Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Bath with Little Miss Sunshine


One of my chickens, Sunshine, has a poopy butt. 

{I will spare you the photo.}

I was worried about this, since I often shoot pictures of my chickens' butts, and a poopy butt could be a real photo-op-ruining moment.

{You all shoot chicken butt photos too, right?}

Actually, I was worried she might have chicken diarrhea or coccidia or have eaten the sprayed soybeans in the neighbor's field. So I asked an on-line chicken forum about it.

{You didn't know you could ask about chicken butts on-line?  Well, you can, thank goodness.}

Nobody responded.  Apparently, poopy-adult-chicken-butt isn't a common problem. Baby chicks are another story however. "Pasty butt" happens to baby chicks, where runny poo dries so hard it can seal off their vent (poo hole) and they can't eliminate and can die. 

When my girls were this age back in April, I had a few pasty butts to clean that first week they came home.

That's chip I'm holding above, an Americana, who is also in the next photo.  Ack! Where did my little "cute-as-a-Chip-&-Dale-Chipmunk" go?

Sorry Chip, you know I luv ya, but ye ain't the cutest chick on the block I'm afraid.

But back to Sunshine.

Not content with my "no response" forum, I checked another on-line forum (yes there are multiple places to ask chicken butt questions), and here I found a variety of possible causes and solutions.  They ranged from the benign to the serious. 
  • Posture issues - chickens that don't squat far enough to miss their butt feathers - ignore it. 
  • No cause - just trim their butt feathers real short all the time {Brrrr?}
  • Give them a bath when you get one that is prone to having this.
  • Mites and lice and bugs - oh my! Dust 'em with pesticides! Douse 'em with wormers!
For good measure I decided to rewatch my Chicken Video DVD because I remember her showing how to give a chicken a bath. In her "general chicken care" chapter, she didn't cover "poopy-adult-butt" syndrome but she did cover a non-chemical way to deal with mites - give the chicken a bath in soapy water but don't rinse it off her feathers.  The soap will form a seal around the mites when it dries, killing them.

Aha!  So I could give her a soapy bath during which I could wash off all the poo, and it might also treat her if she had any mite problems. 

{I do also put diatomaceous earth in their dust bathing areas since this will also help kill mites.}

So this morning before I went out to the coop, I got a dog kennel set up in the bathroom, some extra towels, a bucket in the tub with warm soapy water, turned the space heater on, and went to get Sunshine.

She was sitting in a nest box.  Perfect timing.

I came back a little later and nabbed her.  She lets me pick her up all the time, so this was not a dramatic moment.  At first she was all "I-know-you're-just-going-to-hold-me-for-awhile-and-put-me-down," with her happy clucking noises.  Then we approached the house, and I saw a look of distinct, "Wait-this-isn't-what-we-normally-do" accompanied by some louder clucking noises.

Then we went inside, and her clucking escalated and increased in frequency.  Into the bathroom, then into the bucket.  Now she was definitely all "WHAT-THE-HECK-ARE-YOU-DOING-TO-ME??" She even tried to fly out of the bucket a few times.

But then she sort of settled in, stopped fighting, and seemed to rather enjoy her bath.  Maybe she understood that I was trying to remove the crusted poo that was probably tugging on her butt feathers all day long. Or maybe she was dissociating. It's hard to tell with chickens.

But for the rest of her bath, she just stayed calm and let me get the soapy water up under her parts and work the poo off her butt.

{By the way, a wet chicken smells kind of like wet dog. And looks even more pathetic.}

I thought I could dry her off with a towel and leave her in the kennel in the toasty warm bathroom for awhile, but she wasn't getting much drier, so I ended up blow-drying her off.

{I kid you not.}

She tolerated this just as she tolerated her bath - calmly.  I am eternally grateful for being able to practice this entire maneuver on our tamest chicken. I shudder to think what Shia Lebeouf (our other Buff Orpington) would have done under similar circumstances.

After her coif & curl session it was time to head back outside. I figured she'd fly off my arm at her first opportunity, what with all the torture and stuff. But she stayed perched on my arm when I took her outside, even preening her feathers a bit.  Eventually she hopped down, and mingled into her flock.

Later when I went out with treats, she came right up to me, apparently forgiving me for her ordeal (dissociation helps with that I'm sure).

And when she turned around, I couldn't even tell which buff-colored fluffy butt was hers anymore.

All was right in the world again.

The End
Gypsy Farmgirl washes a chicken


Jess said...

Chicken butt photos? Ummm... yeah. Guilty as charged.

I have a poultry mites and lice story, a really different one from yours. If I can figure out a nice way to write the ending I'll blog it. (Involved a sickly animal someone dumped here, which infuriates me)

Haley said...

Amazing! We got ours as 9 month old pullets so novo lading ours.

Anonymous said...

You should write children's books about poopy chicken butts :D

Victoria Strauser said...

Thanks Haley! I'm not sure what "lovo lading" means, but have fun with those pullets!

Victoria Strauser said...

Haha winkieflash - that's a good idea!

Victoria Strauser said...

Yikes Jess - that would be frustrating to be dumped on like that!

Haley said...

Silly iPhone! It auto corrected, I meant no petting for us since got ours at such an old age. LOL

Victoria Strauser said...

Haley - LOL! That's too funny. I thought it was a latin term or something!

Anita said...

You made me laugh out loud with the story!! xDD

Victoria Strauser said...

Anita - thanks for visiting and I'm glad it made you laugh!

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