We all have those days when we think “you just can’t make this stuff up”, ya’ll know what I mean? Days when all you can do is just shake your head and laugh, hoping you at least learned something from the comedy of it all. The day we learned of ‘pasty butt’ was one of those days.
When our chickens were a few weeks old and still living in a crate in our sunroom we noticed one day they had dried poop stuck in the tiny feathers on their bottoms. Now I know what your thinking because I thought it too, what’s the big deal, it’s just a little poop, wipe it off with a wet wipe. But David saw things from a different perspective and he had to check it out on Google. With his phone in hand, David looks me eye to eye, doesn’t blink or crack even the faintest of smiles, and says “Babe, the itty-bitties have what they call ‘pasty butt'”. Yep, you guessed it, that’s where I had to just shake my head and laugh, and ask “Pasty what?” This is a real thing ya’ll!! And it can be fatal to the chick!!! The thing is, the poop gets caught in the chickens tail feathers and if it isn’t cleaned it can prevent them from pooping, thus resulting in their demise.
Okay. Now that we know that we have something going on, I don’t want our itty-bitties to be sick or die. I must learn. Why did this happen? How do we treat or fix this? How do we prevent it from happening again in the future? My first stop on my search for knowledge was the internet. After the internet, I paid the our friends at the feed store a visit and discovered the internet was right! Slow down there ya’ll, I am not bashing the internet. I tend to make at least a half-hearted attempt to research and verify things when I am trying to learn about stuff. Pasty butt, or rather a clogged vent, happens to baby chicks as a result of stress or being too cold and happens most often when baby chicks are shipped through the mail. Being kept at a temperature that is too warm, especially when a heat lamp is used, can also lead to a clogged vent. The most dreaded cause of a clogged vent is a bacterial or viral pathogen (haha, that’s a big word for teeny tiny nasty critters) in the digestive system leading to diarrhea. Ya’ll, I grew up on a farm and I realize I was about 15 years old the last time we had farm animals but I definately do not remember my grandmother ever dealing with a chicks clogged vent.
How do we prevent pasty butt in the future? We were using a heat lamp clamped to the side of the crate so we raised the level of the lamp and added a small thermometer taped to the side of the crate out of reach of our itty-bitties and we were able to maintain a comfortable temperature for our chicks. We also learned we made a good choice by using chick starter feed as it does not require the addition of grit to the chicks feed. If the chicks eat other than chick starter feed grit must be added to their diet to promote proper digestive health. Keeping plenty of clean water available is also necessary.
But, how do you treat pasty butt? Well, that’s where it gets fun! To treat a clogged vent (pasty butt) the chicks bottom must be washed with warm water and the poop removed from the feathers without pulling out the feathers or tearing the chicks skin around the vent and do it quickly so the chick doesn’t get too cold. Can you imagine this scene? It was hilariously great! There we are, two city slickers at the sink in the sun room washing the butts of nine baby chicks. That one should have been caught on video. Don’t get excited, after washing the chicks, we had to use the hair dryer to dry their feathers for two reasons: 1) to prevent them from getting chilled, 2) to fluff the feathers around the now clean, pink vent so the other chicks will not see it as a tasty morsel and peck at it, which would be much worse than the average run of the mill pasty butt. Who knew! When your friends, family, and coworkers ask what you did this weekend how do you look at them and say, “We treated our baby chicks for pasty butt”! You just can’t make this stuff up!
Disaster averted. The chicks survived, it’s been about three years since the great pasty butt escapade, and while we are now down to five hens, none of them met their demise by means of pasty butt. Predatory critters got the other four, but that’s another story.
I hope you enjoyed this little story about our life on our hippy homestead, we love being here. If you like our stories so far and want to read more, click the subscribe button below to get notified of new posts and help me boost my followers!!
Peace out ya”ll!!!!