Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chickens can't swim, backyard water safety

Did you know that chickens can't swim? That's one of those things you never really have to think about though. I was looking at Summer pictures today and came across some pics of the pond in my yard. It's now just a decorative fish pond, but it didn't start that way. It started as a goose pond. About 2 years later it became a duck pond. Another year later and we were done with waterfowl completely! The original goose house, now the duck house soon became the d'Uccle house. The fence was moved to the other side of the pond to remove it from the enclosure. The banty's moved in and all was well for a long time. Or so I thought. I chronicled the transformation from goose pool to fish pond on my other blog.

chickens and water

After awhile I learned that chickens can't swim. AT ALL. It's not like I ever thought they could, I just didn't think they absolutely couldn't! It was a very painful lesson. Lets go back to when the pond looked like this: 


backyard chickens water safety

That's deer netting across the top of it. It worked perfectly all spring and summer. Most of the frogs couldn't get through it which made it easy to scoop them out every day. The netting kept the frogs from eating the comets and Shubunkin's I had populated the pond with also. The whole time that netting was on I didn't see one wet chicken. The neighbors dog fell in, but that's another story all together!
When fall came along I finally removed the netting because of the leaves. You'd think the net would have made it easier to clean. Wrong! I don't have the foggiest clue how so many leaves got under that net but it was a daily struggle to keep them out. Finally I just took it off. Inside the pond, I built up the sides with rocks up to the edges. There were lots of plants and things to stand on....plus the chickens had never ventured into the pond before. I thought it would be ok. I thought if they fell in they could get back out....again, I was wrong. 


fish pond plants

The first one we lost was a chick. Even with the netting, I doubt she would have made it so I didn't worry yet. Accidents do happen. Then a 6 week old pullet was found floating. I put the net back on, but somehow it got pulled off and her brother met the same fate. Plenty to stand on in the water. They're checked frequently while they're out....and we were out there working that day, he wasn't in that water long. They just don't stand a chance when they get wet. Lesson learned. This year the net stays on. 

You know how the chicken talk game goes, right? I tell a chicken story and everyone else shares theirs. During the last few months I've head stories of full size chickens drowning in buckets. Banty's drowning in dishpans left out to collect rainwater. Chicks drowning in overturned garbage can lids....and adult water bowls they shouldn't have even been able to reach! Chickens are naturally curious and some aren't terribly clever. They get themselves into crazy situations and when water is involved, they often don't make it. Take a look around your yard. Empty out buckets, pans, old planters, tires, wheelbarrows...anything and everything that can hold any depth of water. Or place a screen above it (like for water collection). It'll ony take a few minutes of your time and it may just save one of your feathered friends!   

 ~L

2 comments:

  1. We have a small pond on our land. The chickens always go to it for a drink. We've never lost one. We've even had one try to stretch her wings and fly over it.... she made it to the middle of the pond and then swam out. There's no way we can cover it or put a fence around it because of how it's situated on our land.... I hope the chickens keep passing along the knowledge to stay out of the water.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Smart chickens! Glad she could swim out.
      Thanks for stopping by!

      ~l

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