When I made my resolution to learn new skills this year I must admit that bathing a chicken was not high up on my list. In fact it wasn’t on my list at all. But since new year the rain, rain, rain has come down, down down and our poor little pekins have got dirtier and dirtier. Booted bantams like our pekins are perfect for gardens as their feathered feet stop them from wanting to scratch too much, meaning are garden remains quite pretty. Feathered feet are not so suited to the torrential downpour that has so far constitued the great British Winter.
We have only had the chickens since late summer and so the finer points of poultry keeping are still a little alien to me however when I noticed that our buff bantam was walking around with huge clods of mud stuck to her feet I knew that something had to be done. After some Google research, which was a little hit and miss in terms of helpful advice, I decided that a shallow washing up bowl, some baby shampoo and lots of towels were the best way to proceed.
I dispatched the girls to go and catch Sock (the smallest and dirtiest of the pekins). Siince we bought the chickens the girls have become the official chicken wranglers in our house. I don’t know what it is, but they seem to round them up with much more ease than either of the adults. Within seconds Sock was brought into the lounge and the time had come to get her a little wet. Having read that chickens can easily catch chills, we decided that a full on bath was more than was needed and that we would restrict the washing to only the parts that were most needed. Quite frankly it was freezing outside and I didn’t want a damp chicken going back outside in those conditions. We made sure the water was body temperature and then placed her in, gently massaging some baby shampoo into her foot feathers, rubbing only in the direction of feather growth and soaking the worst clumps of mud until they were easily broken up and removed from her boots.
Once we were happy she was clean of mud we wrapped her up in a towel, ran another bowl of clean, warm water and dunked her again to make sure that all soap was rinsed away. She was the wrapped again, the worst of the wet gently pressed out of her feathers and a hair-dryer on low heat and gentle speed was directed at her until she was dry. Not being a chicken, it is hard to tell whether she enjoyed this or not, but she did appear to be quite content to lay on her back while the warm air fluffed her feathers back to normality.
Finally we wrapped her in the relaxation area of the lounge. This consisted of a patch of floor covered in towels where she was wrapped in an old baby blanket, Vaseline was rubbed into her wattle and comb, food and water was available for her if she wanted and the girls made a huge fuss of her.
Honestly, I wish my beauty regime was half as good as hers.
Once we were happy that she was happy we let her back out in the garden and brought the next chicken into the salon. Our first experience of washing the chickens was fun and they seem to be much happier now they aren’t carrying half the garden around on their feet. I only hope that the pekins don’t get too used to the pampered life!