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Can Chickens Swim?

Chickens are equipped to swim for short periods of time, but are not good swimmers and can easily drown if left in a body of water for more than five or ten minutes. Chickens do not have waterproof feathers, so they will become waterlogged and the weight will pull them down. If you are concerned that your chickens are too hot in the summer you can put them in a shallow kiddie pool or pan of water that is low enough that they can easily stand and fly out when they are done

Do Chickens Like Getting In Water?

No, chickens with access to bodies of water are not known for getting into it. They avoid it, and also avoid rain, seeking shelter under bushes, in pens, or other sheltered areas. The reason chickens avoid rain is that their feathers are not waterproof. If they stay out in the heavy rain, their feathers will become wet and they will get chilled down to their skin. Therefore, they generally avoid getting wet. It is a survival instinct.

There may be rare exceptions to this rule in extremely hot weather conditions. If a chicken is overheating, some cool water may be a welcome relief. This can vary from chicken to chicken. It is not a rule that every chicken in hot weather will enjoy a short dip in cool water. Many prefer to cool off by drinking ice water and finding some shade to rest in.

Do Chickens Float?

Just like their duck cousins, adult chickens will float in water. However, they cannot float for long periods of time. Their ability to float is probably a survival mechanism to give them a chance to get out of a lake or pond if they fall in while getting a drink. Never leave a chicken unattended in deep water. You cannot know at what moment their waterlogged feathers will overcome their ability to float and pull them down underwater.

Are chickens Waterproof?

Ducks and other waterproof birds produce oil in their preen gland, they get this oil on their beak and then carefully coat all their feathers with the oil. This is why water just rolls off their back. You may have noticed water rolling off your chicken’s back in a light rain. However, they are not waterproof in the same way as ducks.

While chickens, like most birds, do have a preen gland with oil, the type of oil produced varies by the species of bird. The oil that chickens produce is water resistant, helping them stay dry in a light rain, but not waterproof. The oil also repels dirt and parasites to help the chicken stay clean.

In addition to differences in the type of oil secreted in waterfowl and hens, keep in mind that the structure of the feathers on the body is quite different. Ducks feathers stack in a very neat way creating a sleek look. Whereas chickens are fluffy, their feathers do not stack in the same way. This makes is much easier for water to find its way through to the skin.

So while chicken feathers are somewhat water resistant, they are not designed to be waterproof.

Chickens and Swimming Pools

There are several reasons that it is not a good idea to put chickens in a backyard swimming pool. 

  • Chickens will poop in your pool. Chicken feces often carries bacteria that is harmful to humans including salmonella.
  • The chemicals used in the pool may be harmful to the chicken. 
  • The chicken may not be able to exit the pool on their own when they are done swimming.
  • The chicken may become waterlogged while you are not watching and drown.

The bottom line is that putting a chicken into a human swimming pool is not good for chickens or humans. If you live in a very hot climate and have a chicken who likes to swim, then purchase a kiddie swimming pool that is shallow enough for the hen to easily step out of and use it only for hens. 

Can Chicks Swim?

Chicks will drown very quickly in water. They do not float like adult birds and their down feathers are not water resistant at all. Chicks should never be around any large containers of open water. They can often fly up, perch on the edge, and then fall into the water. The problem is they cannot get back out of the water. 

If you have a chick that gets wet and you are able to rescue it, you need to get it warm and dry quickly. Wrap it gently in a towel for a few minutes and then put it under a heat lamp. 

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