to treat.  

When pasty butt first starts to form, the droppings stuck to the vent will still be soft and easy to remove. The longer the condition is left un-attended, the messier the treatment becomes. The droppings will build-up and harden to the vent, making them much harder to remove without causing the chick some discomfort and pain.  

 

Here’s a step-by-step guide for properly treating pasty butt: 

  1. Choose a location: Ideally be near the brooder and in a warm room, use a sink that you don’t mind getting chick poop in! 
  2. Warm the water: Run the water until it's warm but not hot. Bath water temperature is usually the ideal temperature. 
  3. Rinse off the droppings: Securely hold the chick in one hand and have the warm water gently run over the pasted droppings. Try not to get too much of the chick wet! 
  4. Remove the droppings: The water will soften the droppings so that you can gently wipe away the poop using a soft rag, paper towel, or tissue. Depending on how hardened the droppings were will depend on how long it takes to soften and remove all the droppings. 
  5. Dry the chick: Once all the droppings have been removed, gently dry the chick’s rear end with a soft rag or towel. You can put the chick back in the brooder, but just ensure that it stays warm enough and does not get picked on by the other chicks.  

             

            Tips and Tricks for Treatment 

             

            Preventing Pasty Butt

            No chick keeper wants to deal with pasty butt in the first place, so what measures can you take to prevent it? Here are the most impactful preventative measures you can implement in the brooder to prevent pasty butt: 

            If you are having repeated problems with pasty butt, consider offering your chicks some natural supplements or switching your brood over to a high-quality,  soy-free chick starter feed. If you give your chicks any natural supplements or treats in addition to their feed, make sure you supply some chick grit as well to help the chicks digest the new foods. Chick grit can be bought at the feed store or you can give your chicks a clean grass or herb clump with dirt attached to the roots. The dirt will function as grit and your chicks will have a blast with the greenery! 

             

            Here’s to a Healthy Brood!

            While pasty butt is one of the most common issues in young chicks, preventing and treating this common issue is fairly easy when you are armed with the right knowledge. With a watchful eye and proper brooder management, your chicks will thrive and grow into healthy adult chickens! 

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