What Causes Pasty Butt in Chicks?

Also known as chick pasting, pasty butt is a common disease that kills dozens of baby chicks worldwide. Stress is the major cause of pasty butt, although other factors like dehydration and improper temperature can also cause this condition.

Baby chicks with pasty butt usually have droppings sticking in their vent area, ultimately hindering waste excretion. As common as the pasty butt is in baby chicks, this disease is treatable if a chicken keeper takes action promptly.

Causes of Pasty Butt in Chicks

Your baby chicks can succumb to a pasty butt due to various factors. Some of the factors could be beyond your control, while others are manageable. Below are multiple causes of pasty butt in chicks.

– Stress from Transportation

Stress is the leading cause of pasty butt in baby chicks. Transporting or shipping baby chicks from hatcheries can stress the chicks. Stress can become more severe when transportation takes several hours. Furthermore, stress from transportation tends to dehydrate baby chicks due to lack of water and extreme heat.

Giving your baby chicks freezing water while on transportation can also cause butt pasting. Give your chicks some lukewarm water on arrival from transportation. Avoid giving your birds feed on arrival, since feed makes them more vulnerable to butt pasting.

Add some aloe vera to their drinking water to protect your baby chicks from butt pasting due to stress from transportation.

– Dehydration

Reduced water consumption can dehydrate your baby chicks, making your little birds susceptible to butt pasting. Your chicks are at risk of getting a pasty butt in summer since the heat in summer will dehydrate the bird if they have no water around.

Proper hydration is essential for baby chicks during hot weather since it prevents them from having stress that ultimately results in a pasty butt. Giving your dehydrated baby chicks freezing water isn’t helpful because it makes pasty butt more severe.

Give your chicks lukewarm water instead of cold water in summer to protect them against pasty butt.

– Disease

Pasty butt can also result from coccidiosis, salmonella, and avian cholera. Baby chicks are highly susceptible to this disease since they aren’t as hardy as older chickens. These diseases make baby chicks have loose stools, which is one of the symptoms of a pasty butt.

Baby chicks can also contact bacteria and viruses while still in the incubators, leading to diarrhea. Severe diarrhea is among the leading risk factors for pasty butt.

– Improper Feeding

Improper feeding makes baby chicks experience digestive problems. Feeding your baby chicks with difficult food for their stomachs to digest can wreak havoc on your chicks’ digestive system. If you provide them with hard-to-digest food ingredients, your chicks will excrete a stickier and viscous poop. Such thick and sticky poop ends up sticking on the chicks’ vent area.

Although some chicken keepers add electrolytes to their chicks’ drinking water to help their birds recover from the severe stress of transportation, electrolytes can cause pasty butt. Baby chicks need to feed on lighter food ingredients and drink fresh, clean water to prevent them from experiencing pasty butt.

If you notice recurring instances of pasty butt in your baby chickens, it is most probably due to the kind of diet your birds are consuming. For example, some chick feeds such as soybean have a high possibility of causing pasty butt in chicks. Be wary of the type of diet your chicks are consuming, lest you end up feeding them food ingredients that will cause a pasty butt.

– Improper Temperature

Being as fragile as they are, baby chicks can easily succumb to temperature changes. Improper temperature can clog your chicks’ vents, exposing the little birds to pasty butt over time. Moreover, improper temperature, especially when the temperature is way too high, can dehydrate your baby chicks. Giving baby chicks water below 35°C can make their vents paste.

Improper temperature usually makes chicks paste right from the transportation process since several temperature changes occur while transporting baby chicks from hatcheries to their designated homes. Apart from temperature changes resulting from transportation, temperature changes can also take place in the coops.

For instance, having too many heat lamps in your coop can lead to improper temperature in the coop, ultimately making your fragile birds overheat. Overheating is disastrous for baby chicks since it blocks their vent area.

Make sure the temperature in the coop is stable throughout. Try opening the coop’s windows to facilitate air circulation if the temperature in the coop is too high.

– Too Much Sugar

Some chicken keepers add sugar to their baby chicks’ water during transportation, ostensibly to give their birds an energy boost. However, excess sugar is harmful to baby chicks since it increases their odds of pasting. Sugar makes baby chicks’ stool lighter, increasing their risk of pasting.

Instead of adding too much sugar to your newly-hatched baby chicks, add a few pinches of apple cider vinegar to their water to protect your chicks from getting a pasty butt.

How Do You Treat Pasty Butt?

As fatal as pasty butt is for baby chicks, this nasty condition is treatable and preventable. If you notice your chicks have droppings on their vent areas, then it is time you treat the birds promptly before the situation gets out of your control. Below are several ideas on treating pasty butt in baby chicks.

– Start with inspecting the chicks

Not all chicks from hatcheries have a pasty butt. Some are just fine, and they won’t necessarily get this disease upon arrival at your home. However, it helps to inspect the chicks for droppings on their vent areas to tell whether the chicks have a pasty butt or not. Isolate the chicks with pasty butt from other chicks.

– Wash the chicks

Washing the chicks is the safest and fastest way to treat pasty butt in your chicks. Wash your birds with lukewarm water and a cotton ball while taking care of their sensitive vent area. Wash the chicks carefully until you clean all the dropping on their vent areas. Preferably, clean the chicks in a warmer room to protect them against chilling.

– Dry the chicks

Dry the chicks with a soft towel after washing their vent areas. You can use a low heat hair dryer to dry down the chicks completely. Drying is crucial after cleaning your baby chicks since the vent area will have a pink appearance while it is wet.

The other chicks will peck on the pink area if you don’t dry the chick completely. Return the chick to the brooder once you are 100% certain its vent region is completely dry.

– Apply some petroleum jelly

Some chicks have persistent pasting even after cleaning. Try applying petroleum jelly to your chicks’ vent areas as a preventive measure. Alternatively, you can use a triple antibiotic ointment instead of petroleum jelly. Avoid using oils, since oils can be rancid for your baby chicks.

– Put the chicks back in a warm brooder

Chicks find warmth pleasant, and they like living in a warm brooder. Furthermore, keeping your chicks in a warm brooder will keep the little birds happy, which is vital for preventing them from getting stressed, ultimately exposing them to a pasty butt.

– Keep swabbing the vent area

Swabbing your chicks’ vent area is great for ensuring the pasty butt doesn’t persist. Swab your chicks’ vent area with olive oil daily for at least two to three days. Keep checking whether there are droppings still sticking around.

The pasty butt should disappear on its own after a couple of days unless it is extremely severe. Get a vet to inspect your chicks for other underlying conditions if the pasty butt persists for more than three days.

Preventing pasty Butt in Baby Chicks

If you are noticing many instances of pasty butt in your baby chicks, perhaps it is time you do your best to prevent this condition from affecting your birds. You can use several methods to counter pasty butt.

For instance, adding rolled oats to the baby chicks’ feed will keep their gut healthy. Alternatively, consider adding the probiotic powder to your chicks’ feed and water. Adding some apple cider vinegar to your chicks’ water and food will provide the chicks with additional health benefits.

Here are other preventive measures you can utilize to prevent your chicks from succumbing to pasty butt.

  • Maintain the appropriate brooder temperatures
  • Use radiant heat sources other than heat lamps to protect the baby chicks from overheating and at risk of getting a pasty butt.
  • Switch from difficult-to-digest feed to easy-to-digest feed to avoid straining your chicks’ digestive system.
  • Adjust the coop’s temperature if several baby chicks in the flock have pasty butt since the coop could be too hot for the baby chicks.
  • Avoid anything that will stress your chicks since stress will expose them to pasty butt.

Can Chicks Die from Pasty Butt Disease?

Yes, baby chicks can die from pasty butt disease if you don’t treat this condition promptly the moment you detect droppings on your chicks’ vent areas. Pasty butt will block their excretion system, leading to death.


Pasty butt is a common problem that bothers countless chicken keepers when they bring their newly hatched baby chicks to their homes. Although this condition is fatal, the great news is that pasty butt in chicks is preventable.

Better yet, this condition is easy to treat before it gets severe. Inspect whether your baby chicks have this condition and seek treatment on time.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *