You have to give your dogs and cats a bath, otherwise you might have some fowl smelling animals wandering about your house...but what about your chickens? Do they need to be bathed like our other household pets?
The answer is generally no, unless you see they are really, really dirty, and no amount of dust bathing will amend the situation!
Chickens keep themselves clean by dust bathing, which seems a little contradictory - but it really does work a treat!
When chickens start to feel a little bit dirty or gritty, they will dig a shallow ditch (in soil, mulch, sand, or other dry, loose materials), in which they will burrow and throw the dirt over themselves. They will do this until the dirt has coated their feathers and is settled down to their skin- where it is believed to absorb excess moisture and oil, and clog the breathing pores of parasites that may have found their way onto your chicken. They will then stand up and shake out all the dirt- so be sure to be standing away from the action, then proceed to preen themselves before getting on with their usual chicken business. Read more about this important hygiene ritual in this article.
Generally, chickens can stay clean simply by dust bathing, but in some cases your chickens may appear so filthy that this won’t cut it. So, if this is the case, you may have to give your chickens a quick rinse and repeat!How to bathe your chickens:
Bathing a chicken is just like bathing any other pet. They may or may not like getting wet and may try to flap on out of the tub, but once you “get your feet wet” by giving a hen a bath, you’ll soon get the hang of it!
Simply fill a utility tub with soothing warm water and holding the chook with both hands, dip her into the water gently splashing water onto her feathers to wet her.
Using baby shampoo, a mild soap such as Ivory, or a pet shampoo, lather her up, rinse and wrap in an old clean towel and dry. Or if you prefer,you can add the soap to the water first.
Some people even use a blow dryer to dry their girls giving them the whole spa treatment!
It’s as simple as that - your chicken will be back to her squeaky clean self in no time. For more tips on keeping your chickens at the height of hygiene, check out our Grooming and Maintenance article.
In order for them to stay clean, it’s important that your chickens have an area in the coop (if they’re in the run full time) in which to dust bathe - so if you get a Taj Mahal, Penthouse or Mansion, dig up a little dirt for them to splash around in!
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