Can Chickens Swim? 10 Interesting Facts

Regardless of the fact that chickens are not excellent swimmers, they can float and swim without much difficulty. In truth, chickens paddle pretty well even without webbed feet like ducks. Unfortunately, they make less powerful strokes with slow forward momentum.

That explains why probably chickens do not have an innate ability to swim. Most likely, they only do it as a survival mechanism if they fall accidentally in the water.

It is worth pointing out that birds with calm temperaments may perform much better in water than those that panic quickly. In short, if your chicken stays composed in water, they may do just fine compared to their counterparts who freak in fear.

Why are Chickens Bad Swimmers?

Chickens are naturally not well-equipped for swimming like their waterfowl cousins. After all, their feathers do not repel water very well, making them vulnerable to drowning. This happens because chicken feathers lack proper insulation in water. After a couple of minutes in water, the bird may submerge or soak up in the water.

Even if they survive the ordeal, your birds are more likely to contract hypothermia. Mainly, hypothermia happens after long exposures to cold temperatures. The body loses heat much faster than the amount generated in the process. Eventually, the victim uses all stored energy leading to an extreme decline in body temperature and death.

As mentioned above, a deficiency of webbed feet in chickens comes at a disadvantage. Basically, webbed feet help the bird propel better through the water with minimal drowning chances.

How Long Can a Chicken Swim?

A healthy chicken would only float for approximately 10-15 minutes before sinking. Of course, the time depends on how strong the bird thrashes and struggles to get out. Also, a less panicky chicken can stay slightly waterlogged for additional few minutes.

If need be, never allow your chickens to stay in the water unsupervised. Moreover, cover water ponds in the yard likely to drown adults and baby chicks.

Can Chickens Float?

Even with buoyant bodies, the lack of insulating properties in chicken feathers reduces their floating capabilities significantly. You see, waterfowls have a preen gland at their tail that regularly produces oil. Every time the birds come into contact with water, they polish their feathers during and after a swim.

The preening process arouses the oil glands, which distribute oil on the plumage and improve waterproof capability. Luckily, the buoyancy effect gives keepers ample time to rescue their chickens if they unintentionally fall in the water.

Do Chickens Float Like Ducks?

You should not expect chickens to float perfectly like ducks without preen glands, webbed feet, and inadequate insulation on their feathers. Even so, allowing your flock to soak in water during scorching months sounds like a considerate idea.

However, be wary of their mediocre floating capabilities beyond anything else. It is pretty unfortunate for birds to lose their lives in the process of beating the summer heat. Instead, there are several alternatives you can use to help your birds remain calm in the heat.

For instance, allow quick access to adequate freshwater around the coop. Ice pops, cold probiotic smoothies, or frozen fruit bowls work magic on your hot chickens.

Additionally, install automated sprinklers that routinely shower the birds with little cold water. What’s more, erect ample shade spots all around the yard. This comes in handy for scavenging chickens that spend most of their time in the sun. Do not forget to ventilate your coops properly. The best option is placing sliding covers or adjustable flaps around the walls.

A well-aerated enclosure should always keep the air breeze off and allow carbon dioxide and ammonia fumes to seep away. Unknown to most people, excess ammonia smell in a coop is a healthy and common cause of respiratory issues and Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eye and cornea) in chickens.

Furthermore, the putrid smell discourages fowls from eating well. In the long run, it may affect their growth rate and the production of meat and eggs.

Can Silkie Chickens Swim?

It is nearly impossible for fluffy feathered chickens like Silkie to swim well in water. When exposed to water, Silkies feathers fail to stick together, making them waterproof. It is no surprise that these birds only stay waterlogged for a couple of seconds before sinking.

Remember that excess feathers on Silkies increase hypothermia risks. Thus, it is prudent to keep them dry immediately after their feathers become wet.

Can Chickens Have a Swimming Pool?

Putting chickens in swimming pools meant for humans can be detrimental to their health. Besides, individuals use plenty of chemicals like oxidizers, sanitizers, clarifiers, and algaecides to clean the pools. It is still not certain how these chemicals can impact poultry’s life.

If you really have to put chickens in water, consider a kiddie swimming pool with natural water and no chemicals. Farmers with chickens and ducks can use a paddling collection specially made for the latter. Either way, construct some stepping area if your birds intend to leave the pool at any appointed time.

Note that cinder blocks or bricks around the pool are an ideal precaution measure. Ultimately, if the bird seems troubled, take it out of the water and dry it off right away.

Take into account that chickens can develop a cold and fail to display any symptoms until the issue escalates. Therefore, please do not allow them to soak for long durations, even during summer.

Can Chickens Get Into Water?

Rarely would chickens get into water even when they have regular access to it. More often, you may find them seeking shelter under pens and bushes during a heavy downpour. Nonetheless, you can observe some birds pecking around in light showers.

By now, you understand that this is mainly because chicken feathers are not waterproof enough. A chicken keeping away from water is more of a survival instinct against severe coldness or hypothermia. There are rare exceptions where chickens prefer soaking in water over other options.

Some birds may opt for cold water sips, while others settle for freezing fruits treats or automatic sprinklers. Ensure that your flock is safe and does not overindulge whatever the choice.

Can Chickens Drown in Deep Water?

There is a high probability of chickens drowning once they immerse in water. Obviously, allowing your birds in the deep end has more perils than shallow parts of a pool. Nonetheless, monitor the time your birds spend in the water, whether in the deep or shallow end. If possible, never allow your chickens in swimming pools deep ends because of chlorine levels as well.

What to do If Your Chicken Gets Wet?

You may have to dry your chickens right away; they become wet because of health implications associated with it. Safe options include blow or towel drying the wet feathers right away. Although most experts disregard this technique, you can also light a fire in the coop.

The main reason behind this warning is that chickens rarely stay still near fire unless adequately trained to do so. If you want to dry a wet chicken real fast, get the coop warm by installing heat lamps or heat pads.

Moreover, place a hot water bottle in the coop and fix regular bulbs of about 60 watts. In conjunction, place warm beddings like pine shavings on the floor. You can quickly tell if your chicken is still wet by simply observing how they behave. If the bird appears sluggish with pale comb and wattles, that’s a significant warning sign of hypothermia.

Still, if they have ruffled feathers or perch off the ground with a leg tucked up, that’s an indication that they are too cold and require urgent intervention.


Whether to allow chickens to swim in water remains a controversial topic amongst farmers. Yet, you do not have to keep your birds in pools to cool them down. Thankfully, this article sensitizes healthy options to consider. The bottom line is to keep your bird safe and protected at all times.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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