If you are thinking about purchasing chickens as pets but have a pond or swimming pool nearby, you are probably wondering if chickens can swim. The short answer is that yes, chickens can swim, but only for a short time. Like most other birds, chickens have a natural swimming instinct, but they are not swimming birds like ducks or swans. We are going to take a closer look at this common question about chickens and swimming so you can be more educated and keep your chickens safe around water.

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Do Chickens Swim?

Chickens don’t usually get into the water eagerly as ducks do. Chickens will usually keep their distance, preferring to drink from the water supply in the coop rather than from a pond or a stream. A chicken doesn’t enjoy swimming or baths, so there is little need to worry about if your chicken will try to get into the water. It’s also intelligent enough to know what water is, so it won’t go in by accident. Many chickens will walk around the edge of a pond looking for worms but will stay out of the water.

Can a Chicken Swim?

As we mentioned earlier, your chicken has the instinct to swim and would immediately begin if you dropped it into the water. Unfortunately, the feathers on a chicken are not water-resistant, so they will absorb the water and become heavy, which will tire the chicken out. It won’t swim long, so if it can’t get to shore or out of its predicament, it will drown. Its feet are also not designed for swimming and will not make good paddles, so a chicken will need to do plenty of work with minimal results.

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Potential Dangers

Falling In

One of the most significant dangers that chickens face is on a farm where a farmer may have several buckets of water laying around for cows and other livestock to drink from. Each of these buckets presents a danger to your chicken because it may fall in and be unable to escape before its feathers are saturated and it drowns.


Grass and other plants will often cover water, making it difficult to see, which can be dangerous for chickens because they can fall in. As long as they can get out again quickly, there shouldn’t be any problem, but we recommend making sure all water is visible before allowing your chickens to run free.



Another reason your chicken might end up in the water by accident is that it is trying to escape a predator. The chicken won’t run to water for protection, but if a cat or dog is chasing it in the direction of water, it will run right in. This circumstance can be especially difficult for your chicken because the predator will likely be blocking its way out of the water. Even if you watch closely, cats can sneak onto your property and pose a danger to your free-range chickens.

Related Read: What Killed My Chicken? Here’s How To Determine The Killer


Drowning isn’t the only concern when a chicken falls into the water. If the temperature is cold, your bird can get hypothermia and will be more susceptible to illness, like humans. If your chicken falls into the water in winter, you can help by towel drying the chicken or using a hairdryer on the lowest setting to help dry out the feathers and warm the skin.

How Can I Prevent Accidents?

One of the best and easiest ways to help keep your chickens from getting into danger is to put a ramp in any water deep enough for the chicken to drown. Attach a ramp to all of the animals’ drinking containers and several around the shore of the pond. You will also want to place ramps in deep areas of any streams and especially in any hidden water.

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Can Chickens Go in a Pool?

Some people might like to let their chickens swim with them in a pool, supervising them closely. You can allow them a few minutes to cool off as long as there is a clear path to get out. Small children’s pools are better because there is less chance of drowning, and there is no chlorine in the water that can dry out their skin.

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If your chicken fell into the water and has a way of getting out, you likely have nothing to worry about unless it’s cold. A few oddball chickens may even enjoy stepping into puddles or taking a quick dip in the pond. However, most chickens will stay out of the water without you needing to take any steps to prevent them and will only go into the water by accident. To reduce the risk of drowning, we recommend placing ramps or bricks into deep water so your birds can climb back out.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this guide and found it helpful and informative. If we have helped you feel better about the water on your property, please share this answer to if chickens can swim with your friends.

Featured Image Credit: Olga Ivanova V, Shutterstock