When you first begin keeping chickens, you start to wonder about a lot of questions you may have never asked. For instance, can chickens get wet? Are they OK in a rainstorm? Chickens do not have waterproof feathers, but they are resilient creatures. Most breeds of chicken are comfortable with getting a little wet.
Here is what you need to know about your chickens getting wet or caught out in the rain:
Do Chickens Like Getting Wet?
Just because chickens are called “fowl,” it does not mean that they are like their waterfowl cousins. Chickens like water, but they are not going to go for a swim any time soon. Most chickens are fine with a drizzle that lightly mists their feathers, but others are going to want to take cover, even with the rain is light. It truly depends on the chicken, as well as the weather. Heavy downpours and snow are two things most chickens cannot tolerate (and for good reason).
In short, a chicken will get wet, but they are not going to opt to stand in a sprinkler or join you in the lake.
Does It Hurt Chickens to Get Wet?
Although it is probably obvious to you, a chicken is not going to melt or spontaneously combust when it gets wet. As with most creatures, water is welcomed — not dangerous. Imagine how hard it would be for chickens to have survived on Earth this long if the rain could hurt them?
So, yes, chickens are OK in the rain. Getting wet is not going to cause any lasting damage. Some chickens may even enjoy a gentle sprinkle.
Chickens may not have waterproof feathers like other species of fowl, but the insulating properties and natural oils can protect them for a short time. However, chickens are pretty practical. They will remain outside for as long as it makes sense. Should the rain be too heavy or the ground too wet, they will seek out shelter.
Water is not the enemy. What is dangerous to chickens is the combination of cold and wet. When the temperature drops to 62 degrees F, it is a chilly day for a chicken. Some breeds are more tolerant to the cold, but only if it isn’t raining. Getting chilled on a rainy day could spell death for even the hardiest of breeds.
Furthermore, never let newborn chicks with down, sick chickens, and Silkies run around outside when it is raining. They do not have the protection for it!
Can Chicken Free Range in the Rain?
Yes, chickens can go wandering the yard when it is raining. Really, just let your chickens do as they would normally do. They will be fine, be the days sunny and bright or cool and damp.
Chickens may not be the smartest of creatures, but they do know how to self-regulate. If the weather is too much for them, they will not venture outside. Of course, if there are bugs to be had when the ground is damp, they may be tempted to sprint out, gobble their meal, and run back to wherever it is most dry.
Can Chickens Get Wet in the Summer?
On a hot summer day, the most refreshing thing is a dip in the pool — for humans, that is. Turns out, your chickens also enjoy a bit of a sprinkle when the temperature escalates. Some chicken owners will set up misters or sprinklers for their chickens to enjoy. Those same keepers, however, note that chickens will not lounge under the sprinkler like other birds. They tend to remain on the outskirts of the mister or sprinkle, enjoying the coolness but not the wetness.
Of course, hot and humid conditions are not safe for your birds. There are breeds more tolerant to such climates, but most would prefer warm, dry air to dampness.
Bacteria and Parasites
Water is pivotal to existence, which is probably why bacteria also loves it. In damp conditions, chickens face a condition called coccidiosis. This infection is severe, and it can be transmitted rapidly throughout your entire flock in the blink of an eye. Keep a look out for chickens that are pale, lethargic, weak, and dropping bloody or foamy yellow excrement. You will need a medicine called amprolium (Corid) to deal with coccidiosis.
Of course, that is not the only kind of infection that comes from damp conditions. Mites and lice spread like wildfire during the rainiest of months. It is because your chickens cannot bathe in dust. Plus, they huddle together for body heat.
Fungal Infections and Contamination
Did you know that there are several kinds of fungus that can sprout on your chickens? Fungus can also grow in the environment. Toxic spores can make your chickens terribly ill. Since chickens have weak respiratory systems that are susceptible to irritation, you do not want them or their environment to be damp for a long time. Mold, mildew, and fungus all tend to grow in places of high humidity or moisture.
If you notice any mold growth around the run or in the coop, decontaminate the area as soon as possible. Also, keep your chickens away from the fungus. You do not want them eating the mold or fungus and getting sick.
Should I Leave Puddles Around The Chicken Run?
After a torrential rainstorm, the yard and chicken run might be overrun with puddles. In and of themselves, puddles are safe for your flock. Most chickens will steer clear of the puddles, unless they are shallow. The only time puddles are an issue is when the entire area of the run is sodden or mucky.
Here are some problems that result in too many puddles:
- Your chickens will have no place to bathe in dust. Chickens need dust baths to stay keep and prevent lice and mites from doing their worst. If the ground is too wet, you can make a temporary dust bath by filling a 2-inch deep pan or litter tray with a little dirt and a sprinkle diatomaceous earth.
- The flock is going to have a field day in the mud. Once the chickens have romped through the puddles, they are going to track that mud into the coop and their bedding. Mud can be rather filthy, especially when it is where your chickens are going about their business.
- Puddles are enormous drinking holes. Unfortunately, puddles are not the safest sources of water and often contain all kinds of bacteria. Your chickens could end up sick from drinking out of a puddle.
While you cannot prevent rain or puddles entirely, you can create decent drainage around the run. You can plant water-loving plants to help soak up some of the rain, construct the run and coop on a slope, and also ensure there is enough air flow to help dry the ground.
What To Do If Chickens Are Wet
Usually, when your chickens get a little wet from a pop-up rainstorm, you do not have to do anything for them. There is no need to rush out with a towel. If the weather is decent, your chickens will air dry. On the other hand, if the day is cool or windy, you might want to speed up the drying process.
Grab a clean towel. Some chickens will like being patted dry with the towel, but some will need to be restrained, since it can be scary and uncomfortable. As long as you are gentle, toweling off the chicken will not do it any harm.
You can also use a hairdryer set to low temperature. Work from their crown to their vent to keep the feathers from becoming ruffled. Smooth down any feathers that may poke out. If your chicken starts lifting its wings when blow drying its feathers, that is a sign that your bird’s internal temperature is increasing. Let them move away from the hair dryer for a few minutes before restarting or finish the task with a towel.
Another option is a heatproof lamp. Put the lamp over a box lined with a towel and let the chicken sit in there for a little while.
You can also watch this great video on this topic:
Final Thoughts on Chickens Getting Wet
Hopefully, you are no longer wondering, “Can chickens get wet?” Chickens were once wild creatures, and so they are perfectly adapted to the world outside. Some breeds, such as Silkies, may have a more difficult time handling damp weather, but most breeds thrive regardless of the rain. However, you should not leave your chickens out in the rain for extended periods, as they could contract dangerous diseases. Be sure to give them someplace dry to hang out when it rains!
Valerie has been content writing since 2016 for websites and companies all around the world. A traveler, dancer, martial artist, Valerie loves gathering experiences and wisdom. Her travels have taken her to over 20 countries, and she hopes to see more of the world soon.