Welcome to the wonderful world of backyard chickens! Having a reliable source of eggs and becoming more independent is now within your reach, plus you get the added bonus of watching your new chickens develop their personalities. Now that you have your chickens you'll want to keep them clean and happy. So here's the skinny on the exact reasons why and how to wash a chicken properly.
How chickens normally keep clean and when to intervene
Chickens are very independent, just like you're aiming to be. For the most part, they keep themselves clean with regular dust bathing. So when do you need to intervene in their normal routine and give them a good old fashion rinse off? They won't be able to remove caked-on feces themselves, so giving them a hand is the best way to keep them spick and span. You may also come across some less common problems such as: treating pests, cleaning to assess injuries, or the dreaded skunk spray.
The steps to get a clean chicken
Bathing a chicken is much like bathing any other animal, the supplies and process are very similar. Whether you are bathing them in a bathtub, sink, or a bucket, you are going to need to keep yourself safe. Make sure to hold your bird very securely with one hand on their wings at all times. Lower them in gently, this is a new experience for them after all. Begin using lukewarm water and soak your chicken's problem areas applying a small amount of shampoo, lather up, and watch the suds work their magic!
If your chicken has a foot infection or caked-on debris a nail brush will be super helpful to have on hand. After you remove any dirt or feces be sure to rinse well and gently squeeze any excess water from their feathers. On hotter days you can now release your bird to air dry, you don't want a wet chicken so if it is a little chillier wrap them in a towel and use a hairdryer on the low heat setting. Even better if it has a cool setting. Lastly, make sure to never leave your little chicken unattended in water, chickens can drown very easily.
At what age should I bathe my chickens?
When they are younger than 6 months a full bath is not necessary and if they have any caked-on feces or dirt, wiping them down with a wet towel will do the trick.
What type of shampoo should I use?
Baby shampoos or any other gentle use shampoo with no irritants, such as Johnsons baby shampoo, or dawn dish soap.
And when your chicken is all clean, remember to treat them with PopWorms!