Yes. I Bathed a Chicken.

Gerts Bubble Bath

So, it has come to this.

Yep.  I’m really committing this to the internet; flying my crazy flag high.  When I called the Texan at work to tell him that I had given one of our chickens a bath, he said, and I quote, “There are really just some things I wish you wouldn’t share with me.”

I didn’t want to do it.

But Gertie forced my hand.  Every once in awhile, chickens get a little bit mucky in their nether-regions.  Sometimes this is because they are sick, sometimes they are just having an extended ‘not-so-fresh moment’.  Hey, if you had all those fluffy petticoats to keep track of, you’d probably have a mess every once in awhile, too.  Well, Gertie got dirty.  I’ve been keeping an eye on it the past few days, making sure she seemed healthy otherwise, keeping tabs as to whether the situation was worsening or improving.  It seemed to be getting gunkier (though she seemed in perfect health).  This can be a bad thing (beyond just being disgusting), because the caked-on poop can actually create a roadblock, if you know what I mean.  Today, I decided, it was time for drastic measures.

I have chosen to spare you a ‘before’ photo.

After reading up on it, and assuring myself that I wasn’t the first person to try this, I sought advice from Lisa, over at Fresh-Eggs-Daily.  While she’d never actually had a chicken get dirty enough to bathe, she’d had to bathe egg-bound hens in the past (this helps to facilitate the laying, apparently).  She assured me that chickens were surprisingly agreeable to the process.  The basic method seemed pretty universal: small tub filled with warm bubble bath, set your bird in it, gently scrub gunk off, rinse.  COME ON.  There was just no way it was that simple.  I pictured a squawking, flapping, emotionally-damaged Gertie, and a squawking, flapping, emotionally-damaged me.  This just couldn’t end well.

Fortunately, my mom was visiting, and volunteered to both take photos and laugh at me.

I found a water-tight container that would fit inside our guest bath tub and filled it about 3/4 of the way full of warm water mixed with a bit of liquid dish soap–just enough to make it good and bubbly.  I wanted it deep enough that her bum would be underwater for a good soaking.  If I got that far.  I’ll admit it, I was S.T.R.E.S.S.E.D as I went out and picked up the bird–the last thing I wanted to do was get her partially wet and not be able to finish the job.  But I tried to remain calm, so that she would remain calm.  After a little bit of cuddling and a few words of encouragement, I steeled myself and gently set her in the bubble bath.

Gertie goes in the tub

Expecting a whirling banshee, I was dumbfounded that she remained quiet.  I loosened my grip, and she hopped calmly up onto the edge of the little tub.  I picked her back up and set her once more into the water, and this time, I kid you not, she just stayed where I put her.  For a bit, we had to just sit like this, conversing softly with each other, while the water and suds loosened the spackling.

Someone's having far too good of a time.

I may be enjoying this.

Finally, it was time to start kind of gently working the gunk out of her feathers.  I’m not going to lie, this was seriously gross.  But you gotta do what you gotta do.  Slowly, but surely, it all came off like a charm.  At this point, I pulled the bird from the bath, wrapped her tight in a dry towel, and then I dumped and cleaned the basin, filling it again with warm, clear water.  Then I set Gertie back in, and again, she just let me do my thing–totally relaxed.  I proceeded to rinse her all off.

Rinsing the birdAt this point, with all those wet feathers, there was a lot of bare skin showing.  This was a great moment to kind of inspect her rear-end and make sure there was nothing that looked amiss.  Everything looked good and clean and healthy to me, so back out of the water and into a new dry towel she went.  She seemed all too happy to have some cuddles while she was wrapped up in that towel.

After-bath Cuddles

It is extremely important not to let chickens get chilled, which is why I chose to do this indoors in a heated, small bathroom.  But, I was not about to let her wander around wet (even though it was pretty warm today, it is definitely winter!).  So, at Lisa’s suggestion, I pulled out the blow-dryer.  Once again, I thought, “NO.  WAY.”  No bird is going to let me blast them with this loud machine.  I turned it on low, and pointed it away from her.  After she didn’t spook, I turned the very gentle airstream onto her, and again, she didn’t freak–she wasn’t sure about it, but she didn’t freak.

Blow-out Time

After a bit, I could tell she was really loving it, and so I let go of her.  Eventually, I was able to switch it to high.  I always kept my hand on her (except when I was snapping a photo), helping her to fluff her feathers so that I made sure she wasn’t getting too hot.

What's this?  Why are my feathers ruffling?!

What sort of sorcery is this?!

Headless chicken preens her feathers as I direct the heat on her.

Headless chicken preens her feathers as I direct the heat on her.

Oh, yeah, leaning into the current!

Oh, yeah, leaning into the current!

Gotta fluff that butt back up!

Gotta fluff that butt back up!

Oh, the stink-eye I got when I turned the blow-dryer off!

Oh, the stink-eye I got when I turned the blow-dryer off!

All dry and shiny and gunk-free, she actually scolded me when I turned the blow-dryer off.  When I set it on the ground, she went and inspected it, as if trying to figure out how to turn the thing back on.  Though she felt completely dry to me, and because I had already broke the ‘No House Chickens’ rule, I allowed her to lounge with me at my computer desk for a bit just to make sure she was good and dry before returning her to her natural habitat.

My gorgeous Gert all clean and shiny, back in the dirt immediately.

My gorgeous Gert all clean and shiny, back in the dirt immediately.

Glad to have that fluff back back in order.

Glad to have that view back in order.

It is safe to say that as I was endeavoring to take on backyard chickening, I never expected or intended to give a bird a bubble bath.  Where was that chapter in the instruction manual?!  I am not going to sit here and recommend that anyone do this with their birds, or claim that it would even go this smoothly–I just wanted to share this crazy experience.  Against all logic, it went well for us.  We bonded.  I feel so much closer to her now.

The end.

The end.

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46 thoughts on “Yes. I Bathed a Chicken.

  1. Lisa January 15, 2013 at 5:04 pm Reply

    See? I told you :0)

  2. aprilsclblog January 15, 2013 at 5:08 pm Reply

    Hahaha – oh the things we do for our critters! Your chicken appears to bathe easier than my dogs!

    • farmhouseK8 January 15, 2013 at 5:35 pm Reply

      She did better than my dogs, too! Crazy!!!

  3. Watalula Acres January 15, 2013 at 5:38 pm Reply

    I love, “The End”! Ha! Very cute!

  4. cntcutnup January 15, 2013 at 6:02 pm Reply

    That was a wonderful story. I enjoyed it very much. Thank you for sharing. ~ Terrilyn

    • farmhouseK8 January 15, 2013 at 8:23 pm Reply

      Thanks for stopping by, Terrilyn!

  5. julieadolf January 15, 2013 at 6:52 pm Reply

    Love this! My girlie nonchalantly bathes her chickens, and they really enjoy it. Who knew? She then carries them around like a baby, swaddled in a towel. The first time she did it, I actually fussed at her a little, telling her to leave the poor chicken in peace. (She wasn’t very dirty.) Then, as Kristen started showing chickens, she had to bathe the girls. The kids are actually taught very specific ways that chickens must be cleaned to present in shows–it’s funny. Still, the photos of Gertie leaning toward the hair dryer and all fluffed up are too cute and funny! Congratulations to you on a new “farm” skill–bathing chickens! 😉

    • farmhouseK8 January 15, 2013 at 8:25 pm Reply

      Oh, thanks, Julie! I would love to get some pointers from Kristen! Is this how she does it? I want some ‘show’ secrets!!! 🙂

  6. little poppits January 15, 2013 at 7:43 pm Reply

    you are sooooo funny! you had me and my kids in fits of laughter! Now come on I’m dying to know did you add perfume! xxx

    • farmhouseK8 January 15, 2013 at 8:26 pm Reply

      Oh, who needs perfume when one has Eau de Wet, Poopy Chicken?!!!

  7. Tina January 15, 2013 at 7:49 pm Reply

    I absolutely love this post! Who knew Dirty Gertie would enjoy her spa day so much.
    She’s so funny and obviously loves to primp. How you got a chicken to let you blow dry her is beyond my comprehension…you are the Chicken Whisperer???

    • farmhouseK8 January 15, 2013 at 8:23 pm Reply

      From my exhaustive research (5 minutes on the internet), it’s apparently pretty universal that chickens don’t mind the bath or the blow-out. Who knew!

  8. From a Montana Front Porch January 15, 2013 at 7:52 pm Reply

    Oh how you made me laugh!! I wish my chickens were that loving! As it is, they were a year old when I got them and I’m lucky if they let me get close enough to barely touch their feathers when I put them up at night! I’m so glad she is clean now and back to her original beauty! 🙂

    • farmhouseK8 January 15, 2013 at 8:28 pm Reply

      What’s really funny, is that Gert is my least ‘cuddly’ bird. We like each other just fine, and she follows me around, but she doesn’t love to be picked up (Millie is the exact opposite). And yet! I feel like I should do this more often with her for special bonding time!!! Wow. I’m so far gone.

  9. Charlotte Zweigoron January 15, 2013 at 11:06 pm Reply

    Maybe you need to read this story and show the pictures to your doggies every night until they get the idea. Your bird was easier to wash than my chihuahua, too! Thinking about it a little more though, I realized that our pet birds LOVE to bathe! We have a Love Bird and a Cockatiel. The Love Bird is not as old as the Cockatiel except in “bird years”. He is getting a little erratic about hitting his target when he is flying these days and mostly wants to snuggle on my husbands neck, put his head under his wing and sleeeeeep (my DH has a very high metabolism and gives off a lot of body heat all the time… birds love it.) But even this old stinker loves to splash and dunk in a shallow dish of water. It does have to be a shallow dish of water because, much to our surprise, dismay and heartbreak, birdies can’t swim… they will drown if in water that is too deep. We now know that you cannot leave the potty lid up, the unattended bathtub filling or even a partially filled glass around with smaller pet birds on the loose. In the case of the glass, they will perch on the edge of the glass, reach down for a drink, fall in headfirst and drown. (This same thing, unfortunately, happens to many toddlers each year who fall into open toilets or buckets of water left unattended while washing the car, mopping or whatever.) This bird drowning hazard (we never had any toddlers together) has been the only thing my DH has ever accepted as a reason to put the potty lid down!! Only took 15 years and one greatly missed little birdie to achieve this state of female Nirvana. The DH even warns visitors to be sure to close the lid after use. He always gets funny looks from the guys… whose side is he on, after all? BTW, I am not surprised in the least that you would have to attend to this offensive decorative statement that Gertie was displaying. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do…. and, Chicken Washer may just give your resume the oooomph that will make it stand out from the rest!

    • farmhouseK8 January 15, 2013 at 11:11 pm Reply

      Hahahah, Charlotte!
      (Sorry about your little birdie–we had one drown in a fishbowl, once, too–very sad).
      I realized after the whole thing, too, that my parrot loves a good bath (though she sees to this task herself)–you are totally right! And all the little visiting birds that splash around in our fountain would second that. 🙂

  10. keepyourmemoriesinyourshoes January 16, 2013 at 2:12 am Reply

    Absolutely hysterical! Loved the pics! – Renee

  11. P.E.A.C.E. January 16, 2013 at 7:08 pm Reply

    Oh how I enjoy visiting here! Your Gert girl is adorable, and so are you for happily getting her all clean and fluffy. Love how she scolded you for turning the dryer off – she loves that thing! Very sweet post that made me laugh with joy. Thank you so much!

    • farmhouseK8 January 16, 2013 at 10:13 pm Reply

      Oh, I’m so glad! Thanks for reading! 🙂

  12. Becky January 16, 2013 at 11:24 pm Reply

    That was the cutest chicken story! Time to write your first children’s book?

    • farmhouseK8 January 17, 2013 at 12:15 am Reply

      Oh, Becky, you’re so nice! Hahaha, these chickens are endless shenanigans–they could write their own book! 🙂

  13. Shannon January 17, 2013 at 3:06 pm Reply

    I laughed all day yesterday, and am still laughing over this post. The “sorcery” caption about made me fall off my couch. This is in complete contrast to another bloggers’ evisceration post of last week (which made me sad).

    I’m with Becky. That would make an awesome chicken story. A digital flipbook of sorts would be awesome. Oh! Here’s a cute one for inspiration, the goat farm we went to back ub February (

    Thanks for making my day with that beautiful post.

    PS — Loving your new blog look! The header is perfect.

    • farmhouseK8 January 17, 2013 at 3:43 pm Reply

      Hahaha, glad you liked it, Shannon–these birds are seriously a joy. Gertie, especially, has such a little personality and attitude.
      I will definitely check out this link! Thanks so much for sharing!!

    • farmhouseK8 January 17, 2013 at 3:46 pm Reply

      OMgosh–that was so darn cute!!!

  14. Shannon January 17, 2013 at 6:28 pm Reply

    I knew you’d like it! Now, get to work on that chookie flip book for your adoring fans. We have expectations, you know. 🙂

    • farmhouseK8 January 17, 2013 at 7:47 pm Reply

      Hahahah! I’m on it! (I’m also in the midst of making a funny (hopefully!) short film about them, too….). 🙂

      • Shannon January 17, 2013 at 7:56 pm

        Ooo! You mean, like you dog and elf on the shelf? That would be awesome (BTW, my kids just loved that video).

      • farmhouseK8 January 17, 2013 at 10:22 pm

        Oh, I’m so glad! We got a lot of ‘upset’ feedback about it because the dogs were touching the elf and that is SUCH a no-no!
        But, yes! Something along those lines…we were supposed to do something for the holidays (that’s usually our thing, is doing a video) but it didn’t work out. So, working on this other one now!

      • Shannon January 17, 2013 at 10:37 pm

        Oh yes…I can see how “upset” folks can get about that. We were never into the elf thing, so my kids just thought is was super-cute.

      • farmhouseK8 January 18, 2013 at 1:24 am

        Ok, good!!! 🙂 Yeah, we were blissfully unaware of the sanctity of THE ELF, but believe me, we have been TOLD after that video, hahahaha!

  15. Debbie Risinger January 18, 2013 at 3:29 am Reply

    Well done!!! I love this!! You and Gertie are GREAT!!

  16. Theresa Ontiveros January 19, 2013 at 2:35 pm Reply

    Love your story and pics, and funny thing is today is our first day of chicken spa. We have 4 girls that HAVE to HAVE a butt bath today, and was wondering how to go about it. I’ll let you know how it goes! Theresa at Sunnydale Farm

    • farmhouseK8 January 19, 2013 at 3:20 pm Reply

      Awesome! Can’t wait to hear about it! Good luck! 🙂

  17. Jon January 25, 2013 at 7:21 pm Reply

    It is good to know I am not the only one who has bathed a chicken. Our Silkie chicken (Zsa Zsa) needed a good bath to clean up some of the issues you mentioned. It was actually a fun thing to do and made for a great video. Amazing photos in your post!

  18. Deborah Rusterholz Vivona February 4, 2013 at 12:50 pm Reply

    I noticed that I too, had a Dirty Bird, so it is a God send, to find your info today! I have bathed a Dirty Bird in the Summer and used a wadding pool and wasn’t sure if I wanted to attempt the house tub…But today, after reading your blog, I will attempt giving Bethany, my Rhode Island Red, a whirl in the whirlpool! Thanks, for spreading the news! 🙂 Hopefully, my girl, Bethany will have fluffy red ‘pantalones’ again!

    • farmhouseK8 February 4, 2013 at 3:04 pm Reply

      Hahahah! Good luck! Thanks for stopping by and let me know how it goes with her! 🙂

  19. home, garden, life February 12, 2013 at 6:07 pm Reply

    You are a woman after my own heart! Gerty is so lucky to have a mom like you! Hope that she is fine now that she is shampooed and shined. Kudos, darling blog in every way.

  20. cheryl bunn March 6, 2013 at 10:19 pm Reply

    I have a chicken with a dirty back end. I am do think that I am going to bite the bullet and try this with her. I hope it turns out as well for us.

    • farmhouseK8 March 6, 2013 at 10:33 pm Reply

      Good luck, Cheryl! Sometimes it’s the only option!

  21. Julie Walter DeMoss March 29, 2013 at 12:48 am Reply

    believe it or not guinea hens will even let you bath them and blow dry too. i have even done this with a couple of pheasants that got in a fight and had blood on them. i have only bathed one chicken though and it was because she got to the point she couldn’t walk from an injury and had to be bathed daily to keep her clean. But this spring most of my hens have that poopy butt going on right now so they will be getting bathed once the weather breaks and it gets in the 60’s. Of course the one that is the worst is my one mean hen that does not like to be picked up. Mostly they clean themselves once they can find a dry area to dust bath but with the snow melting that is far and few area’s. cute story and really enjoyed reading it.

    • farmhouseK8 March 29, 2013 at 3:03 pm Reply

      Thanks, Julie! It is still one of my favorite experiences so far in chicken-keeping. Such a pleasant surprise!

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