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Pasty Butt in Chicks: What You Need to Know

Three yellow baby chicks on a white background.

Are you a chicken keeper or breeder? If so, then you’ve probably heard of pasty butt in chicks. This condition can cause great distress to young birds and even lead to death if not treated quickly.

Pasty butt is simply the name given to a combination of stress, humidity, and poor hygiene in baby chicks. It is characterized by a substance that adheres to the vent area of the chick.

Fortunately, it can be prevented or treated easily with proper care and knowledge of the symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention measures. In this article, we will discuss what pasty butt is and how to address it properly if your flock is affected by it.

What Is Pasty Butt in Chicks?

Pasty butt is a condition that affects young chickens and other poultry species. A combination of factors, including stress, humidity, and poor hygiene, causes it.

The condition results in the accumulation of a white pasty substance around the vent area of the chick.

If left untreated, the pasty material can harden and block the chick’s vent, preventing it from passing normal waste. This blockage can be fatal if not addressed quickly and correctly.

Symptoms of Pasty Butt in Chicks

The symptoms of pasty butt in chicks are fairly easy to spot if you know what to look for. Let’s look at the signs:

  • White, pasty substance around the chick’s vent area
  • Fluffed feathers that are dirty and matted with debris
  • Lethargy and refusal to eat
  • Loss of weight or failure to gain weight as expected

Pasty butt is most common in chicks up to two weeks old, so be sure to examine them daily for signs of the condition.

Causes of Pasty Butt in Chicks

A combination of factors causes a pasty butt in baby chicks. These include:


Baby chicks are especially vulnerable to stress during the first few weeks of their lives, and even minor disturbances can cause them to be prone to pasty butt.


High humidity levels in the brooder can create an ideal environment for bacteria or fungi to grow, which can lead to pasty butt in a baby chick.

Poor hygiene

Young chicks need a clean and dry environment for optimal health. If the brooder is not kept clean and well-ventilated, it can increase the risk of developing a pasted vent.

Too Cold or Too Hot

Newly hatched chicks must be kept at the right temperature to stay healthy and prevent disease.

If they are too cold or too hot (caused by a heat lamp), it can lead to huddling with other chicks and decrease the chick’s activity. Baby chicks cannot regulate their body temperature, so keeping their environment at the right temperature is important. Always keep them at the right brooder temperature.

Improper Feeding

Baby chicks need to be fed the right type and amount of chick feed for optimal health. If they are not getting enough nutrients, it can make them more vulnerable to a pasted butt. Sometimes excessive protein can cause this as well.

Age of The Chick

The condition is most common in chicks up to two weeks old and is rarely seen in chicks older than this because new chicks are sensitive to changes in environment and stress.

Now that you know the causes of pasty butt, let’s look at how to treat and prevent it.

Treating and Managing Pasty Butt in Chicks

If you spot the signs of pasty butt in your chicks, it’s important to take action immediately. Fortunately, it is easy to treat and manage with a few easy steps.

You will need the following:

  • Cotton swab
  • Warm water
  • Paper towel
  • Small pair of scissors

1. Gently wipe away the pasty material from your chick’s butt with a cotton swab dipped in warm water. It’s important to note that baby chicks have a belly button located beneath the feathers near the vent. Just like human babies, there is a small amount of tissue that dries up and falls off. Be sure not to confuse this tissue with the vent and try to pull it off, as it could disembowel the chick.

2. Blot-dry the area with a paper towel to dry the chick.

3. Trim the feathers around the vent area to allow air circulation and prevent future build-up of debris.

4. Keep your chicks stress-free and ensure their environment is clean and dry.

5. Feed them the right type and amount of feed for optimal nutrition.

6. If your chick has a reoccurring pasty butt, use some petroleum jelly to help prevent the pasty material from sticking to their feathers.

How to Prevent Pasty Butt in Chicks

Pasty butt in chicks can be prevented with proper care and management.

Provide Proper Nutrition: Feed your chicks a balanced diet appropriate for their age. This diet will ensure they have the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

Keep The Brooder Clean and Well-Ventilated: Make sure you have clean, dry bedding, and ventilation. This environment will help reduce the chances of bacteria or fungi growing in the brooder.

Minimize Stress: Keep your chicks stress-free by providing a quiet, comfortable environment with minimal disturbance.

Monitor Temperature and Humidity Levels: Baby chicks need to be kept at the right temperature to stay healthy and prevent disease. Monitor the temperature and humidity levels to ensure they are within a safe range.


Pasty butt in chicks can be serious, but it can easily be prevented or treated with proper care. You can keep your baby chicks healthy and happy by following the steps outlined above.

Monitor them closely for signs of pasty butt and take action as soon as possible if any are detected. With the right knowledge and care, you can help ensure your chicks have a healthy and safe start in life, especially when you order them from our family of hatcheries.

Key Takeaways

  • Pasty butt in chicks is a condition that can cause distress, even death, in young birds if left untreated.
  • Proper care and attention are key to preventing or treating pasty butt in chicks.
  • If pasty butt does occur, it is important to act quickly by cleaning the vent area with warm water.


  1. Hedlund L, Palazon T, Jensen P. Stress during Commercial Hatchery Processing Induces Long-Time Negative Cognitive Judgement Bias in Chickens. Animals. 2021;11(4):1083. doi:10.3390/ani11041083
  2. Humidity in Incubation. Brinsea.com. Published 2016. Accessed January 9, 2023. https://www.brinsea.com/Articles/Advice/Humidity.aspx
  3. The K. Feeding Chickens at Different Ages | The Chicken Chick®. The-chicken-chick.com. Published November 9, 2012. Accessed January 9, 2023. https://the-chicken-chick.com/feeding-chickens-at-different-ages/