Can Chickens Swim? Do they need to be able to swim

chicken in water

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Can chickens swim? A better question may be, ‘should chickens swim?’ While chickens can technically swim, it poses a lot of danger. Chicken feathers only somewhat repel water and are not truly water-proof. This means that chickens dowsed in water will quickly become soaked, and catch a chill. Hypothermia is a strong possibility and can prove fatal.

Chickens do not produce oils like ducks and other birds to protect their feathers and help them float. Therefore, their feathers and skin will become soaked and heavy with the real possibility of sinking or drowning. Hypothermia is also a real threat to chickens that get wet and cannot get dry quick enough.

Also, some chickens will panic in deep water. Even though they’re capable of swimming, they will forget to, in their fear. In fact, all but the shallowest water can prove a risk.

Chickens should never be exposed to more than moderate rain, or a shallow -and supervised- kiddie pool. Chicks should never get wet at all.

Do Chickens Like Water?

The majority of chickens do not like water. In fact, most of them consider it a necessary evil. You may have seen videos of chickens in swimming pools. This is actually pretty unwise, because of the chemicals -such as chlorine- in the pool. Not only that but allowing your chickens to swim in water that deep makes drowning a huge risk.

There are a couple of exceptions: 1) if you have an unusual chicken who actually likes water or 2) hot weather.

 In truly hot weather, even the most water-disdaining chicken may splash around in shallow puddles to cool off. This is typically OK.

There is also the rare, ambitious chicken who will attempt to swim in water like a duck. Obviously, they are not a duck and will need to be kept an eye on!

backyard hen
Most hens don’t like the rain or enjoy swimming in water

Supervise Your Chickens in a Very Shallow Kiddie Pool

If you’d like to give your chickens somewhere to cool off, you could offer them a very shallow kiddie pool. Just make sure that there is at least one, easily-traversed ramp in and out of the pool.

You will also probably want to supervise your chickens in the water. Like children, they may get cold or tired and not realize -and then they will need your help to get out and to dry off. Otherwise, they could still manage to drown or catch a chill.

Can Chickens Float?

Can chickens swim? Well, they can float… however, chicken feathers are not waterproof. They are strictly land birds rather than waterfowl. Their natural buoyancy should give you time to rescue them if they fall into a deep puddle, water dish, or pool.

A chicken in water will quickly become soaked-through, as their feathers will ultimately fail to repel the water. They will quickly catch a chill, and hypothermia becomes a serious risk.

Clearly, although chickens can float, they should still not spend much time in the water.

Chicks Must Never Get Wet

While chickens can get wet, or even potentially swim (in extremely shallow water), chicks must not get wet -ever. Their feathers are pure down, and will not repel the elements at all. Compared to adults, chicks will freeze and drown much faster. Having a chick in water for any amount of time will pose an enormous risk.

In fact, chicks can even drown in drinking water. To help prevent this, many will opt to place stones in their chickens’ drinking water. This will give chicks something to climb onto if they fall in. If your chicks get wet, it is incredibly important to warm them up and dry them off.

Also, keep the water trough very shallow. Have the top (where you fill it) nice and high, and preferably covered, as well. Additionally, you may want to sporadically give the water trough a check.

Chicks should not be exposed to any more than the lightest of rain, and even this is less-than-ideal. Make sure your chicks are kept sheltered from any wet or cold weather.

Will Chickens Drown in Water?

Will chickens drown in water? Compared to many animals, chickens can indeed drown rather easily. This is not because they cannot swim, however. Most chickens are capable of staying afloat in a fix. The question is, will they stay calm enough to?

You see, chickens typically hate deep water. This can cause them to panic and exhaust themselves, rather than using their energy practically. As a result, they may indeed drown.

Other chickens have shown the street-smarts to get themselves out of the water. Either way, for chickens, even remotely-deep water can prove a risk.

This is because chickens are not waterfowl. Unlike ducks, they lack the webbed feet and waterproof feathers necessary to stay warm and effectively maneuver.

Can Chickens Be in the Rain?

Actually, chickens like rain! This is for the same reason that most birds do: because the bugs come out to escape from imminent drowning, and to enjoy the moisture as well. Chickens love a chance to go out in the sprinkle and find a likely wormy or winged-snack.

Just make sure that your chickens can retreat as soon as they need to, into a weather-proof shelter. They should be able to thoroughly dry off. Otherwise, hypothermia can become a risk. Chickens can also be prone to illnesses from moisture-caused fungi, etc.

Make sure your chickens have a safe and dry place to retreat from the rain. Click the link above for Backyard coop prices.

Most of the time, chickens are smart about rain and will know to go indoors in a downpour. Sometimes they may be too distracted by their bug-hunting task, and you will need to round them up yourself.

Eglu Cube is a large chicken coop
Make sure your chickens have a safe and dry place to retreat from the rain

Chickens Will Not Drown in The Rain

Have you ever heard that chickens will drown in the rain? This is a popular myth, that’s just that – a myth! Chickens will not drown simply from standing in the rain. This is only a possibility if they fall into a deep, slippery puddle… drowning simply from staring up at the rain is no true risk.

What Does Hypothermia in Chickens Look Like

If your chickens have been exposed to wet conditions, you will need to keep a lookout for any signs of hypothermia. Are any of your chickens constantly huddled up, or puffed-up?

These can be signs that they’re catching a chill. Chickens developing hypothermia will also become sluggish, and reluctant to move. They may stare off into space and appear quite stiff.

You must care for any afflicted chickens right away, as hypothermia can rapidly become fatal.

What to Do if a Chicken Gets Too Wet

If a chicken gets too wet, you will need to warm them up quickly. For example, some of your chickens may have tried to be out in a downpour. Those rain-disturbed bugs can be a very tempting chicken snack. To help your chickens dry and warm up, they will need to be taken to their coop’s shelter.

If any chickens seem to be showing signs of hypothermia, it is advisable that you take them inside immediately (and temporarily).

Make sure to take precautions against bird-carried sicknesses, by washing your hands after contact with your chicken, the area surrounding, etc.

You will need to warm towels up in the microwave, and wrap the afflicted chickens snugly. Hold your chicken or at least have them above-ground, to insulate them further.

Eventually, your chicken should begin to revive and move. You may wish to get their metabolism going with a snack. You can move them to a -sheltered, reasonably warm coop- once they seem completely OK.

How long do chickens swim for?

They can  only swim for up to 15 minutes before tiring themselves out.

Do chickens like swimming?

They aren’t good swimmers, but they do like water. On warm days you can put out a very shallow bucket with a few inches of water for chickens to enjoy.

Will my chicken drown?

Chickens can drown quite easily. When giving them water, don’t give it to them in deep dishes they have to lean into or they can fall in. 

Should I give my chicken a bath?

Chickens don’t need baths because they clean themselves. But if you notice they are extra dirty, or another chicken has pooped on them, you might need to bathe them yourself. Make sure they are dry before putting them back outside.

Too-Deep Drinking Water Can Be a Real Risk

Oh, chickens… they can be a bit feather-brained at times, and -believe it or not- drowning in too-deep drinking water can be a real risk. That’s right -it’s not just the chicks that can become stuck.

This makes it all-the-more important that the water dish or trough in your coop is nice and shallow. Keep it up high, so that chickens of all ages can access it, but falling in won’t be a risk.

So, as you can see, there’s no need to deprive your chickens of a rainy-hunt… unless there’s a downpour. And chickens can even -if they choose- swim supervised in a shallow kiddie pool.

You will want to keep your chickens warm and dry most of the time, however.

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