So, this is batch number five of chicks for us and a first pasty butt experience (also known as paste vent).
What’s pasty butt you ask? Well, in a nut shell, pasty butt is when a chick poops and the poop gets dried on their down plugging up their vent (butt) . Seems like a simple thing but if goes untreated, it could be fatal.
Apparently, this is common in mailed chicks and is caused by stress. This would explain why it is our first time experiencing this. All of our other chicks where locally bought. Another cause can be over heating or under heating the brooder. Chicks are sensitive to heat (or lack of) and get stressed out easily. More uncommon causes can be viral or bacterial infections or improper feed, all leading to diarrhea, causing the poop to plug up its tiny little butt. This is a fatal because their butt is literally plugged up and elimination can not happen.
The way to clean up pasty butt is pretty straight forward. You run its little vent under warm water, making sure its warm and not hot or cold, gently softening the dried up poop. Yes, you will have to touch chicken poop but chances are, if you are a chicken owner, a little chicken poop on your hands is no longer an issue. It is super essential not to rush the process and pull on any of the dried poo. Chicks are delicate. You can rip their skin or worse, you can cause intestinal damage. Patience is the key. So today in the morning, I spent about 10 minutes standing in my bathroom with a chick under running water. The poor thing was confused at first but then I think he started to enjoy it.
After the vent is visible (pink and puckered up), I dried the chick with a heated towel, wrapped her in a warmed up blanket stuck her in my coat (next to my chest) while taking her back to the brooder. The down was still pretty wet so I put her right under the heat lamp and the little booger took a big poop! Success. About 15 minutes later, I checked on the chick and it was impossible to tell which one got a bath, all 15 were back to being cute, yellow and fuzzy.
So according to the book of knowledge–Google and Storey’s guide to raising poultry, this could happen again. And if it does, the same process should be repeated and and a cooked egg yolk should be added to the chicks diet for day or two. If it still occurs, you can put a little bit of vasiline or antibacterial ointment around the vent down to prevent poop from sticking to them. Avoid oils, as they can become rancid and cause infection.
A very serious problem (if left untreated) with an easy fix–I’ll take it.
The chicks have grown a lot in their first week. They are officially 9 days old and already have their wing feathers. Pretty soon, their cutie-pie fuzzy down will be replaced with white feathers and they will go through a few weeks of ugly duckling experience.
On a separate note, today is day two of our broody hen Debbie sitting on a clutch (7) of eggs. If all goes well, we hope to hatch a few chicks of our own by April 24-ish. We had a rooster up until this last weekend and hope to witness a chicken brooding eggs. We had to sell the rooster to avoid angry neighbors.
Thanks for reading! Stay updated on the our journey with raising Jumbo Cornish Cross meat birds and our broody hen Debbie in her natural element.