Have you heard of pasty butt? It also goes by the term “pasting up”. As you spend time with your chicks, you might happen to notice that some of their bottoms have poo stuck to their backside (the vent). This can happen for a number of reasons including getting acclimated to eating food, poor quality of chick feed as well as suboptimal temperatures in the brooder.
It is important that this dried poop does not cover the vent. This is when it can be deadly for the chick because they are unable to properly eliminate their waste. Therefore, it is necessary to remove this caked on poo from the vent. Some breeds like, Silkie Bantams can be more prone to pasty butt. In nature, the mother hen will take care of pasty butt. However, when you are the “chicken parent” this falls under your duty as their caretaker. When you bring new chicks home or they arrive in the mail, they are more prone to developing pasty butt during their first week of life.
Removing Pasty Butt
Hold the chick firmly in your hand.
With a bit of warm water and a wet paper towel, gently soften and remove the dried poop. This takes some time. Never pull the poop off. This can lead to missing feathers, bleeding and trauma to the baby chick’s vent.
Once the pasty butt is removed, dry the baby chick and return it to the brooder. You can apply a small bit of triple antibiotic ointment if you like.
Verify that the brooder temperature is appropriate for the age of the chicks. Be sure it is not drafty.
Use a red heat lamp to curtail pecking when you have pasty butt present. Sometimes a little bit of feathers are accidentally removed when taking care of pasty butt. The red light helps to prevent other baby chicks from pecking at the chick’s bottom out of natural curiosity.
Monitor the chick for a reoccurrence. This can happen especially if their digestive tracts are becoming accustomed to eating chick feed. If it continues to reoccur, consider changing the brand of chick feed to a higher quality product.
All photos used under the Creative Commons licensing agreement.