How to Look After Baby Chickens
Q: What is Pasty Butt? What is Pasting Up?
A: These names are all given to the same unfortunate but dangerous condition of baby chickens where you have to make sure they don’t get all pasted up by poop. Chickens have one orifice called the cloacal vent, for laying eggs, defecating and urinating – all through the same outlet. But in baby chickens, the vent can all too easily get pasted up by very sticky poop, and if you want to look after your baby chickens, there is no choice but to help solve the problem. If the dried poop is not cleared, the vent opening will get blocked, and just completely closed up by more droppings, until the baby chicken will die.
Pasty Butt can kill you baby chickens, and you have to fix it immediately!
Q: How to fix Pasty Butt?
A: There is no other solution but to get your hands dirty, and try to help your baby chickens, before the pasty poop gets too bad. To clear the pasty butt, you will have to catch your baby chicken, and while holding it gently, use warm wet towel, and first try to dampen the area to soften the dried poop, and try to release whatever the pasty poop is sticking to. It is nasty stuff, and will stick to skin as well as feathers, so we have to be careful. Whatever you do, don’t just pull the dried poop off just yet, we need to go slowly, otherwise the baby chickens might die. Don’t pull feathers or skin off, as the stress will overcome the baby chickens, and they will not survive.
If the pasty butt is quite severe, you might even have to soak the affected area in warm soapy water, and completely wash the baby chickens rear end in the water. Keep washing the sticky poop until it softens or is ready to release.
Only when the dried poop is soft enough to wipe off, you can start to actually clean the baby chickens. So carefully wipe the pasty poop until the vent area is clean and clear. The little chick will no doubt kick up quite a tantrum while all this is happening, but despite the bad manners, you just have to keep going, as you are the only one who can save the life of your baby chickens!
Once you have cleared the pasty butt, keep the baby chicken warm and dry, and return it with the other chicks so that it will by happy and content. Please keep a close eye on the baby chickens with pasty butt, as it can come back in the early weeks of your little chick’s life!
Q: What about the Umbilical Cord?
A: Baby chickens do have an umbilical cord when they are very young, and when you are checking them for pasty butt, you might notice a thin black string under their abdomen. Don’t rip it off! It is not related to Pasty Butt, and will fall off naturally in a couple of days. If you pull it off, it can stress the baby chickens and they might die.
Q: How do I look after Baby Chickens?
A: Taking care of baby chickens is a lot of fun for the whole family, and even your little kids will be enthralled to watch the baby chickens play around every day, or sleep, or snuggle up together with other baby chickens to keep warm. They love to eat, they love to drink, they love to play, and they love to sleep. There isn’t really much else to it, but you will need to look after them several times through the day, and sometimes even through the night!
Q: What do Baby Chickens live in?
A: You will need to get a Chicken Brooder. You need to house your baby chickens in a segregated area, away from larger chickens, they do not need to be keep with adult chickens. A brooding box, or brooder is a good way to raise baby chickens, as you can control their food and water, and especially their temperature for the first few weeks. You can buy a purpose built brooder, or you can make your own brooding box, but make sure the baby chickens are secure and that no little fingers can chase them, or even be aware that the friendly and trusted family cat can change character when baby chickens are around!
Q: How do I keep baby Chickens warm?
A: In your baby chicken brooder, you need to provide a heart lamp. This is special warming light that you turn on and leave on for the first couple of weeks when your baby chickens are growing up. Baby chickens are very cute and fluffy, but they need the heat lamp to keep warm, and they will often huddle up together under the warm light while they are resting and sleeping. Keep a close eye on your baby chickens, if they are huddled too close, or shivering, then lower the heat lamp a little closer or get another heat lamp to keep them warmer. If the baby chickens are all spread around the outside of the warm light circle, then they are too hot, and you need to raise the heat lamp. As they get older you can reduce the amount of heating that they need.
Q: What bedding do baby chickens need?
A: Give your baby chickens a nice warm bed made up of soft sawdust, or fine straw, and spread it all round the floor of the brooding box. Don’t worry if it get s scratched around, or dirty, you will need to change it at least once a week or maybe more often.
Q: What do Baby Chickens eat and Drink?
A: Baby Chicken food. You will need to buy special chick food for your baby chickens, which is small enough for them to peck and eat, and full of nutrients that they need at their early stages of there life. Don’t try to feed them on adult chicken food, as they simply won’t be able to digest it, and they will likely die. Make sure you give them enough food so that there is always something available to eat.
Fresh Water. Baby chickens need easy access to fresh water, and even when they have never had a water bowl before, they will quickly work out how to get a drink by themselves. You need to make sure that it is not a deep bowl that they can drown in, or get all wet and cold. Make sure you give them enough water so that there is always something available to drink.
The only other thing to look out for is that baby chickens continually scratch and kick their food and water and bedding all over the place! While it is very cute to see them scramble all over each other to be the first to get to the food, it can get a bit messy! No matter how much you try to keep them clean and tidy, the will make an even bigger mess. All you can really do is tend to your baby chickens regularly, and try to keep food in the food bowl and water in the water bowl, as best you can!