Pasty Butt also known as pasted vent and pasting up is a condition that occurs in baby chicks when droppings stick to the down surrounding their vent. Poop builds up to form a blockage that can be fatal to the chicken unless removed. Causes, treatment and prevention are discussed below.
All baby chicks have both vents and navels/belly buttons which should not be confused with one another.
The vent is the orifice from which chickens pass bodily waste and from which hens pass eggs. The belly button is located just beneath the vent. Just as in human babies, after birth/hatch there is a small amount of tissue that must dry up and fall off the belly button. This dried tissue should not be confused with droppings and should never be pulled off as doing so could disembowel the chick.
CAUSES OF PASTY BUTT
- stress and being cold, most commonly seen in chicks shipped through the mail
- over-heating, most often due to heat lamps
- less common causes include viral or bacterial infections and improper diet, all of which can result in diarrhea
All newly acquired chicks should be checked immediately upon arrival home. Those with pasted vents should be treated and monitored closely thereafter for recurrence.
I have found that the fastest and safest way to treat pasty butt is to wash the chick’s butt under lukewarm running water. Work quickly in a warm room to prevent chilling. When the droppings soften, gently coax the poop off the down without pulling to avoid tearing the chick’s skin.
Towel dry the chick, then use a hair dryer on low heat to dry the down completely. As you can see from the photo above, the vent is pink and obvious when wet, which would put the chick at risk of pecking from other chicks if returned to the brooder damp.
If the chick has recurrent pasting up, petroleum jelly or triple antibiotic ointment can be applied to the down as a preventative. Steer clear of oils as they can become rancid.
The Brinsea EcoGlow Brooder keeps chicks warm and happy without the risk of overheating.
- Maintain proper brooder temperatures
- Consider switching from heat lamps to a radiant heat source such as an EcoGlow brooder, which will eliminate the possibility of overheating chicks.
- Add probiotics to the chicks’ water
- If several chicks develop pasty butt after a few days in the brooder, it may be too hot and the temperature should be adjusted.
- Don’t be in a hurry to offer treats to chicks. Always provide grit if offering any food other than starter feed. Grit can be sand, a clump of weeds with the root ball/dirt attached or crushed granite, which can be found in feed stores and online.
- If pasty butt is recurrent The Chicken Health Handbook suggests offering some scrambled eggs mixed into the starter feed and if that clears things up, switch brands of feed.
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