Not sure why it happens, but my experience is
- Winter Babies are more susceptible
- Usually starts showing up on Day 3
- If a chick is going to get it, they will usually get it by the end of Week 1
- By Week 2, it's usually gone
- Most of the time, a chick will only need one or two cleanings
- Sometimes a particular chickie has a more long term issue, but is still usually cleared up by Week 2
- Chickie grit may help reduce the incidents, but I haven't kept good enough records to say that this is conclusively so
- Chickie electrolytes may help the chickies through the stress of butt cleaning (and shipping and other traumas), but I have had near perfect results of chickies making it to adulthood with and without it
The objective is to keep the chick wet and distressed the least amount of time, so prep work is important.
- Run heater in the bathroom and bring the temp up to 95*F or so
- Put some pretty warm water in a bowl
- Tear up large paper towels into fourths and smaller ones in half
- Some people use Q-tips in place of or in addition to; I don't use them "in place of" because it takes too long. I don't use "in addition to" because I find that mostly I just knock them on the floor
- Have some kitchen towels or clean shop rags available to dry off chickies
- Put sheets of paper towels in the bottom of a box that just barely allows for one and a half times the number of chicks you plan to work on
- Instead of trying to figure out who needs cleaning and potentially picking up many chicks more than once, I put them all in a box in the brooder (so everyone stays warm), and then remove anyone who is a fluffy butt.
- Pasty Butts go into the smaller box and are whisked away into the pre-heated bathroom
- I usually note what breed and how many had Pasty Butt on any given day
[I am right handed; you may wish to reverse the hands if you are left handed.]
- Make a C with your left hand - you are going to pick up the chick so the their butt is showing through the C and their head is pointing towards the floor. You want to fold the legs and wings against the body like how they are when they are sitting on the ground.
- Grasp tight enough that the wings and legs cannot flap, but soft enough that they aren't crushed (well, duh). A firm grip will keep them from struggling. If they are wiggling, you may be gripping too gently.
- Turn hand upside down and dunk butt into water. Hold in the very warm water for 10-15 to 20 seconds, depending how big and hard the stuck on chickie poo is.
- Remove chickie's butt from water, pat dry with a paper towel piece
- Dampen a paper towel piece and use to remove the poo
- Be careful not to rip the skin or damage the little butt hole, but also make sure to clean well so the next time the chickie poos, it doesn't get caught on left over pieces.
- Some chickies will require a second dunking
- If more than two dunkings of the chickie but in nearly hot water are needed, I let the chickie warm up, dry off, and take an hour or two break. Usually even if there is still crud on it, they will be able to relieve themself.
- When clean, I pat dry with a dish cloth, and return to their Pasty Butt flock-mates in their little box
- Former Pasty Butts are usually pooping like crazy at this point, so if I have more than 2 or 3 Pasty Butts, I check and add a fresh layer of paper towels in their box as needed.
- I semi-close the lid of the box or drape a clean dish towel over the top after the last one. This dims the lighting and usually puts everyone to sleep or at least calms them down.
- I keep them in the warm bathroom until they are dry
- When I return them to the brooder, I set them down one at a time, right in front of the waterer - they are often thirsty and will drink a lot of water at this point