Winter Rains and Wet Chickens

May 16, 2020
39
83
67
Tis winter in the valleys of Oregon's mountains, and in has come the rain.
For the last day and a half, it's been raining hard. Pouring, if you will. The streets of my poor neighborhood are so flooded we cannot walk across the street to get our mail without knee-high rain boots.
The yard is comparatively dry, if slipping in mud with every step is your definition of dry.
The deep litter bedding in our coop has worked wonders- keeping the mud to a minimum and letting the rain flow away from the coop.
However! We have made a mistake.
No one shut the door to the run of the chicken coop last night.
While the birds have established their dominance and have scared off the neighborhood cats, and leaving the coop open on accident is no major threat in our safe and guarded yard...
They have not yet learned what battles can be picked with nature.
What I mean to say is that we left the run of the coop open and 4 of our birds went out in the run and got soaked.
In fact, all 4 of the novogen browns went out in the run.
Our australorp, Valentina, was the only one smart enough to not go out in the rain.
Literally, only her, she's the only dry one.

And so I have 4 wet chickens.
The run has been closed and they are being kept in their coop- which has a roof and is reasonably dry on the inside.
The chickens, fortunately, were not soaked to the bone. Two of them only had wet backs, suggesting that they'd only been pecking around in the rain for an hour or so.
But the other two had wet tummies and bottoms. While upon inspection it was only the outer layer of feathers that were wet, and the water didn't get to their skin, they were much more wet and had clearly been out the longest.
Needless to say- while my chickens might be able to stand up against intruding cats, they are little match for the rain.

So basically what I'm asking is...what do I do with wet chickens? Will they be able to dry off on their own, or am I gonna have to wrestle four chickens into the garage to dry them off with towels?
Because I really don't want to wrestle four chickens into the garage to dry them off with towels.
But I also know that it's not wise to bring them inside during bad weather because it can make it harder for them to return to a colder coop, so I don't think it's wise to let them come into the garage until they're dry. Their coop is dry and well ventilated, they don't need the garage.

So yeah, am I gonna have to dry my novogens off with a towel? Or will they floof up their feathers and dry up on their own?
I will make sure that their run remains closed until the worst of the rains pass, which is when we plan to lay down a fresh layer to the litter (no point in doing it during major rains, obviously, and it's worked very well so far.)
 

3KillerBs

Enabler
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
10,583
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North Carolina Sandhills
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While upon inspection it was only the outer layer of feathers that were wet, and the water didn't get to their skin, they were much more wet and had clearly been out the longest.

This is perfectly normal chicken behavior.

As long as they have free access to a dry place where they could go if they wanted to and as long as they are fully-feathered adults birds with normal feathers (silkies and frizzles may be more fragile), it's perfectly safe to allow them to decide how wet they want to be.

It was <40F and raining hard at my place this morning. The ladies were mostly hanging out under their shelter, but they did venture out into the rain from time to time. They like to dig in wet pine straw -- after some kind of bug, I'd guess.

Your birds and mine will both be fine. :)
 

CanadaEh

Songster
May 31, 2018
370
647
186
Canada
we never lock up chickens in the coop due to weather. Depending on the temperature and wind conditions on a rainy day they would either ignore the water coming down on them or they would run and hide under roof at first drops. They have ability to dry and fluff up well before the cold sets in and they may look skinnier/wetter than they actually are under all those feathers. In short we assume they know better if they warm or cold.
 

halefamily_flock

Songster
Sep 16, 2020
329
827
176
Southeast Misssouri
Agree with all the others. My chickens free range and LOVE the rain. I always let them decide whether to come out, regardless of weather. They are more likely to stay in the coop on a beautiful day, if they see any sign of a hawk, than they are to stay in when it's raining. They also don't particularly like snow, but I've found if I put straw on top of the snow, just outside their chicken door, they will come out in snow, too.
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
17,850
35,750
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WA, Pac NW
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I would never close off run access because of rain or snow. Flooding is a different matter... was the run itself flooded, or were there still plenty of patches the chickens could use that weren't sitting in water? I did have to lock my chickens in for 2-3 days last year, but we were legitimately flooded with moving creek waters shooting through the run, up to 4" in depth. As soon as the flooding stopped and the run began draining, I let them back out.

Most of mine hate the rain and will take shelter from it, but even if they get soaked, as long as they're dry at the skin level, they can stay warm and will dry off on their own without issue.

I'd only be concerned if they were so waterlogged that they were wet and cold down to skin level, but that wasn't the case here.
 

chickieandchookie

In the Brooder
Nov 23, 2020
21
26
26
Clunes Victoria
Tis winter in the valleys of Oregon's mountains, and in has come the rain.
For the last day and a half, it's been raining hard. Pouring, if you will. The streets of my poor neighborhood are so flooded we cannot walk across the street to get our mail without knee-high rain boots.
The yard is comparatively dry, if slipping in mud with every step is your definition of dry.
The deep litter bedding in our coop has worked wonders- keeping the mud to a minimum and letting the rain flow away from the coop.
However! We have made a mistake.
No one shut the door to the run of the chicken coop last night.
While the birds have established their dominance and have scared off the neighborhood cats, and leaving the coop open on accident is no major threat in our safe and guarded yard...
They have not yet learned what battles can be picked with nature.
What I mean to say is that we left the run of the coop open and 4 of our birds went out in the run and got soaked.
In fact, all 4 of the novogen browns went out in the run.
Our australorp, Valentina, was the only one smart enough to not go out in the rain.
Literally, only her, she's the only dry one.

And so I have 4 wet chickens.
The run has been closed and they are being kept in their coop- which has a roof and is reasonably dry on the inside.
The chickens, fortunately, were not soaked to the bone. Two of them only had wet backs, suggesting that they'd only been pecking around in the rain for an hour or so.
But the other two had wet tummies and bottoms. While upon inspection it was only the outer layer of feathers that were wet, and the water didn't get to their skin, they were much more wet and had clearly been out the longest.
Needless to say- while my chickens might be able to stand up against intruding cats, they are little match for the rain.

So basically what I'm asking is...what do I do with wet chickens? Will they be able to dry off on their own, or am I gonna have to wrestle four chickens into the garage to dry them off with towels?
Because I really don't want to wrestle four chickens into the garage to dry them off with towels.
But I also know that it's not wise to bring them inside during bad weather because it can make it harder for them to return to a colder coop, so I don't think it's wise to let them come into the garage until they're dry. Their coop is dry and well ventilated, they don't need the garage.

So yeah, am I gonna have to dry my novogens off with a towel? Or will they floof up their feathers and dry up on their own?
I will make sure that their run remains closed until the worst of the rains pass, which is when we plan to lay down a fresh layer to the litter (no point in doing it during major rains, obviously, and it's worked very well so far.)
 

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