Chickens may not be the first animal that comes to mind when thinking about water, but the swimming abilities of these distinct farm animals may surprise you. Despite their lack of waterproof feathers, chickens can indeed swim safely in shallow water for a short length of time while supervised. Whether you’re a chicken owner or just curious to find out more, here is all you need to know about these birds and their relationship with water.
Do Chickens Like Getting In Water?
While chickens aren’t natural-born swimmers like ducks, they are able to swim without difficulty and do in fact like water. Allowing your chickens to soak in water can be a great idea to help them beat the summer heat, keep them clean, or simply as a source of entertainment that’s out of the ordinary.
If you do decide to introduce your chickens to water, it’s important to only use shallow water. You’ll also need to supervise them to ensure that they don’t panic and start to sink – chickens with a calmer nature are much more likely to perform better at swimming. Do not allow chickens into large bodies of water such a swimming pool. While they can swim, they can get into difficulties in deep water.
When supervising your chickens, you should also monitor the time in which they spend in the water. As chicken’s feathers are not designed to repel water, they may become fatigued and put themselves at risk for drowning. Chickens are helpless animals, so they’ll need your assistance in getting out the water and drying off to avoid catching a chill. Similar to young children, chickens may not realize they’ve become cold after a long time spent in water, therefore they’ll need your careful supervision at all times.
Unless it’s a hot day, remember to dry off your chicken with a hairdryer on a low setting to keep the risk of hypothermia as minimized as possible.
Can Chickens Float?
Chickens don’t produce the same oils as ducks and other waterfowl to help them stay afloat. Luckily, chickens do have a small level of natural buoyancy which would give you enough time to rescue them should you find them quickly after they’ve accidentally fallen into a deep body of water.
Are Chickens Waterproof?
Chicken’s feathers aren’t waterproof either – this is why it’s important to remember that the water you are allowing your chickens to swim in is shallow enough for them not to drown.
Can Chicks Swim?
Unlike their parents, chicks should stay clear of water and you should take precautions to ensure that they are not at risk of falling in. Water poses a big threat to young chicks because their feathers are not fully developed, meaning they are able to freeze and possibly drown at a much quicker rate than chickens would. Even their own drinking water or a small puddle left by the rain can put a chick’s life in danger. Keep chicks sheltered away from wet and cold weather, and always give them a shallow water trough to drink from. If you find that your chick has fallen into water, make sure to warm them up with your hands or with a heat lamp if possible.
Chickens and Swimming Pools
Allowing a chicken to swim in deep water such as a swimming pool is a very unwise decision. Alongside the deepness of the water, the chlorine that is present in swimming pools can pose a huge health risk for your chicken. However, small plastic paddling pools are usually safe as long as you supervise your chicken and provide a ramp to allow them to easily get in and out.