You can’t read about caring for chicks without coming across a malady called pasty butt. It is every bit as joyous as it sounds.
When droppings get stuck and build up on the baby chick’s down surrounding the vent and create a blockage, which can become fatal, this is called pasty butt. And this was one of numerous things I felt unequipped to deal with as I fretted over learning to care for these seemingly delicate little creatures.
But a funny thing happened when I arrived home with my box of chicks and put them in their dog-crate-turned-brooder in my bathroom.
I took each one out of the box and stuck the tiny little beak into the water – as instructed by everything I read – this helps them learn where the water is, food they have no trouble figuring out on their own apparently. Once everyone had some water, they settled into a little bit of exploring before collapsing in their tracks to nap. Suddenly I was completely relaxed and at ease with the latest creatures who were entrusting their lives to me. I found myself soothed by their sweet little chirps signaling that they were happy and enjoying their new digs and endless supply of food and water and even sticks to climb on.
Then one evening after coming home from work as I sat in the bathroom listening to the chicks tell me about their day, I saw it, a clump of poop on one of the Australorps. OK, here we go.
The sound a baby chick makes when you are stressing it out by trying to catch it is a screech that made me, well, stressed. No one seemed to accept what I was saying as I tried to speak in soothing tones and convince this tiny little bird I was here to make things better.
A little warm water, belly rubs and warm blow dryer and Pasty Butt Boy was good as new! The blockage would occur one more time a few days later and this time I was rewarded with my efforts to clean him up and make him feel better with a huge glob of poop on my hand. Thanks!
Worth noting, at this point only one bird had a name – Millie. And I was still convinced they were all females, but somehow I kept instantly calling Pasty Butt Boy, well, a boy. This would turn out to be prophetic. As Pasty Butt Boy, who would later be called Padma, would indeed turn out to be a roo.