Can chickens swim?

I find it very disturbing that no one seems to be able to answer this question for me. I did some research and was quite surprised at the controversy around this simpe question. I figured that if anyone would know, it would be the people here. So I ask again… Can chickens swim?

They’re certainly not designed for swimming, though they may be able to flop around in the water a bit before they got too waterlogged.

So the short answer is no, they can’t.

I don’t know, but it sure conjures up an amusing mental picture.

Yes they can swim. Throw a chicken into water and they will flap and kick their way to shore. Powered directed movement in water is swimming. Chickens can swim,

They aren’t graceful swimmers and they aren’t clear headed swimmers. They aren’t even good distance swimmers. But they sure as hell can swim at least 15 yards. I’ve seen it myself.

The old myth is that a chicken will absorb water into the feathers and sink, hence they can’t swim. That is probably true, it’s true of most birds. And if you leave a chicken in water for 15 minutes or so it might sink, but that doesn’t make them unable to swim, it just means they can’t live in the water. But neither can eagles.

What do these people who say that chickens can’t swim think happens when a chicken falls into the water? Does it calmly sit their until it drowns? Chickens can fly, and although they can’t launch form the water they simple act of fluttering and running propels them forwards.

It may be possible that some of the heavier breeds or maybe even silkies can’t swim, but I know that leghorns can swim.

“With God as my witness, I swear to you, I thought chickens could swim!”


I think the idea that chickens cannot swim arose from how awful they look in a bikini. Sorry, no cite.

Yeah, I think I parsed the original question as meaning “can chickens swim efficiently”–I didn’t mean that they would just lurch around without making any progress through the water.

I forget where I saw it, but I once watched a film about the wildlife around Vancouver BC. One of the shots showed a beautiful eagle swooping down on a fish…then missing and slamming into the water. Man, did that eagle look pissed off as it floundered through the water toward shore.

The key is the amount of natural oil on the feathers.
That’s why phosphate pollution kills waterfowl, it acts as a detergent to cut the oil of the feathers, they fill with water and the bird cannot fly. (Waterlogged birds still float, just as humans do, but like humans only the head sticks out of the water.)

Now you answer one for us, Hyzenthay. Can rabbits swim?

Great user name!

I am fairly certain they can, though I have never tested the theory out myself. They are mammals, and most mammals can swim, if only for a short distance and not very well.
As for the chickens, I thank you all for your responses. I see now the controversy was not really on whether or not chickens can swim, but the answers would vary considerably depending on what the speaker’s interpretation was of the term ‘swim’. So chickens can move through the water to some degree, and will not sink immediately while having no means to propell themselves. I assume this goes for most birds without webbed feet and not enough feather oil.

Yes, they can, but not more than about 50 yards. And the same chicken can’t do it twice in a row. Also they only seem to get about 5 to 10 yards if you put a little laundry soap on their feathers. And in rough weather they don’t seem to be able to do it at all.

So, who’s up for some barbecue?

Chickens aren’t a big fan of water,so there shouldn’t be a debate if they *can *swim. It’s only if they want to or not. They like to be inside when it rains and they refrain from standing by the side of the pool. It’s either the terrible looking swimsuit or the fear of being pushed in.

No barbeque with laundry soap, please.

How would you know such things, in particular the part about the soap? :confused:

Rabbits can swim surprisingly well.

And you’re right Hyzenthay. Very few waterbirds can swim any better than a chicken. They all do basically the same thing: they kick and flap until they reach shore. It’s not graceful but it’s all they’ve got.

To me not being able to swim means that if you place the animal in water it will drown. That’s not true of chickens. If you dropped a chicken in a swimming pool for example it would simply swim to shore and climb out. That is as much swimming ability as a lot of humans have, and no one says that humans can’t swim.

Oh, absolutely! My father and I were fishing on the Little Sioux River when he trapped a half-grown rabbit on the bank. We ‘surrounded’ him and when we got too close he jumped into the river and easily swam across, a distance of about 50’.

Ask Jimmy Carter if rabbits can swim.

In 249 BC, during the First Punic War, the Roman consul Appius Claudius Pulcher attacked a Carthaginian fleet at Drepanum. Before the battle began, though, he took the auspices (as any pious Roman would do). He released a coopfull of sacred chickens on the deck of his ship and scattered feed in front of them. No matter how the general enticed them, though, the chickens steadfastly refused to eat the feed – a terrible omen. Pulcher (the handsome), in a fit of pique, cried out “if you will not eat, then you shall drink!” and threw the sacred chickens overboard, where they all drowned.

Needless to say, the Romans lost the battle. :wally

Whoops. That was Publius Claudius Pulcher. :smack:

Come now HYZENTHLAY. Of course chickens can swim.

The ONLY reason they do not excell at the exercise is that throughout history they have been cooped up in mainly agricultural settings. Chickens had VERY little access to the best places to hone their skills at swimming.

The most attractive and safest places to learn and do well at swimming were only for the most affluent of birds such as ducks, geese, and swans!

To even suggest there may be reasons other than cultural and socio-economic deprivation that chickens can not swim as well as other birds borders on ornithologic racism and bigotry!

I for one am appalled!

The way I see it is this: You can of one of two things.

1)You can sit here and read people’s opinions and stories and continue to comtemplate this question, or
2) Go find a chicken and throw it into a decent sized body of water. Observe the chicken’s behavior.

I don’t know what it will do; I’m not an expert on chickens. I simply think it would be a fun way to get an answer to your question. :smiley: