Can Chickens Get Wet? 5 Things to Consider
Yes, chickens can get wet. However, there are times when the wetness becomes too dangerous to your chickens’ health. So, your birds should not stay wet for too long, especially during the cold weather season. Keep in mind that your chickens’ feathers are not entirely weatherproof. But they are weather-resistant, meaning that they can help shed water to keep them dry and comfortable.
The question is, does it really hurt for your chickens to become wet? It is obvious that chickens cannot dissolve in water, particularly when they are rained on. Plus, they are likely to get wet even without any injuries coming to them. Water or wetness on your chicken is not as dangerous as some people would want you to believe.
As a matter of fact, different breeds of chickens are quite comfortable with getting wet. This is the reason you may have seen your flock of chickens gaily prancing around the garden or backyard when it starts to rain. For some chickens, the rain presents them with an opportunity to scratch and dig the ground to pull up worms.
Of course, they use this rare chance to feast on worms, grubs, and any insects that may come their way when it is raining.
Naturally, chickens have a thick layer of feathers. Even though these feathers are not waterproof on them, they provide maximum insulation against the cold. They also play a significant role in keeping away some of the moisture during the rainy season.
Chickens are among the cleverest animals on the farm. So, when it starts to rain heavily, you will see your flock of birds rushing off to shelter themselves in their coop or anywhere they will feel safe. Some will simply hide out under the plants or ledge until the rain reduces to a drizzle.
But it does not mean that your birds should be subjected to wetness and cold. In particular, cold is the number one enemy of chickens compared to water. For instance, when temperatures drop below 60 °F, it becomes extremely uncomfortable for your children to stay outside for too long. Below this temperature, no bird should be allowed to go outside the coop or play in the rain.
Young, sick, and silkies breed of chickens should not be left outside in the rain. With Silkies, their feathers cannot keep off water from reaching the skin, so staying in the rain can be risky.
Can Chickens Get Wet in Summer?
Yes, your chickens can tolerate rain better in warm summer weather conditions than in the winter season. This is why you may see your birds staying outside for some time while it is raining.
Even though you may not wish to have wet chickens in your backyard, rest assured that rain conditions on hot summers are less concerning for most poultry farmers. Apart from that, specific breeds of chickens play a role in determining which birds survive best in wet conditions and which ones cannot withstand rainy conditions, especially in summer.
In this regard, you should be able to identify chicken breeds that are naturally hardy and tolerant to cold or wet summer conditions.
Can Chickens Get Sick if They Get Wet?
As stated above, chickens should not be subjected to extremely cold temperatures, especially when it is raining. Well, it is never a guarantee that chickens can get sick if left to stay wet in the cold. However, chickens subjected to these conditions are more likely to pick up some particular diseases.
Wet conditions in winter can make your birds get contaminated by fungal. Even though fungal diseases are not that common among chickens, several types of fungi can grow on your birds. These fungi are likely to release toxic spores. When inhaled, these toxic spores can possibly cause serious health problems for your flock of chickens.
Chickens are among farm animals with a delicate respiratory system. Anything that irritates your chickens’ respiratory system can negatively impact their general well-being. In this case, mold spores from toxic fungi can cause serious health problems to your birds.
Should you notice some mold growing near or around your chicken coop, make sure to get rid of it as soon as possible. Use the appropriate type of fungicide to eliminate mold. The early you do it the better for you and your entire flock of chickens.
Can Chickens Stay Out in the Rain?
Yes! A little water is not harmful to them that’s why chickens have survived in the wild for thousands of years. The fact that these birds have thrived even in wet conditions does not imply that you should let them spend many hours in wet conditions or the rain, especially during the winter period.
This is attributed to the fact that chickens are not as perfect in thermoregulation as human beings in extreme cold weather conditions or a wet environment.
What Happens if Chickens Get Wet in Winter?
Keeping your chickens wet in wintery conditions can subject them to parasitic and bacterial infections. Bacteria thrive best in wet conditions or a drop of water. So, during the wet rainy seasons in winter, there is a possibility of bacteria multiplying since there is plenty of water around.
Parasitic infections among your flock can lead to a common condition known as coccidia. From the name, coccidia causes coccidiosis, which is a deadly health condition for chickens. Coccidiosis can easily spread and infect your entire flock of chickens in a short time. To stop the spread, make sure to treat coccidiosis as soon as you detect the first case.
Can Baby Chickens Get Wet?
Although adult chickens have more feathers that provide good insulation by acting as perfect water repellant to light rains, small chickens and baby chicks should not be allowed to get wet in the rain or during storms. This is due to the fact that their feathers are not well-developed to withstand wet conditions in heavy rains and storms.
Usually, the storms are accompanied by strong winds which can potentially cause wind chill among young chickens. The wind chill causes temperatures to drop outside and this can be detrimental to your little birds.
Besides, wetness is likely to cause heat loss from your chicks’ bodies despite having feathers. Plus, smaller bodies are prone to a higher heat loss rate than larger ones. Wind, however, can quickly suck heat away, making your baby chickens helpless in wet and cold rainy weather conditions.
With that being said, make sure to provide adequate protection against hypothermia to your little chicks
How to Dry a Wet Chicken?
Sometimes your chickens can get really wet to the point of not being able to move around normally. If you find out that one of your chickens is wet, you can give it some time to dry out on its own. In fact, this is exactly how chickens dry out in their natural habitat in the wild.
If it is particularly cold but your chicken is very wet, you may give them some help to ensure that they dry fast. Get a clean and dry towel then gently pat dry the wet chicken. If need be, restrain the chicken if you think it will find this whole process to be uncomfortable. Remember not to be rough with it. Just be firm as you pat dry your wet bird.
If you can access a hairdryer, you can make the whole process easy and quick. In this case, make sure to switch on both the minimum power and minimum heat before giving your bird some little blow-dry to take away the moisture from its wet feathers.
Start blowing it from the head working your way towards the vent as you follow the order of its feathers. Anything contrary to that may make your chicken a little distressed.
If the two mentioned above processes fail, look for a chicken-proof heat lamp then place it in the box with your wet chicken. Give your chicken some time to soak up some warmth. If your chicken has been trained to sit still close to the open fire, then you can use this method to make it dry.
How to Keep Your Chickens Dry?
To keep your chickens dry in wet weather conditions, you need to do the following:
- Open the coop to let your birds out immediately after a heavy downpour. At least, you will have some time and space to clean the coop
- Provide proper ventilation in your chicken coop. Ventilation is known to provide a drying effect that prevents molds and parasites from growing in or around the coop
- Remove all soiled chicken bedding and discard it to control mold and parasites in wet weather conditions
- Provide a dry area for your chicken’s dry bath
- Clean the coop frequently and thoroughly
- Inspect all chickens for signs of infestation and diseases regularly
Chickens can get wet if they come across a source of water or moisture. If your birds become wet, they may not get dry so easily. As temperatures drop, staying wet for too long can make them unwell. For that reason, ensure that your birds stay dry across all seasons, particularly in the winter months to keep them healthy, active, and productive.