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How to Prevent and Treat Pasty Butt in Baby Chicks


Pasty butt, or "pasted vent" is a fairly common, but potentially life-threatening, condition that occurs when the vent of a baby chick gets clogged with dried feces.

If not treated quickly, it can be fatal because the baby chick is unable to eliminate its poop. If you are just starting out with your first baby chicks, then you should be aware of this condition.

What is Pasty Butt?


Pasty butt is the condition in which feces gets stuck in the baby chick’s vent, dries up and literally stops up the chick so it can’t poop. The dried-up feces acts like a cork. 

Sadly, it can kill the chick fairly quickly if it's not treated quickly, so knowing how to spot - and treat - pasty butt is a critical part of caring for baby chicks.

Checking for pasty butt is important whenever you hatch chicks or purchase day old chicks.



What Causes Pasty Butt?

Pasty butt is generally caused by stress or uneven temperature changes. Chicks that hatch under a mother hen rarely suffer from pasty butt.

Pasty butt affects mainly:

- chicks that are hatched in an incubator 
- chicks that are shipped through the mail 

But it’s good to get into the habit of checking all your baby chicks for pasty butt religiously for the first few days of their life. It's unlikely that they will get it after the first several days.


How Do I Treat Pasty Butt?

Fortunately, pasty butt is easy to treat. 

What you need:

Q-tip or cotton swab
Small pair of scissors
Vegetable or olive oil

Moisten a q-tip with some warm water, then gently remove the dried feces. Once the vent is cleared, dab a bit of oil around the vent area to prevent further clogging. 

For stubborn clumps, you can carefully snip away the down around the vent with the scissors, but be careful not to inadvertently cut the chick's skin.  Don't pull or yank the down out.

Continue to monitor the afflicted chick for the first few days to be sure the condition doesn't recur, and swab with a moistened Q-tip again if it does. 

Since chicks are not able to regulate their body temperature and can quickly get chilled and die if they get wet, you don’t want to actually bathe the chick. Just wet right around the vent area.

How Can I Prevent Pasty Butt in the Future?

There are several things you can do to prevent pasty butt:

-add a bit of ground raw oats or cornmeal to the chick feed

-add probiotic powder to the feed to balance gut bacteria and help prevent diarrhea

-don't unnecessarily stress your chicks with loud noises, pets or children

-use a good quality incubator and keep the temperature constant

-keep the brooder temperature constant using a heat lamp

-try hatching chicks under a mother hen!




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