Our little chicks are almost two weeks old. They are growing so fast, feathers starting to appear, and they are beginning to roost.
Last week on my blog, I had some fun with the chicks. I did a post titled Baby Chic Photo Shoot. Click HERE or on the picture above to see more.
This week, my writing takes a totally different route from the cuteness of last week. Today, we are going to talk about poo! Poo that sticks to the baby chick’s butt area. As gross as this sounds, it is actually quite serious. If unattended, the chick can die.
It is called many things – pasty butt, pasting up, pasted vent… Basically it is poo that is stuck to the chick’s vent and the fluffy down area surrounding the vent. The vent is where the chicken passes bodily waste and where hens pass eggs.
If the chick was being brooded by its Momma, the Momma would take care of it. Also, as chicks grow they naturally learn to groom themselves and this shouldn’t happen. But for a chick that is being raised by humans (usually bought from a hatchery or born in a home incubator), it is our job to help them.
I noticed one of our chicks (less than a week old) had poo stuck to her little butt. It seems simple enough, right? Just pick or flick it off. But, it is not that simple. The chick was just a few days old..she was tiny…she was fragile.
At first I tried a wet paper towel, followed by a dry one. It did not remove all the poo. So I did an internet search. There are lots of options – cloth, paper towels, q-tips, running water over the affected area were a few options that I found.
I ended up putting the baby chick’s bottom under luke warm running water in my laundry room sink. This helped to loosen the poo, making it easier to remove with the paper towel. I held her gently, yet firmly and I was careful not to pinch or hurt her delicate body.
I then dried her off some with a clean, dry paper towel. I observed her for a little while when I put her back in the brooder. She tried to groom herself a little and then she ate. A sign that all was well!
So, what causes pasty butt? Stress is a possible reason. The long haul of being transported by mail or the long car drive to its new home at such a young age can cause stress to the chick.
Being too hot or too cold is another reason. Again, linked to the transportation process, being too crowded can cause the chick to become too hot. If not enough chicks are transported together to keep each other warm, they can become too cold. Once under a brooder lamp in its new home, the chicks should naturally adapt to its surroundings.
Sometimes, it just happens. Whatever the reason, it is important to monitor the chicks for the first few weeks for pasty butt so you can catch the signs of pasting and treat it quickly. If reccurance should happen, you can apply a little petroleum jelly to the vent area.