It’s always exciting to have baby chicks, whether they are from your local agriculture store or you hatched them yourself: those cute little chirps and fluffy little butts.
But when it comes to butts, there is more there than cuteness. They can tell us a lot about the chick’s health. For example, have you ever wondered if baby chicks can get constipated?
Just like us, baby chicks can get constipated or have problems pooping. It’s no fun for us, and it’s not fun for them either!
I’m going to go over the things to be aware of when it comes to the health of your baby chicks. And I will also discuss why they can get constipated and what you can do to help.
What to Expect With Newborn Chicks?
Having a healthy flock starts right from birth. Most chicks from Tractor Supply or other stores are only two to three days old! Talk about newborns!
But they grow quickly! Newborn chicks will double their weight at birth in the first week. During those first few days of life, baby chicks go through many changes.
Let’s take a look at what to expect in a newborn chick.
- They Should be Alert
- Bright Eyes
- Straight Legs
- Fluffy Feathers
- Not Acting Withdrawn
They Should Be Alert
Baby chicks should be alert and active, and they should be chirping and pecking at their food. Baby chicks sleep a lot, but a healthy chick will perk right up once she’s woken. Babies that aren’t healthy may sleep all the time and aren’t easily roused.
A healthy chick should be bright-eyed and alert. You should see them looking around at their surroundings. On the other hand, a baby with crusty eyes, or a blank, tired stare, may not be healthy.
Those little legs and toes should be straight, and the chick should be able to waddle around just fine. Any chick that seems to be having difficulty walking may have a problem with its posture.
Baby chicks are notorious for their fluffy feathers, and this is what makes them the irresistible puff balls they are. Any chick you see that is missing feathers could be ill.
Not Acting Withdrawn
Chickens are flock animals by nature. While they may be brave enough to move to other parts of the brooder, baby chicks generally will stick together. If you see a chick that is withdrawn or staying in a corner by herself, there is a chance she may not be feeling well.
Can My Newborn Chicks Get Constipated?
There is nothing worse than knowing your animal friends are not feeling well. Unfortunately, they can’t tell us, so it is up to us to be on the lookout for signs.
Especially during those first few days of life, chicks can become stressed quite easily with travel and new environments. And one of the results of stress is constipation. So let’s look at what can cause this and what you can do to help.
As silly as it may sound, pasty butt is an actual thing. Most common in baby chicks, pasty butt is when the bird’s vent gets poop stuck on and around it, and it almost becomes like a paste. This is a problem because it can prevent them from pooping and can lead to death in some cases.
What Causes Pasty Butt?
A few things can cause pasty butt, and it usually begins with a stressor. It’s usually seen only in newborns, and adult birds typically aren’t affected.
Ingredients in the chick’s diet that aren’t easily digestible can cause the food to get sticky. Thus, it gets stuck to the bird’s back passage.
In relation to diet, a newborn chick’s digestive enzymes aren’t fully mature yet, and this will usually straighten out by the time they are ten days old. Things should even out once the enzymes are at full production and the bird’s vent grows.
Stress can often be the culprit for pasty butt, and it usually comes from transport. However, a dramatic shift in temperatures can also bring about great stress.
Parasites, coccidiosis being the most common, or other infections can cause runny stools that may become pasty.
Treating Pasty Butt
Thankfully, treating pasty butt is very easy. By following these easy steps, you can almost guarantee the problem will clear up.
Inspect the Vent
This should be happening as soon as you get your chicks. A chick’s vent is located just below the tail and is not to be confused with its little belly button.
Clean Her Up
If you see poop stuck to your chick’s behind, simply get a warm, wet cloth and apply gentle pressure to loosen the stool. You can even run its bottom under warm water. Just be sure it’s not too hot!
Once the poop has softened, you just use a cotton swab to help remove it. Make sure the fecal matter is soft enough to be wiped off. Don’t pick off dried poop because you can tear off its feathers.
If you find that the manure is particularly hard to remove, a cotton ball dabbed in vegetable oil should help to soften it.
Make Sure She’s Dry
Because baby chicks get cold very quickly, make sure you minimize the time it is wet and dry it in a clean towel after you’ve removed the poop. You can even use a blow dryer on a low setting to warm her up.
Baby chicks are not good at regulating their body temperature, so you want to avoid letting them get too cold.
She Ate Something She Can’t Pass?
It’s quite possible that a constipated chick ate something that it just can’t pass without trouble. It could have eaten a piece of shaving from her brooder. She appears to be straining, and her vent may look red and irritated.
How Can I Help Her Pass Her Stool?
If the chick is genuinely constipated, you can also soak her bum in warm water and gently massage around the vent with your fingers or a warm cloth. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of manipulation on your part.
Apply a Lubricant
Applying a small amount of vegetable oil or lubricant around the vent can also help make things easier to pass. Finally, if its vent looks irritated, using a small amount of cortisone cream should help to ease its discomfort.
Get Some Oil into Her
Often chicks need to have a gentle oil coat their digestive track to get things moving. You can use a medicine dropper and give her small drops of coconut oil. Just be sure not to force it on her.
Consult a Veterinarian
If all else fails and you still can’t seem to get your little one some relief, it may be time to reach out to an avian veterinarian. You could also reach out to more experienced chicken keepers and see if they have any ideas on how to help your baby chick.
Caring for newborn chicks can be a little daunting as there is so much to look out for health-wise. And one of those issues is constipation.
It’s not pleasant for anyone, but it is usually an easy fix and one that you can tend to yourself. Taking care of any and all health problems will ensure the happiness of your little ones.
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