Can chickens swim?
This is a pretty funny question, but I really want to know and I’m sure you do too, don’t you?
Let’s check it out:
Although they do not particularly like water, chickens (I refer to adult chickens only; baby chicks can drown very easily) are able to float like ducks and instinctively know how to swim. When a chicken gets in water, accidentally or otherwise, it will instinctively move its legs rapidly in circular cyclic movements and try to swim ashore as quickly as it can. On getting really close to a place where it has a chance of getting out of the water, it will likely try to use its wings to help lift itself out onto the nearby dry landing spot.
But, unlike ducks, chickens do not have ‘waterproof’ feathers and they become heavy when wet. Many birds have a tail gland, also called Uropygial gland or preen gland, on the back just cranial to the implanting of the tail feathers to waterproof their feathers, keep away parasites, produce vitamin D, and even attract mates. This gland is strongly developed in some water birds (e.g., duck). In other species of birds it is noticeably less well developed (e.g., chicken), and in some it is completely absent (e.g., the ostrich). Because chickens do not secrete the oil that ducks do, this means that, once they get sodden wet they will sink like a Titanic.
Chickens are much like dogs, cats and horses in that, while they are natural swimmers, their primary goal is to get out of the water as soon as possible.