Pasty Butt

Most backyard chicken keepers get only a handful of chicks, which are doted over and minutely observed. One of the great worries of these new hen mamas and papas is pasty butt. This is the general term for a vent that has manure hardened over the vent, which can block more poo from coming out. It certainly looks uncomfortable.


Before I write these posts I do research. I like to know what people did in the past, before factory farming. I have numerous books written at the turn of the last century which are filled with advice for the small-scale poultry keeper. I looked through 24 books. Not a one mentioned pasty butt. Nor blocked vent. Is this a new disease? Or are we overly concerned about a bit of manure?

Gail Damerow, in her new book Hatching & Brooding Your Own Chicks, calls it pasting, and writes half a page about it. My advice is even more succinct. It’s easy to take care of. Simply pick up the chick and gently break up and remove the lump of manure. If it’s stuck on hard, soften with warm water. It will come right off. The above photo was taken the first week that my chicks arrived. I removed about six little poo balls. That was it. If pasty butt is rampant in your group of chicks, look at what you are feeding. Do they have grit available to help them digest their food? Are they drinking their fresh water? Are they bored and consuming bedding?

If what you see on your little chicks’ bottoms is bloody diarrhea, then it’s not pasty butt, it is coccidiosis, caused by a protozoa, and it’s lethal if not treated with medication. If what you see is thin, brown, runny and stinky, then it is vent gleet, caused by a yeast infection.

But, most likely, all that’s there is a bit of dried poo, something so normal and basic that not one of my vintage books mention it at all.


  1. Have a cup of coffee on me! I may have one myself! great idea and easy to use….

  2. By the looks of the lack of responses so far….pasty chicken butts is still not a popular subject? Personally I find your photo adorable, and have used your advice on this problem on my Barred Rock Hen. It`s the least I could do for her considering she happily? lays the most gigantic eggs for me, almost every day.

  3. Pasty butt is an introduction to chicken keeping because there’s just going to be a whole lot of poop management in your future! One of my Barred Rocks, Scarlett, had pasty butt and is perpetually the one with the dirtiest bottom. She doesn’t seem to be in any distress and it doesn’t smell/look any worse than my other girls’ poop so I don’t think that it is vent gleet. I don’t know why theirs doesn’t stick to their bottoms and hers does. Have you noticed a correlation between pasting as a chick and dirty butt as a hen? That sounds so funny to hear myself ask the question! LOL. The things we do for our chickens!

    • I haven’t noticed that correlation, but then again, I don’t have a lot of experience with chicks. I’m also learning prevention. This time around, I didn’t have an issue at all (other than those few little lumps you see in the photo.)

  4. It’s funny, my very first group of layers I ever got, I constantly checked for pasty butt on the advice of the pamphlet that came with them. My broilers, I’ve never checked (because there are roughly 75) and have never had a problem. I will continue to check my pet chicks whenever I get them, but I think for the most part, it’s not something too overly concerning! Thanks for bringing it up!

    • I think that your chicks are better for the more relaxed attitude. It’s stressful for them to have their bums checked several times a day!

  5. I was really thinking about this earlier today. You all probably have a lot more experience with this than I do. Second year with goats and first year with chicks. Last year all my baby goats had “yellow sticky butt”. This year none of them did. Difference? Last year all of the does had medicated feed during their whole pregnancy. This year, no medicated feed. Our first round of chicks are incubated from eggs laid by medication free hens. They didn’t get medicated feed (purchased by a caretaker while we were gone) until their third week. No pasty butt. Does any of that make sense or just coincidence?

    • My guess is that what has changed is your level of experience caring for poultry. Also, medicated feed often has differences in it beyond just the meds, so perhaps the unmedicated is of higher quality. I doubt it was the medication per se. Also, because you’ve now had animals on your property, the very environment has changed. Many variables!

  6. I had a couple pasty butt issues this year, I cleaned thier little bottoms fed them a hard boiled egg and they were good to go, I think my little bantam mottled cochin liked it, it was a bonding moment for us, I think because of that s/he loves to be touched and handled…