Chickens are quite capable of keeping themselves clean and healthy. However, occasionally you may notice that one of your chickens has become sensitive and irritated near her vent. If there is a build-up of fecal matter near the vent, this condition is known as pasty butt.
Causes of Pasty Butt
Chicks raised in a brooder without a mother hen are much more likely to develop pasty butt than chicks who are raised by their own mother. Mother hens are adept at keeping their chicks healthy, well-fed, and comfortable. Without a mother hen, chicks must take care of themselves. If a brooder is not warm enough, a chick is more likely to develop pasty butt due to poor temperature regulation. However, the most common cause of pasty butt is poor quality chicken feed. If you notice pasty butt in your chicks, try purchasing a higher quality feed as a quick remedy .
Pasty Butt in Baby Chicks
Pasty butt is most common in young chicks who have been separated from their mother. When fecal buildup occurs, a mother hen will simply clean the irritated vent area herself. It is important to check the vent area of your chicks daily, especially if your chicks do not have a mother hen present. Baby chicks are not able to clean the area themselves and this problem can quickly escalate and cause constipation or even death.
Treatment for Pasty Butt
If your chicks do not have a mother hen, it is your responsibility to clean the vent area of an inflicted chick. The pasty butt condition can easily be remedied with warm water and paper towels. Simply wet a small piece of towel with warm water and compress this to the chick's vent. The heat and dampness should be enough to loosen the fecal build-up. It is important to be gentle when removing the buildup, as this can hurt the chicken's feathers and vent area.
Age and Pasty Butt
Chickens are rarely afflicted with pasty butt after two or three weeks of age. During their first few weeks, be vigilant about checking the vent area for any buildup. You may notice that only a few of your chicks are affected, and these same chicks will present with pasty butt again after a cleaning. This condition typically goes away on its own once the chickens are close to one month in age.
- The Chicken Whisperer's Guide to Keeping Chickens: Everything You Need to Know . . . and Didn't Know You Needed to Know About Backyard and Urban Chickens; McCrea & Schneider
- The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An All-natural Approach to Raising Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers; Ussery
Hannah Reid has a Master of Education from Harvard University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in English and psychology from Hamilton College. She has worked with children in grades three through 12, providing academic support in the areas of writing and reading comprehension. Hannah also blogs about her family farm and offers tips on everything from chicken coops to kitten care.