One of the most common conditions in chicks is “pasty bottom” or “pasted bottom”. This occurs when the chick has feces buildup on their vents. When it is not treated, the feces will accumulate around the vent area, causing the chick to be backed up and unable to poop, which in turn will be fatal.
Causes of Pasty Butt
- Stress from being shipped in the mail and getting too cold.
- Stress from being too hot or too cold in the brooder
- Stress from an overcrowded brooder
- Feeding anything other than a good quality chick starter
When you receive your chicks, it is important to check their vents for any signs of pasting as you are dipping their beaks in the drinking water. Ensuring your brooder is the correct size for your number of chicks and the proper temperature are key factors that can help reduce the number of chicks that get pasty bottom. For additional information on proper chick brooder set up see our Brooding For Beginners post.
Thankfully, treating pasty bottom is simple and quick. Once you have identified it, all you need to do is clean the vent area of any backed up feces.
Pick the chick up and hold her between your hands keep her wings secured and bottom pointing out.
Gently without causing damage to her down feathers run her bottom under lukewarm water (not cold) and wash off the dried on feces. This step can take some time and she will not like it and will be chirping away, but she will thank you later. Take care to keep the water limited to the affected area as water can quickly chill a baby chick.
Once all the feces are removed, take a towel and dry her off. I then like to take a hairdryer and fluff her back up. I use a hairdryer on a low, warm setting; holding the hairdryer away a little bit so she doesn’t get too warm. This is an important step because any sign of red on her may cause the other chicks to begin pecking at her, causing a whole other issue!
Once she is all fluffed back up, put a dab of Vaseline under her vent to help prevent feces from sticking, just in case she continues to paste up.
Pasty bottom is something that is easily treatable but you do need to catch and treat it early. Have you had experience with pasting in new chicks? Leave us a comment and tell us about it.