I love when new chicks arrive on the farm. They are so fluffy and cute and offer a new beginning. The first few days of a chick’s life are crucial for survival. The temperature of the brooder, the feed, and water are all things that help a chick get off to a good start. Even with all of this taken care of, things can still go wrong. A common problem in chicks and can be threatening if not taken care of is pasty butt. Let’s talk about it and I’ll show you an easy way to prevent pasty butt.
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What is Pasty Butt?
Pasty butt is a condition when the chick’s poop crusts over and blocks the vent preventing the chick from being able to poop. If not taken care of the chick can get backed up and eventually will die. Fluctuation in temperature (usually from shipping), lack of electrolytes, or stress are a few of the common causes for pasty butt.
How To Identify Pasty Butt
The chick will develop crusted poop around the vent (located on the backside of the chicken under their tail.) There is so much down feathers around the vent the poo easily gets caught among the fluff. You will know if your chick has pasty butt. It will have a poopy butt and it needs cleaned!
How To Clean Pasty Butt
You need a container of warm water, a wet cloth along with a hairdryer, and a dry cloth. Place the vent area of the chick into the water and let soak for 15 seconds or so. Take the chick out of the water and use the wet cloth to gently wipe the poo away.
If it is still crusted on, repeat the soaking step again to soften the poo. Again, gently wipe until the vent is free of poo. Pat the chick with the dry cloth to dry as best you can. Use the hairdryer to finish drying the chick completely. Repeat the steps for each chick that has pasty butt.
How To Prevent Pasty Butt
Without a doubt, nobody wants to wipe chick poo! So how do you prevent pasty butt from happening?
First, have your brooder set up before you get your chicks. Read my post on how to care for chicks to know what you need. Turn on the heat lamps ahead of time so that the area will be the correct temperature.
Second, place raw apple cider vinegar in the water: 1 tsp of vinegar per quart or 1 tbs of vinegar per gallon of water. The apple cider vinegar provides natural electrolytes to the chicks.
Thirdly, and absolutely my favorite way of preventing pasty butt and in my opinion the most effective. You will need cotton swabs (q-tips) and Vaseline.
Immediately after bringing the chicks from the post office or the local farm store, take one chick at a time from the box. Turn the chick upside down with the vent facing you. See that fluffy booty, that is what you are looking for. Using a cotton swab place the Vaseline around the vent pushing the fluff down and away from the vent.
In the picture below you will see the way it should look. All the fluff is away from the vent. I know it seems time consuming and a little weird to be doing this to a chick, BUT it is much better than dealing with soaking poo off the back side of a chick.
I have not had one case of pasty butt in years since I have started putting the Vaseline on the chicks.
That’s it! Now your chick is ready for their new home in the brooder! I hope that helps!