A cool off, and a refreshing rain shower is not only appreciated by humans but by chickens as well. Many chicken farmers who get excited for the rain find their chickens sharing the same sentiment which makes them wonder; what exactly is rain to their chickens and should they be taking any measures to take better care of their flocks when it rains?
Can Chickens Stay Out In The Rain? Chickens regulate themselves in the rain. A downpour will usually send most chickens to their coops. But, chickens really enjoy a light rain shower. It makes foraging for them highly fruitful by bringing all the worms and bugs to the surface.
While you cannot force your chickens to stay coop-bound during rain showers, you should also know how to treat them later when they have spent some joyful time in the rain pecking on worms and bugs.
Quality versus Quantity of Rain
It is important to know at what point leaving your chickens in the rain can start affecting their health adversely. The danger to chickens is not about how wet the chicken get, but for how long they stay wet.
Chickens’ feathers are water-resistant, which means that they won’t get wet quickly. But, with enough rain, even their feathers will become soaked. That’s when it becomes dangerous for chickens.
And, if you add a cold draft or a temperature drop, the danger increases for the chickens. Chickens are highly susceptible to respiratory ailments and cold, moist air is another danger for them, even if the chickens are dry.
What Attracts Chickens to the Rain?
Chickens love a dirt bath, but they also love the rain.
Rain brings a lot of food for your chickens. Insects, worms, and other creatures come out of the ground and out from under rocks in the rain.
This becomes a feast for your chickens. They will delight in hunting down insects in a light drizzle.
Another reason chickens enjoy an overcast, rainy day is because it provides some shelter from birds of prey and other predators. It gives them more opportunities to search for food casually.
If a flying or ground predator does manage to be successful in its attack, the moisture retained by the feathers of these chickens will make it easier for them to slip away from their grip.
Which Chicken Breeds Are Most Susceptible To The Rain?
Different types of breeds are affected differently by rain. Faverolles, Poland, and Silkie have more feathers than other breeds. This fluffy, loose feathering can get wet much quicker and puts them at a higher risk of harm in the rain.
Silkies are especially prone to sickness from the water. Their feathers are hardly even water-resistant and become almost immediately soaked. They require shelter and immediate attention.
If you have these breeds and they get wet, it’s best to take a towel and dry them off. If your Silkie hen seems cold, then you should bring her into a warmer area to warm up.
Rhode Island Reds and Ameraucanas endure ample water before their feathers start to dampen and the moisture reaches their skin.
Adverse Effects of Rain For Chickens
Chickens are usually able to brave cold temperatures by trapping air in their feathers that act as insulators. In fact, they are more forbearing to cooler temperatures than they are towards heat.
Soaked chickens are much more susceptible to the cold than dry chickens.
And, baby chicks require even more care. A baby chicken can die very quickly from being too chilled.
Birds that get soaked to the bone are prone to hypothermia. The symptoms include low body temperature, labored breathing, shivering, pale or blue comb, and pale sinus tissue. If your bird is caught up in a wind chill it will get under the weather very quickly, worsening the condition.
It is vital that chickens are not exposed to rain repetitively and dried off as soon as possible; otherwise, they will be subject to respiratory issues and fungal infections underneath their feathers. Once your flock has played in the rain give them a warm bath and blow dry them after. Using a dog blower is great in such a scenario.
Be Aware Of Bullying During Wet Weather
Make sure that during rainy days, your chickens have plenty of access to shelter. Limited access can result in bullying that keeps some chickens outside, even when it becomes dangerous for them.
Chickens that are higher in the pecking order get in the doorway and don’t let the younger ones in.
Make sure that your chickens can access shelter without mud. Stagnant water anywhere close to your flocks’ coop can cause illness if they drink from it.
Muddy feet can become home to internal parasites and create problems such as bumblefoot and coccidiosis.
Make sure you are providing dry food and water for drinking to your chickens. Wet food will swell like cereal and turn into an absolute mush, also harboring bacteria and fungus.
In order to keep your chicken entertained when they are coop-bound, offer them a dust bath. Chicken love dust bathing especially when they are in groups. It is their way to clean themselves; keep their feathers in pristine condition, remove excess oil from their bodies and get rid of external parasites such as lice and mites.
Are Chickens Waterproof? Chicken feathers are not waterproof, but they are water-resistant. With the exception of a few breeds such as the Polish chicken, most chicken breeds have feathers that bead water when it hits the feather. This keeps the chicken warmer, even in wet weather. In heavy rain or if the chicken’s feathers aren’t healthy, the chicken will get soaked and be at risk of getting sick or dying.
Can Chickens Sleep In The Rain? Chickens can be odd birds. Some love to hunker down at night and refuse to go into the coop. Even in the rain, some chickens prefer the outdoors to a coop. Chickens will be safer in the rain if the weather is warm, but if the weather cools at night or a quick frost hits, the damp chickens will be much more at danger. If the rain turns to snow, sleet, or frost, then the chicken is much more likely to freeze to death or die.
Does Rain Affect Chickens Egg Laying? Rain by itself does not affect a chickens egg laying, but a sudden change in the weather or a sudden drop or increase in temperature can cause hens to stop laying. A gradual change in the weather will not affect chickens, even if the weather gets very cold.
Can Chickens Drown In The Rain? Chickens can drown in the rain. Some chickens have been so fascinated at the sky that looking up into the sky that they rain drowns them while they look up. More common, chickens are likely to drown if they get caught in a downpour such as rain coming off a roof, or getting stuck in a puddle.
Is Rain Bad For Ducks? Unlike chickens, who will eventually get soaked, ducks almost never get soaked. Ducks have an oil gland that covers their feathers and makes them waterproof. That’s why even in the dead of winter, you will see ducks on the water of a nearly frozen pond. While your chickens will eventually go inside during the rain, the ducks will scramble to get outside and stay outside the entire time.