Can you bathe or shower Silkie chickens?
Yes. Anybody who shows chickens will be well acquainted with the tortuous schedule the few days before a show when the chickens are washed and you spend ages in a futile effort trying to keep them clean. You can also clean badly soiled chickens if you need to.
You do not need to bath chickens on a regular basis, providing they have a large dry dust bath they will keep themselves clean and their feathers in good condition.
It will also wash away her natural oils that waterproof her feathers so if its wet she is more likely to get soaked so I would give her a day or two to make them nice again unless her run area is covered or she lives in the house or you aren't expecting rain, its the best in my opinion if you rinse with diluted vinegar it makes them super soft and prevents parasites. It only takes 48 hours or so for those oils to be replaced.
Below: A Silkie being washed.
You should always use no more tears baby shampoo or specialist pet shampoo as it won't sting their eyes, because it's gentle and won't hurt their eyes, since you need to clean the crest on one of them. I would just shampoo them a tub of warm water, and then rinse them off with some clean warm water.
The basic process is to wet the chickens thoroughly and wash them like you would your own hair in warm water, just rubbing the shampoo through the feathers gently. The rinse in warm water wrap them in a towel or blow them dry on low heat.
When or how often should you wash Silkies?
How often do people wash their chickens, is it regularly or only for shows and photo shoots and how much of the bird do you wash at any one time, just the feet, the whole chicken or only the parts that are dirty.
Below: Just wash the bits that need it, in this case just the feet.
Well I only spot wash feet or patches of feathers if I have too and only actually bath them if it is for shows or photography. See Silkie foot care.
Not all chickens like to be bathed, they need time to get used to the water and can panic easily.
How do I give my Silkie chicken a bath?
This is how I do things, it's not the only way or the absolutely correct way, or the way you should do it. It is the just the way we are most comfortable and the method we and our birds are happy with.
Below: A wed and muddy Silkie.
I arrange the baby or no more tears shampoo, nail clippers, emery board, blood stop, towels, blow dryers, and comb before I ever get the bird. Before the bath, I clip nails, and clip and shape the beak. I fill the sink with warm water, and then add a squirt of Dawn dish washing detergent to help cut through the natural oil on the bird's feathers and allow the water to get through to the Silkies skin.
I bathe our chickens when absolutely necessary like before a show, or if badly infested with external parasites, like mites or lice, is about the only time our Silkies get bathed.
When going to a show, it is usually recommended to bathe a Silkie about 3 days before the show. I bathe, clip nails and beaks, blow the bird dry and place the Silkie in a wire bottomed cage or in very deep shavings that are kept meticulously clean.
There is nothing worse than spending hours bathing and drying a white Silkie, only to have it lay down in poop and undo all your efforts!
We bathe Silkies in the kitchen sink but before I got a large double sink in my kitchen I used to use two buckets or totes, one with soapy water and one for rinsing.
Below: A wet through Silkie being washed.
I hold the bird in my left hand (I am right-handed), with the bird's breastbone in the middle of my hand, and it's legs held tightly between my first and second finger and my third and fourth finger. Holding a Silkie this way gives you complete control and helps them to feel secure. I lower the bird into the water and use my right hand to wet the Silkie all over.
After the bird is completely wet, I apply the shampoo and lather the Silkie, paying particular attention to the feet, vent area, crest, and any other soiled areas. I really like to use Adam's Flea and Tick Shampoo, as it will also eliminate any mites that are present. Special shampoo for white dogs or horses helps to brighten white feathers, and I use it before shows, after the Adam's shampoo.
Below: A clean but wet chicken.
Once the Silkie has been completely lathered and I feel it is clean, I drain the water out of the sink, and turn the faucet on at a warm temperature. Still holding the bird, I rinse it under the warm running water, turning it to rinse each area, including the crest, which can be safely rinsed by tilting the bird's head back, and directing the water over the crest, being very careful not to allow the water to run forward into the bird's eyes or nose.
Below: A Silkie wrapped up tight in a towel.
After rinsing, I roll the Silkie up in a large towel, making a "Silkie burrito", and keep it wrapped in the towel for about 10-15 minutes, so as much excess water as possible is absorbed into the towel.
Then, the bird is unwrapped and the blow drying begins! I like to place the Silkie on paper towels on top of the towel, because it usually will poop as soon as I unwrap it. I use 2 blow dryers set on cool and high speed, and don't quit until the bird is completely dry.
Below: Blow drying.
If we are preparing for a poultry show, and have a lot of birds to bathe, I set up some cages with heat lamps over them, blow dry each bird for 15 minutes or so, then put it under the heat lamp while I move on to the next bird, and go back to finish each bird after it has dried for awhile under the heat lamp.
This series of pictures is of a rooster that we have been using for breeding this year, he had never been bathed or blow-dried, but he was very cooperative and pretty calm about the entire procedure. As you can see above, he looked really good when he was finished!
Below: Before and after drying.
I use baby shampoo in a warmish bath but don't forget that washing the strips there natural oils and Silkies aren't waterproof. Make sure she is warm and dry before you put her back out in the coop
I do mine in a mop bucket and they seem pretty chilled with that. Johnson’s baby shampoo is gentle and does the job. They have a quick blitz with a hair dryer and dry naturally next to a warm radiator.
How do you dry Silkies and chickens?
You can use:
- Heat lamps.
- A blow dryer on low heat setting.
To dry Silkies and chickens and then in a cage under a heat lamp to finish off drying. In the warm and dry of summer They can finish drying naturally after the have been towelled.
In the winter or when it's cold and wet I bring them inside and after wrapping them in a towels, I lay them out in front of a TV to watch something.
Only on a very low setting and from a distance as it folds there feather back in the wrong direction. And Silkies seem to have thin skin and quite low tolerance to having their feathers blown the wrong way.
Ours rather like being bathed. We use warm water and pet shampoo and then a hair-dryer quickly before they get cold. We don't let them flap their wings or panic, get cold or get shampoo or water on their faces during their bath.
Do Silkie chickens smell?
Silkies, the same as all chickens have a distinct and recognisable smell but well cared for birds in a clean environment will rarely smell bad at all. It is much the same as dogs and cats have distinctive scents. So if you pick a chicken up and smell it, it will have certain smell.
If they get covered in mud or poop then they will smell and a bath may be in order.
How do you keep Silkie chickens clean?
Everybody else's Silkies look spic & span in their photos. Mine free range and they are are grubby little urchins with particularly filthy feet.
It is quite difficult to keep Silkies clean. The combination of the fluffy feathers and feathered feet turn them into sponges that soak up dirt.
The only way to keep Silkie chickens clean is to have a covered run that keeps the weather out so it never gets wet and muddy. Making sure the birds roost properly means some won't get pooped on by other during the night.
What do you wash Silkies with?
You must use a no more tears baby shampoo or a special pet wash and water at 35 C or 95 F.
Below: Use the right tools for the job.
Don't be tempted by dish soap just because it is easily to hand, if it gets in the eyes it could do real damage as chicken do not produce tears in the same way as humans instead relying on a third eyelid to clean the eye.
How do you shower a chicken?
If they've been paddling in muck we just wash their feet, no need to strip their natural feather oils unnecessarily. Rinse or scrub - depends on what they need.
If a Silkie needed a bath, but it was 30-40° outside. How would you acclimate them back to that temperature, as to not shock their system. Showering is quicker.
Make sure they are completely blow-dried then use cooling dry on the to get the heat off them . Give them about an hour before putting them back out
If you’re OK with washing your bird then I would just wash the bird otherwise I would leave it until it dries up and pull it
Bath a chicken when it's cold:
Every now and then one or other of the babes will pick ineffectually at an exceptionally matted toe feather and they did seem to like being clean the once we have bathed their crud-encrusted bodies all over. But now the weather has got cold, is it safe to bath them?