Unless you show your chickens, the only circumstance in which you'll need to wash them is if they’re really grubby – for example, if there was a heavy rainfall and now they’re covered in mud. Chickens can find bathing quite a stressful, chilly experience, but if you do it correctly then some might rather enjoy it.
Before you begin, some very important things to remember are to not leave your chickens on their own when in water, and to not leave them to dry in a cold environment.
- Make sure it’s a warm day
Chickens don’t cope well with being wet. They lose all of their insulation, and so they’ll be extremely cold. It’s best to only bathe your chickens on warm days, or to keep them in a warm environment post-wash.
- Prepare the washing equipment before you begin
You’ll need a sink or a bucket full of warm water, unless it’s an extremely hot day when lukewarm or cool water may be preferable to stop your chooks overheating. You’ll either need some special poultry shampoo (or baby shampoo), a towel, a cotton wool bud, and a hairdryer that has a cool setting. It’s often useful to have a toothbrush to help clean your chicken’s feet, too.
- Wash one chicken at a time
Place your chicken gently in the water, but don’t submerge their head. Make sure that their feathers are all wet, as some may have some waterproofing. Using your fingers, smooth some water onto your chicken’s head.
- Lather the soap in
Remove your chicken from the water, and apply the soap. Be as gentle as possible, taking care not to get any soap in your pet's eyes or nostrils. Carefully remove dirt from your chickens legs using the toothbrush, being careful not to scrub too vigorously.
Rinse your chicken with warm water. Do so thoroughly, as traces of soap left in their feathers can cause them to stick together and lose their insulating ability.
- Dry your chicken
First, wrap the bird in a nice fluffly towel to get the majority of the water out. Pat your chicken dry, and then, if you have a hairdryer with a cool setting, you can use this cool setting to dry your chicken’s feathers. Be sure to have it on the lowest power setting, and to not blow the feathers in the wrong direction – blow them in the direction they grow, as doing otherwise will be very uncomfortable for your chicken. Watch to see if your chicken lifts its wings – if it does, this can be a clear sign that your chicken is too hot, and so you should wait a while to allow your chicken to cool off before completing the drying process.
Once you’ve got your chicken dry, it’s best to leave them in a warm environment, such as a room in your home. If it’s a hot day outside, then you can simply leave them out there to dry off, but it’s wise to check them in the evening when it’s cooler – if they’re not completely dry and warm, then you may want to bring them indoors overnight.