Bathing your chickens? How?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mrsbos, Nov 24, 2010.

  1. mrsbos

    mrsbos Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 11, 2010
    Greenacres, WA
    Some people give their chickens nice warm baths. How exactly is that done? Do they protest? In my mind, all I can imagine is a squawking chicken flapping her wings in my face like crazy, and trying to get away. Is it a difficult task? I don't imagine I'd need to do it often, but with all the cold weather and snow, my chickens haven't been out in the fresh air (and deep snow) much, and really aren't their sweet smelling selves.

    And I hear that a blow-drying is in order after the bath.....they really stand for that too? Being accosted with a loud blow dryer? Perhaps I could clip some little pink bows for their feather too? (I'd do it too)

    Chicken bathing veterans....give me your insight!
  2. jaj121159

    jaj121159 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 27, 2010
    Northeast Nebraska
    After you finish bathing your chickens are the goats next? You gotta be kidding me, bathing chickens? Really? They're animal critters. I only give my dogs a bath after they have been sprayed by a skunk of get the mud bad. The dogs don't stink, live indoors and take care of hygiene themselves.
  3. Yay Chicks!

    Yay Chicks! Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2010
    Forest Grove, OR
    I wouldn't give a chicken a bath just because it was cold out. I did give one a bath when I thought she was eggbound (she wasn't). And she seemed to enjoy the hairdryer, which I found surprising.
  4. aubreynoramarie

    aubreynoramarie designated lawn flamingo

    May 27, 2010
    Reno, Nevada
    ive seen people bathe their chickens because theyve been pooped in. i have a girl who gets pooped on sometimes, but the poop is gone by the end of the day. she cleans herself
  5. naturegrrl

    naturegrrl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 15, 2008
    Santa Cruz, CA
    I occasionally wash my chooks, when they've gotten particularly muddy, or before the annual vet visit. I have a detachable showerhead , so I just put on shorts or a bathing suit, and get right in there with my chosen victim. I just let them stand on the floor of the shower, and I use the gentlest spray setting on the showerhead and wash the girls with the showerhead close to their body, gently pushing the water over the feathers. Caveat - my girls are very docile, and I handle them frequently, so they pretty much just stand there and glare at me while I wash them, but they don't flap or squawk. When I'm done I use a blowdryer on the low setting, keeping my had partially in front of the airflow, to make sure the air isn't too hot (if it burns my hand, it will burn their skin, which is exposed when the feathers are wet). A few tips:
    1. Keep the washroom pretty warm (~80 if you can); chooks get hot easily when their feathers are functioning properly, but when wet, they can't thermoregulate as well as mammals can, and can get very cold very easily.
    2. Set yourself up so that you have a comfortable place to sit and hold your chooks while blowdrying - it takes me quite a while to get them dry enough, and it's hard to handle irritated chickens calmly when my legs are asleep and my lower back is cramped up. [​IMG]
    3. Use a washcloth to wipe of their faces rather than spraying water on their heads - that would be kind of like waterboarding them.
    4. Probably best not to use soap, as that would remove all of the natural oil from their feathers, taking away their ability to repel water and reducing their ability to thermoregulate (the oils from the preen gland help the feathers "zip" together properly, which allows the contour feathers to trap heat under them more effectively), as well as (I'm guessing here) causing the feathers to break down more quickly.
    4. It's probably best to do this as infrequently as possible; instead, if you can, perhaps provide a bin with clean play sand and DE where they can dustbathe in their run? Or perhaps just running a damp warm washcloth over the top layer of their feathers would take care of the worst of the funk? I often do spot-cleaning on my girls.
    5. I bet the folks who do a lot of showing will have more (and better) chicken bathing advice, since I think they are more likely to do it regularly...
    Have fun! [​IMG]
  6. ChickieBooBoo

    ChickieBooBoo Cold Canadian Chick

    Dec 2, 2009
  7. dreamcatcherarabians

    dreamcatcherarabians Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2010
    I had one of my Polish hens get pecked, so after separating her for a while and letting her heal some, I washed the dried blood out of her head feathers with warm water and Dawn dish soap. She wasn't thrilled at first but then she got used to it and fell asleep while I was rinsing her head, which reallllly surprised me. I wrapped her in a nice fluffy towel to dry the bits of her wings and neck that got wet and then wrapped her in a nice fleecy blanket and sat on the couch and snuggled her til she dried on her own. She fell asleep and loved the snuggles. USED to be my flightiest hen, now likes attention. Acts like she enjoys being picked up and stuck inside my jacket for a cuddle. [​IMG] I might have to wash all of them come spring/summer since it seems they actually enjoy all the bathing and drying and attention. Go figure!
  8. dreamcatcherarabians

    dreamcatcherarabians Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2010
    Quote:If I had a goat I'd bath it...I bath my horses, and my dogs and cats when they need it, why not a chicken? [​IMG]
  9. mandelyn

    mandelyn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 30, 2009
    Goshen, OH
    I have a pullet with some kind of deformity, she doesn't have a tail bump to grow a pretty tail, she looks rumpless and the tail feathers shoot out right by her slightly misplaced vent. So, after having her for 3 months now, I've realized I'm going to have to bathe her when ever the poo builds up. I had a plan to trim the feathers that were in the way. But, they're much too thick being tail feathers, and they'll bleed if I trim them down.

    Under normal circumstances, you should never need to bathe a chicken. They're pretty low maintenance. But, here's when you might have to...

    - Medical reasons, treating for mites/lice, some give a Dawn bath. Partial bath on the feet, prior to Scaly Leg treatment. Toothbrush helps for that, sideways to the scales.

    - Rescue birds that came from confinement, with poo crusted all over them. There are times when the living conditions make it impossible for the bird to keep itself clean.

    - Something got on the bird... dog drool, water soluble paint, whatever it is that won't be easy (or safe) for them to preen off.

    - Show birds, like any show animal, need to look as perfect as possible.

    Some rules/tips about bathing...

    - Don't use cool water, or overly hot. It shouldn't chill your hand or make it feel too warm. Think body temperature. Sprayers are the coolest thing, so I use the kitchen sink for that tool. I bleach the whole sink area after wards, I've seen what they walk in!

    - It's much easier for two people. One to hold the bird to keep the wings together should the bird panic initially. Every bird I have ever bathed enjoyed it after the first couple minutes. Even "wild" not tame birds.

    - Always use a soap that is safe. Nothing for dogs and cats, nothing that is medicated for fleas, it can/will kill them. I use an organic soap with natural ingredients. Dawn dish liquid for mites. (then they get dusted after they are dry, Dawn by itself is not a treatment, it simply helps work the eggs of the feathers)

    - Blow drying will feel totally fruitless for the first hour. Really, it takes HOURS to blow dry a bird. Even a bantam. I towel dry with 2 towels to get what I can, then place them in a cage somewhere warm/dry. This last time, I just put the cage into the brooder since I had the room. An hour later, I removed her and commenced blow drying. She was back in the coop before dark. A wood stove (several feet away) can be used, or a heater so long as it isn't too hot or blowing directly on them. Don't want to chill them, or overheat them.

    - If the bird does panic, pause and hold it firmly. Begin again after the panic is over. Repeat as needed, and they'll chill out quickly.

    - Even on a 75 degree day, don't put the bird outside. In an airconditioned home, that will be too cold too. Add heat when the bird is wet/damp. Better safe than sorry. Feel the bird over really well, the outer feathers dry first and will give the appearance that the bird is dry. The problems can come when the fluff up close to the body is still damp, specially under the wings. It cools them, fine on a 100 degree day, not good when it's 40.

    Some chickens act like whole new birds after a bath. The rumpless pullet talked her head off, beat up her sister, and acted like she just felt great. And she hates people, but has chilled out since bath day.

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