What is pasty butt?
Now that you’ve decided to order guinea fowl, you’re horrified to find they developed Pasty Butt! How do I treat pasty butt? What is pasty butt? Pasty butt is what happens when the vent of the keet is pasted shut with dried poop which makes it unable to properly perform #2’s (and #1’s since guinea fowl do both at the same time.) Pasty butt may cause death if left untreated so don’t just wrinkle your nose and hope it goes away.
Let’s identify what we’re working with. Keets have a “belly button” where they have absorbed the yolk. It is not unusual to dried residue caked on or around their belly button. Don’t get this confused with the vent since you can cause serious injury if you try to pull the belly button off the keet.
How do I treat my guinea fowl keets that have pasty butt?
There is a lot of advice floating around as to how to treat pasty butt. Here’s what I do (and it’s worked pretty well):
1. Treat the keet indoors or someplace where it won’t catch a chill. The treatment process includes making the keet so you want to be sure you’re somewhere warm.
2. Hold the keet gently upside down with the vent easily accessible. Hold the pasted shut vent under a thin trickle of mildly warm water. Do this for a minute or two so the dried poop can absorb water and get softer. Once the poop is soft, very gently rub the caked poop back and forth so it breaks off. Don’t yank it off or you can hurt the chick.
3. Once the poop is removed, simply grab a hair dryer and put it on the “warm” setting. You want to avoid making the keet too hot. Hold the hair dryer on the back of your hand. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for the keet. Keep the hair blower a safe distance from the keet and waft back and forth until the meet’s butt is soft and fluff once again!
4. Treat the area by applying a smidge of Vaseline or triple antibiotic with a Q-tip to the now clean vent area.
How do I prevent pasty butt?
Typically the primary cause of pasty butt is stress. Keets can be stressed from many things such as being shipped in the mail or not being the right temperature. With this in mind here are some tips to help prevent pasty butt in chickens:
1. Keep your brooder at the right temperature. Keets that are too hot will have diarrhea and diarrhea causes pasty butt. Make sure your radiant heat lamp isn’t too close to the keets. If the keets are panting (breathing through opened beaks) and huddled in the corners of the pen as far away as they can get from the heat lamp, then they are too hot. If they are all huddled right underneath the lamp, then they are too cold. If pasty butt occurs several days after you get the chicks in the mail, chances are it’s not stress from shipping. Put a thermometer in your brooder on the floor level to double check the temperature. Keets should be 90-95 degrees the first week and then the temperature can be dropped 5 degrees every week thereafter.
2. Supplement your flock’s diet with apple cider vinegar (not distilled). The vinegar with the most probiotics (bacteria that help maintain gut health and aid digestion) will have “the mother” still in it. “The mother” is part of the fermentation process that has not been filtered out. When keets who are having digestive issues, apple cider vinegar is a good tool to help build up gut health and to help with disease prevention.
3. Keep your keets hydrated with electrolytes. When keets are experiencing diarrhea they can become dehydrated from loss of liquids. Electrolytes help replenish minerals and nutrients. This in turn helps the keet recover and prevent reoccurrence.
Note: Molasses is sometimes said to help with pasty butt. However, it’s generally used to cure constipation. While pasty butt is a form of constipation, it’s from poop sticking to the downy bottom of the keet, not from colon impaction. Molasses will typically not help with pasty butt and can make it worse because it makes the poop runny. Runny poop will leave residue on feathers and can cause buildup that will cause pasty butt.
This is not a conclusive list of things that could be causing pasty butt in French guinea fowl. However, it typically addresses most of the problems that have arisen with our customers.