How to bathe a chicken?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by israelmeesterkat, Feb 1, 2010.

  1. israelmeesterkat

    israelmeesterkat New Egg

    Jan 29, 2010
    I know this isn't an emergency, but I was not sure where else to post this question. My Polish hen has been pooped on. Her fluffy crown of feathers on her head are now brown, flat, and icky. How can I clean her up???
  2. hen-thusiast

    hen-thusiast Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2009
  3. 4-H chicken mom

    4-H chicken mom Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 3, 2007
    Oberlin, OH
    We use a large round plastic tub. Fill it with enough warm soapy water to cover the belly of the bird. Bath just like you would a dog. If there is a lot of poo on the feathers, after soaking in the warm water awhile it will easily come off. We use the hose to rinse. Towel dry, then get out the hair dryer. just don't get it to close to the bird. My birds have always calmed down once they are in the warm water. The hair dryer puts them to sleep. The reason for the large plastic tub is because if they do flap their wings, they don't hit the sides of anything and break their wings. Every year at the fair, I see kids giving their meat birds a bath in these small containers only to have their chickens break their wings when they start flapping.
    Hope this helps. [​IMG]
    1 person likes this.
  4. israelmeesterkat

    israelmeesterkat New Egg

    Jan 29, 2010
    Ok, I think I can give her a bath. The biggest problem will be getting her head feathers clean. Any tips??


    4-H mom, how do your Weimaraners get along with your chickens?? I have been wanting a Weim, but am afraid they will go after the chickens!
  5. Chick-a-roos

    Chick-a-roos Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 3, 2009
    Blue Ridge, GA
    I wet the feathers with water, then apply baby shampoo....trying to massage into the feathers. But, I found a small soft bristle brush works really good. (almost like a baby brush). I haven't tried but was wondering if those bath wipes for dogs/cats would work...just for small issues. Good luck!
  6. purpletree23

    purpletree23 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 15, 2009
    Gently wrap her in an old clean towel and have someone hold her on her side with her head over the lip off the sink. Being wrapped up and on her side she should be fine and this way you don't have to wash her whole body. Gently wet, shampoo and rinse well and blot dry.

    Curlers or an up do are optional. Make sure you get a good tip![​IMG]
    1 person likes this.
  7. Dust Bunny

    Dust Bunny Chillin' With My Peeps

    i have not tried this but ive read to get the topnotch clean have warm soapy water in 1 bucket and rinse water in another bucket and holding your bird by the feet until flaping stops, dunk in soapy water and scrub clean then rinse in the clean water, i know this sounds really rude but so is a poopy head [​IMG]
  8. HennyJenny

    HennyJenny Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 26, 2009
    Bennington, NE
    Blow dryer - wet chickens love them. I do warm water in the bathroom sink and then a blow dry - it's a two person job - one holds - one blow dries. (I don't do this on a regular basis but I have done it for two injured birds and one stinky rescue bird in the last 6 months) Be careful you don't hold the dryer too close and you need to fluff the feathers with your fingers as you go. If their downy feathers get wet this takes awhile. I still don't put them outside until the next day. If they are at all damp - they can't stay warm enough. Good luck!
    eclecktic1 likes this.
  9. write2caroline

    write2caroline Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 21, 2009
    I had to give one of my GLW a bath - she is the least happy about being held but I filled the deep sink with warm water and she loved it and sat still and calm, I rinsed her under the warm tap - she enjoyed the blow dryer too. Lucky it was a warm day so I sent her out with the flock and she was fine!
  10. JestersEye

    JestersEye Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 12, 2008
    Mullica Twp., NJ
    I've bathed all 7 of our adult chickens a few times, for various 4-H shows and events. They all got used to it after the initial panic when they were first put into the tub. I use 3 large rubbermaid plastic tubs: one with water, liquid ivory soap, and 20-mule Borax for washing; the next is the first rinse containing plain water and a capful of Clorox bleach (for parasite control); and the last is a final rinse with water, vinegar, a small amount of Glycerin, and a few squirts of Mrs. Stewart's Liquid Bluing, which helps to brighten up the coloring on light colored birds and adds a nice shine to the feathers. The birds will look their best a few days after bathing, once their natural oils have been worked back into the feathers.

    I usually pour water over the bird's head quickly during each stage and they are okay with it. Just do it quickly enough that the bird doesn't attempt to breath at the same time, so they don't inadvertantly suck in water instead of air. I haven't had a problem doing this, and none of my birds has ever gotten sick afterwards. For extreme dirt issues, I would use my fingers or a wash cloth to scrub lightly in the direction of the feathers and then repeat the process. I've often had to scrub away poo buildup under the vent, which is easy to do while the bird is immersed in the warm wash tub. As someone pointed out, a soft nail or vegetable brush is a great tool for scrubbing the scales and claws clean.

    The hardest part with this "assembly line" method is keeping the water warm enough for the birds at the end. The warm water tends to help them relax, as it's obviously more comfortable than bathing in cold water. The birds also tend to relax easier if they are well-supported by a hand under them, to make them feel safe. They should not be allowed to stand, however, or they will attempt to fly out... leading to much flapping and a water-sogged mess! Once they succumb to the inevitable, they often doze off so watch that the head doesn't fall forward into the water, to prevent accidental drowning.

    If you only have one or a few birds to wash, a sink will work for each stage... changing the water and additives as needed with the advantage that the water will always be clean when you start. It's important to keep the birds warm and out of any drafts while they dry. Blow-drying is the best option, but you should still keep them indoors if possible, until they completely fluff out and dry underneath. (I usually keep mine in the house overnight after bath day.) I also find it easiest to trim nails and/or beaks after bathing, since they are softer then, as well as cleaner; making it easier to see the blood line/quick. The birds also tend to be more relaxed and compliant. I often complete this step while the birds are still wrapped in a towel, in fact.

    Always keep some Blood Stop powder on hand, though, because it's super easy to misjudge and birds bleed A LOT when you hit the quick! I tend to wash my largest rooster first, because I ALWAYS nick a quick on the first one I trim, no matter how careful I try to be... I figure he's the strongest so he can stand to lose a little blood, rather than a smaller or weaker bird. He's come through fine each time, I might add. Btw, I adopted my particular method after reading a number of online articles and then combining the parts I liked best about each, including the link posted above.
    2 people like this.

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