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Washing chickens-Update! 7/25, Showing day!

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by ThePolishPrincess, Jul 4, 2009.

  1. ThePolishPrincess

    ThePolishPrincess Chillin' With My Peeps

    Today I washed my first bird for practice, as I will be showing her late this month. I had the help of a friend and bathed my white bird, a Sultan who is very fragile.

    Halfway into the bath, she was shaking violenty. I though she was going into shock and was seriously about to cry. (Note: I followed a great set of directions I found online and read them before bathing.) I made the bath very short, doing all the steps though I'm use I left some soap in. [​IMG]

    My friend told me she was just being nervious but I took my pullet out anyway, toweled her, and blow-dried her whole body, as she still shook rapidly. I put her under a heat lamp an she kept contact with her brood-mate, a Polish. Eventually, I had to resort to putting the Polish in with her and she calmed down alot, shaking little and beginning to preen herself. It's been a few hours and I moved the Polish so my pullet wouldn't get poo on herself. I'm still shaking myself.

    The exhibition is not strictly APA and is mainly for 4H-ers like myself. My birds that I'm showing are only 11 weeks old, and will be nearly 3 months old when I have to bath them next. I'm so frightened, I highly doubt I'll be washing my girl again. I wasn't expecting this much trouble. But she does have both a habit of being nervous and sickly. The other two I'm planning to wash are much stronge birds but are the same age.

    Question: Is this normal behavior? Or is it age? Just her? I can try to put up a pic of her and her clean self tomorrow.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2009
  2. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    I'm wondering if the water was too hot or cold?

    Or if she felt scared?

    I usually prefer to give "showers," using the tub faucet without a plug. Wet, add shampoo and gently rub it in. More water, scrub a bit more and let them stand or ly as they choose while I wash the next bird. After several birds I turn on the shower to rinse the tub (it usually has a fair amount of poop by this time). With a more or less clean tub I start back at the beginning of the line, rinsing the birds one by one under the faucet and letting them stand in the tub to drip dry. After all are rinsed I roll them up in a towel one by one.
  3. ThePolishPrincess

    ThePolishPrincess Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks so much for responding, Sonoran.

    We started using some soap but I think my gradual soap additions on her body became a bit more hectick when I saw her shaking. She was starting to fall asleep in the water also, like I had heard she might, so I really didn't know what was going on. Sadly, chickens aren't allowed in the house so this would have to be done outside. It was a bit warmer than 70 outside today so that might have a bit to do with it. The water was hot at first but my friend and I added cold water until the temp was lukewarm. When she started to shake in the first tub, we added a bit less cold water in the second, and so on, thinking she was cold. It was pretty hot stuff, if you ask me, but not burning.

    I just checked on her now and I think-hope-she'll be fine. She was panting so I had to move the heat lamp up a bit more. I also just found some soapy spots and tried to rub them off with a washcloth and water. But it still won't do. This probably ruined the feathers but maybe if there is a next time with this one I'll just use water and disregard the other stuff. I hope she continues to trust me. I don't want to look like the big bad human that tried to put her into shock. She is still a pet and after this exhibition is done, will pleasantly be retired. [​IMG]
  4. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    Are you a kid? If so you might talk to your folks and promise to clean the tub and bathroom thoroughly when you are done. And make sure that you do.

    Explain that too cold water could easily shock your bird to death and that too hot water could scald it.
  5. chickenmum

    chickenmum Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 7, 2008
    On cold days I use the basement sinks. After I bathe my chickens I wrap them up in flannel sheets, not flannel sheets, towels or some other "animal" blanket. Maybe it was that it was her first time, she is young, and is a fragile chicken anyway, all combined. [​IMG]
  6. ThePolishPrincess

    ThePolishPrincess Chillin' With My Peeps

    Yeah, I'm a teen. My mom hates when I use the house for anything chicken related. She allows me to use the basement to house the birds on occasion, that's whre my girl and her Polish friend are right now, but we don't have a sink down there. I haven't tried it and know it won't work as well, but I can also get a cup and pour it over the bird when I bathe them. Today just cupped my hand and tried to wash her.

    I can't get into details, but my parents have been generously patient with me these days about helping me take care of some birds that are suffering from minor injuries and using the basement as some sort of forgein infermory. [​IMG] I'm trying not to push my luck however this is an argument that I could bring up. Tomorrow I'm going to clean up around the place and see if I can catch their attention. Their word is usually law but my mom every so often reminds me of how she tried to bathe her bird (not a chicken, a bird similar to that of a canary (sp?)) and killed it. I do care, though, and I will try my best to make it happen.
  7. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    [​IMG] The more responsible you show yourself to be the more priviledges you are likely to be given. Stepping in and doing some chores that aren't usually something you do will show your parents that you can be responsible and helpful.
  8. ThePolishPrincess

    ThePolishPrincess Chillin' With My Peeps

    Lol, no trouble-making in my house. The only things I really ever do to make my parents upset is make a mess. [​IMG] My mom just gets skeeved out when birds are in the house. I'm going to try and change her mind. But if I can't, I think next time with this one I will just give her a bath in straight water. On a warmer day. The only things I'd have to worry about on her are feathered feet and her crest. The other birds are hardier breeds.

    This morning, I came to check on my pullet and her friend and I found her roosting over the Polish's brooder. I usually put a board up on top of their brooder but I forgot last night. She isn't really fond of roosting, either. I guess she just missed her friend. [​IMG] I'm just so thankful that she is alive and well.
  9. Pathfinders

    Pathfinders Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 25, 2008
    Northern KY
    Hi Polish Princess,

    I think part of the reason your bird may have been scared is that she was so young. 11 week old birds are really a bit young to wash (and 3 month old birds are a bit young to show, for what it's worth.)

    I wrote a long article about bathing birds (we use large tubs), and prepping for shows, see it here to see if it might help you:


    And see my other articles here:


    Best of luck with it, and at your show!
  10. ThePolishPrincess

    ThePolishPrincess Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thank you very much. [​IMG] We know the birds are young, the 4-H leading mother is stressing me to bring my bird and get involved. Our adults just don't look as good as they used to. Also, this showing is apparently based primarily on our knowledge of our bird and it's breed. (Standards, care-taking, etc.) I do agree that they are very young and if time and location wasn't an issue, I would invest in SQ adult fowl. I wish it were that easy.

    I read some of those articles a few minutes ago and it cleared up alot for me. I like these directions on how to wash the birds more than the ones I used a few days ago. This was very helpful. Thanks again!

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