If you are a chicken keeper, you may wonder if wet weather is any danger to them and may have asked yourself, “Can chickens drown in the rain?”
Fortunately, chickens cannot drown in the rain by simply standing out in it. Even if it’s a heavy downpour, they will not drown from the rain.
Even though the chickens will not drown, they may be at risk of catching a chill or developing hypothermia. (1)
In this article, I share things to keep in mind for your flock when it rains as well as crucial recommendations to keep your chickens safe around water.
- Chickens cannot drown in the rain.
- Rainy weather may be dangerous to chickens due to the possibility of lowered body temperature causing illness.
- Be sure chickens have ready access to their chicken coop so they can escape wet weather.
Can Rain Be Harmful to Chickens?
The harmful nature of rain for chickens depends on how hard it’s raining. A drizzle or light rain will not hurt chickens. Chicken feathers are semi-waterproof and able to repel water.
However, if an adult chicken develops a chill from heavy rains penetrating their wet feathers, it may develop an illness.
If there’s no warm shelter for them to take cover, the dampness may lower their body temperature and lead to hypothermia. This is a serious condition especially if it’s cold outside.
Fortunately, chickens, by instinct, will start to run for cover as the rain becomes too heavy.
If their chicken coop isn’t available for them to seek shelter, they may go under a tree or large bushes, and sometimes may even run into your house!
Watch this video about “Chickens in the Rain – Five Minute Chicken Tips”:
Chickens Enjoy The Rain
When it starts to rain, chickens usually enjoy it. The rain brings out insects and worms, making an easy snack for them.
Earthworms are a favorite of chickens, and they are healthy for them, too. Earthworms are packed with the nutrition that chickens require. (2)
During a storm, you may notice that your chickens become active and instinctively sweep their beaks back and forth on the ground to look for earthworms and insects.
Get Wet Chickens Warmed-Up and Dried-Off
Chickens that are wet are usually fine. However, if they become too wet, you’ll need to ensure they make it to a warm place, like their coop, to dry off.
If they are wet for too long, they can get hypothermia, especially during the winter months.
Some of the signs of hypothermia include lethargy, staring blindly, becoming stiff, and puffing out their feathers.
Chicken owners with extremely wet chickens should dry them right away with a towel. Gently massage the towel along their entire body to dry them.
After that, place the chicken into their coop. Make sure that the bedding is not wet so it doesn’t take long for them to dry completely.
Can Chickens Drown In Water?
Chickens can drown in bodies of water. Water like puddles, ponds, and even their drinking water can pose a risk for them.
The reason for this is that chickens are not waterfowl. Their body features aren’t designed to be in the water or for swimming.
Their feathers may repel water, but they are not completely waterproof. Their feet are not webbed like those of ducks.
They are able to stay afloat in water because they are lightweight, but it’s difficult for them to maneuver around in the water.
If chickens need to cross a small stream or puddle, they will push their feet against the ground and thrust themselves forward.
They will have a hard time crossing streams and puddles that are deep. This could cause problems if they start to panic and accidentally drown themselves.
Chickens that are in the water for too long, especially cold water, could get hypothermia.
If you have deep water nearby, make sure they can climb out of it if they fall in. You can put rocks, branches, and logs near the edges so they can climb onto them to get out.
Make sure their drinking water is not too deep so they cannot get stuck in it. Many chicken waterers are designed for this.
Baby chickens especially are prone to climbing into troughs and water dishes to drink. If the water is too deep, they may drown in it.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I protect my chicken coop from rain?
Your chicken coop should have a roof and be well-drained in order to keep it dry in the rain. It should also be positioned for good sunlight so it can dry out if areas get wet.
2. How long can a chicken swim in water?
Because their feathers and feet are not designed for swimming, a chicken should not “swim” in deep bodies of water for more than 10-15 minutes.
For chicken keepers wondering, “Can chickens drown in the rain?” the answer is no.
Rain is only typically dangerous for chickens if the weather is cold or if their feathers get too saturated.
In this case, be sure to towel dry your chickens before returning them to a dry, warm coop.
Keep in mind, however, that chickens are not designed to swim. A chicken can drown if they get trapped in a body of water such as a stream, pond, or even a deep water bucket.
I would love to know about your experiences with your flock during a rainstorm!
1. Sturkie PD. TOLERANCE OF ADULT CHICKENS TO HYPOTHERMIA. American Journal of Physiology-Legacy Content. 1946;147:531–6.
2. Griffler TH & M. Daily Diet, Treats and Supplements for Chickens [Internet]. The Open Sanctuary Project. 2018. Available from: https://opensanctuary.org/chicken-diet-and-supplements/
Alina Hartley is a small-town girl with a ginormous love of bearded dragons. It all started with Winchester, a baby bearded who was abandoned at the shelter by his former owners because of a birth defect that caused one front leg to be shorter than the other. Alina originally went to the shelter looking for a guinea pig, but one look at Winchester and it was love at first sight. From that day on, Alina has dedicated her life to learning everything she can about bearded dragons. She loves helping new beardie parents start their incredible journey with these magnificent reptiles.
Follow her on:
Read her latest articles HERE
Learn more about her HERE.