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1.5 week old Chick pecking at their rear

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by sahchickenmama, Mar 22, 2017.

  1. sahchickenmama

    sahchickenmama Hatching

    Mar 22, 2017
    Hi There,

    I am totally new to chickens. I have 1.5 week old chicks who are pecking at their rear ends. They are obviously developing feathers, that I can see. But my concern is that a couple of them are pecking all of the fluff and feathers off of their rear ends, leaving their skin exposed and the feather matter dangling off of their bottoms. I see that some of them have some fecal matter building up on their bottoms as well. What should I do? Am I supposed to bathe them regularly so they don't get a build up of poop on their bottoms? Is this normal? I'm clueless!

    Thank you in Advance!!

  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC!

    Yes, you need to remove the fecal matter.
    Do a search on 'pasty butt'.
    Pasty butt is most often caused to too high brooder temps.
    What are you feeding them?

    Here's my notes on chick heat, hope something in there might help:
    They need to be pretty warm(~85-90F on the brooder floor right under the lamp and 10-20 degrees cooler at the other end of brooder) for the first day or two, especially if they have been shipped, until they get to eating, drinking and moving around well. But after that it's best to keep them as cool as possible for optimal feather growth and quicker acclimation to outside temps. A lot of chick illnesses are attributed to too warm of a brooder. I do think it's a good idea to use a thermometer on the floor of the brooder to check the temps, especially when new at brooding, later I still use it but more out of curiosity than need.

    The best indicator of heat levels is to watch their behavior:
    If they are huddled/piled up right under the lamp and cheeping very loudly, they are too cold.
    If they are spread out on the absolute edges of the brooder as far from the lamp as possible, panting and/or cheeping very loudly, they are too hot.
    If they sleep around the edge of the lamp calmly just next to each other and spend time running all around the brooder they are juuuust right!

    The lamp is best at one end of the brooder with food/water at the other cooler end of the brooder, so they can get away from the heat or be under it as needed. Wattage of 'heat' bulb depends on size of brooder and ambient temperature of room brooder is in. Regular incandescent bulbs can be used, you might not need a 'heat bulb'. You can get red colored incandescent bulbs at a reptile supply source. A dimmer extension cord is an excellent way to adjust the output of the bulb to change the heat without changing the height of the lamp.

    Or you could go with a heat plate, commercially made or DIY: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/pseudo-brooder-heater-plate
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2017
    1 person likes this.
  3. MigraineMan

    MigraineMan Chirping

    Mar 11, 2017
    Frederick, Maryland
    We learned very quickly that you need to check your chicks' butts at least twice a day for the first two weeks. If poo dries on the vent (aka "the multi-purpose butt hole") it can stick shut and cause terminal constipation. Sometimes a wet paper towel will be enough to dislodge the crust, but other times it's more tenacious and will require a butt-bath. Get a small plastic bowl with some warm water and gently spash the water onto the chick's butt. Hold on - she's going to object and try to get away. Don't pull the dingleberries, as that can injure the chick (they're pretty fragile things.) But you can figure out where the turd-component is and try to gently break it with your fingers. Keep everything wet, and it will tend to turn to mush. Often, the chick will evacuate as soon as the vent is un-corked. Don't freak ... it's just chicken poo and won't kill you. You can wash-up afterwards. Dry the chick with a towel before returning her to the brooder.

    Our chicks are coming up on 3 weeks now, and they seem to be capable of grooming themselves and each other. If one gets injured and bleeds a little, you need to put a dab of Blu-Kote or equivalent on the area - the other chicks will peck a bleeder to death. They will instinctively peck at anything red.
    1 person likes this.
  4. sahchickenmama

    sahchickenmama Hatching

    Mar 22, 2017

    I really appreciate you both taking the time to help me figure out what's going on, and how I can help my baby chicks!! I have never heard of such a thing...such an important piece of information. [​IMG]

    Best Wishes!!

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