For a variety of reasons, your chickens’ overall cleanliness may become a concern. For this reason, people often wonder if it is okay to give a chicken a bath. The answer is yes, it is even beneficial.
Bathing your chickens should be done, when possible, at the same time you clean the coop. This will help both chickens and coop to stay clean for longer. There are a lot of positive side effects to having clean chickens and coop. This will help prevent disease and poor health. It will also help fight bad odors. However, it is important to note that bathing your chickens does not need to be done as frequently as coop-cleaning, as chickens ‘dust-bathe’— roll around in the dirt to get clean then shaking the dirt off and preening their feathers. There are situations in which bathing your chicken may be beneficial, usually when it is particularly dirty or smelly, sick, injured, or has filth (such as droppings) on it.
Cleaning the coop has already been discussed in a previous article, but how do you clean a chicken?
Chickens can be cleaned indoors or outdoors. You will need to containers— buckets, bathtubs, sinks or pretty much any other container you can think of will work. If you plan on bathing them outside, make sure the weather is warm and sunny. If you bathe them inside make sure you are prepared to deal with water splashed all over the place.
When you clean them, use a gentle soap or shampoo. DO NOT use harsh soaps, such as dish soap or vinegar (unless it is very diluted with water); these will strip oil from the feathers. Mix a little bit of the soap with water, and gently clean the chicken. Do not scrub or rub too hard, or try to pull grime off the feathers. You can just let them sit or you can plunge the chicken up and down in the water or use a sprayer nozzle.
When they are clean, rinse them in clean water. Follow the same procedure as used when washing them in the soapy water. When they are rinsed, make sure they are dry, especially if the weather is cold. Blow drying them works well. An extremely gentle towel dry will also work. You do not want to put the chickens back out if they are wet— even if it does not make them sick it will likely make them unhappy (as well as cause them to get dirty again more quickly).
After they are clean and dry, you may want to file or clip their nails. Do this carefully. You may also want to apply some products (such as lice powder) before you return them to their coop.