When chicks are raised by a mother hen, the hen does a lot of the dirty work necessary to raise her babies. Part of the care a mother hen provides is tending to the cloacal vent to keep it clear. As a result of mom\'s loving care, issues such as pasty butt are less likely to occur. When you are raising chicks in the absence of their mother, being responsible for such care then falls on you. Spending your time looking at chick butts for signs of clogged vents will soon become a normal part of your life and that of your chicks.
The cloacal vent is a bodily opening that serves multiple purposes. It is used for egg laying, mating, and for releasing waste. When this opening becomes clogged, it is known as pasty butt. This happens most frequently in chicks not being raised by their mothers, such as those that were purchased as day old chicks and shipped to their new homes. It is possible that pasty butt can occur during shipping or even after arrival at their destination, so it is important to keep an eye on chicks so you will be aware of any problems. Prompt care is necessary for chicks with pasty butt as it can be fatal if left unattended. If this condition is caught quickly and care is administered, chances are good that affected chicks will be just fine.
Keeping the vent open to allow excrement to pass through unimpeded is necessary for the health of chicks. When your new arrivals make it to your doorstep, one of the first things you should do is check each and every one of them for signs of pasty butt. Should you see feces stuck around the vent, use a cotton swab to clean the area. This swab needs to be moistened with warm water, vegetable oil, or olive oil. Once the feces is loosened and removed, leave a dab of oil on the vent area for continued softening. Particularly bad cases of pasty butt may require your efforts to involve a warm, damp wash cloth, but try to avoid wetting too much of the chick; it takes time for a chick to be able to regulate their body temperature and they could get cold and die. Once your cleanup efforts are complete, be sure to give your chick time to dry before placing him or her back with the group so the others are not tempted to peck at a potentially raw and exposed vent.
Maintain checks on the vents of chicks for several days after their arrival, checking multiple times of day to make sure things are progressing through their bodies normally. To boost the chances of warding off cases of pasty butt, you can add some cornmeal or ground, raw oatmeal to their feed, but do not forget to give them a source of grit as well. Probiotic powder can help as well to achieve a healthy level of bacteria in their bodies and prevent diarrhea, which is the enemy of pasty butt.
With a little luck, pasty butt will not be a problem you will encounter. Since anything is possible, having knowledge of what could go wrong and how to fix it could prove invaluable. Always hope for the best but prepare for the worst, and don\'t forget to get out there and keep an eye on those chick butts!