Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

April 7, 2008

Chickens 101 - pasting up

If you caught my post from yesterday, I mentioned that I wanted to talk about something potentially lethal to young chicks. Allow me a little digression first. Even before I received my first order of chicks, A~ bought me a very good book, "Living with Chickens". I enjoy it very much for it's simple easy reading. It's not a dry reference manual by any means, so if you prefer that, this is not the book for you. But if you like a good dose of solid information mixed with some personal stories and lots of great photos this may be a great book for you. I get no benefit from referring this book to you, but as I said before, good products deserve good word of mouth advertising. And enough on that...

The issue that I did want to take a minute to cover is called "pasting up"; you can see a picture of it below. It's a rather poorly named condition I think, as it really gives you no idea what it's all about. The reason I mentioned the Living with Chickens book was because it was in it's pages that I first heard about this problem. Chickens will have a tendency, I have found, to hunker down and not do anything when they are stressed. This is particularly true with your chicks, especially after transporting them, but really whenever their schedule is changed. One result of this is that they will often not drink enough water. (This reasoning is purely observational, and not based on any specific expertise, for the record.) This seems to be the cause of "Pasting Up", as I have only had it happen after some sort of shock to the birds.
What pasting up is, in essence, is an unusually thick and "pasty" manure that gets stuck to the chicks feathers around the vent area. In and of itself, this isn't a problem. However, if left unchecked, it can build on itself throughout a matter of hours and eventually close off the chicks vent entirely. The bird, in this case, will not be able to expel waste properly, and will get basically backed up. When this happens, the chicks will stop eating or drinking, because they are filled up. Chicks that don't drink water at least, don't last long. So what do we as responsible chick keepers do? Well, basically the same thing we would do for a baby that messed all over itself, clean it. The picture above is what a chickens vent should look like. I've found that a paper towel soaked with warm water will do the trick very nicely. The chick will complain very loudly, but it is for the best. you may even have to pull a couple of the down feathers that it's stuck to, but again, it's for the best. The bird I lost from the first order that I received was due to this. I didn't know what to look for for the first couple days, and when I found the pasting up advice I immediately knew what it was. By that point it was too late and the chick never recovered.

I know a couple of readers, and a some of the other blogs that I frequent, had had some problems with their chicks this spring. I don't know if this could have had anything to do with it, but since I know there are a couple of you that are looking into getting birds, I wanted to share the information and maybe save a chick sometime down the line. I would have liked to have heard about it sooner. Now that I do know about it, I was able to find it immediately in a couple of our new chicks, and so far no difficulties.
Till tomorrow all...


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info, and the book recommendation! When we eventually get our acreage the first thing I want to get is some chickens. The book sounds like great reading, so thanks for the recommendation! I've added it to my library list.

UrbanHippieMama said...

I just googled "chick pasting up" and came up with your blog... thanks so much for the great info--no one else has pictures of it!
I have a chick with a poopy bum and wasn't sure what to do...man that stuff doesn't want to come off! I'm going in with a warm, wet paper towel now.
Great blog, btw... I'll be back!!

Anonymous said...

For really tenacious "pasting" my husband and I used a spray bottle with warm water. We spray around the area, let it soak, then gently wipe away what we can. Then repeat until the vent is clean.

Carrie Cabak said...

Hi - I realize the last updates to this blog were in April 2008 (and now it's May 2009) but I'm wondering if there is any new news regarding pasting up? I have a beautiful, small (not really growing quickly) chick and noticed she was pasting up two days ago. I've been dilligently attacking it using paper towel method and q-tips. While her bumm appear to be less "swollen", she continues to paste up. I called the vet who suggested a little vaseoline, which I've just now applied. But now she's picking at it - almost like the vaseoline "tastes" good and this can't be a good behavior. She is the smallest in the pack of 8 mixed hen-chicks (ameriana, orpinton, RIR, etc.) and it appears the others might also be interested in the vaseoline bumm. What can I do to help her? We've bonded now that I've cleaned her three times daily the last two days. Is there any end in sight?

AndrewASell said...

Thanks Paul, we had some pasting issues with one of our little ones this morning. Your blog helped so much! Thanks for fighting the good fight.

P~ said...

Very welcome Andrew. Hope the little lady (guy?) is doing better. I couldn't find any good descriptions of what it was or looked like so I took it on myself to provide them. Glad they've helped!
Best to you and hope all goes well with the farm plans this year!

Jonathan said...

n.b. In the first photo there is some poo sticking below the vent, but the chicks that are really in trouble have a crust that is actually blocking the vent. Both are probably worth cleaning up.

When it is really crusted over, I found that getting it wet and then letting it absorb that moisture for a few minutes (like soaking a dirty pan) facilitates the crust coming off without too much trauma to the nether regions. Pick up a couple easier ones and clean them up and then come back to the stuck crust.

angel heart said...

My tiny quail were badly pasted. I held their bottoms in a bowl of warm water for about a minute. The crusting fell off. No trama, like a warm bath. I patted their bottom dry with a paper towel. It worked great! That is one thing about chicken poop, it melts very easily in warm water.

Michelle J said...

We have at least a few frequent flyers in the paste-up department with each hatch. A trick that I've found that helps them to not paste back up as quickly is to swab their freshly-cleaned bums with an olive oil dipped q-tip.

The poo seems less likely to stick to the feathers and skin once they've been well oiled. ;)

Boy do we live glamorous lives or what?! ;)

P~ said...

Michelle, it is indeed a glamorous life!
That's a great idea too. Thank you. I'll probably be starting a new flock again in the spring so I'll give that a try.