Why chickens don’t come in out of the rain August 12, 2013

Do your chickens have enough sense to come in out of the rain? Probably not. Actually, that your flock would “come in out of the rain” is not necessarily sensible behavior… not for chickens. A rainy day can be a good day for a chicken to forage more widely than normal. On overcast days, the extra cloud cover can provide a little additional camouflage from flying predators. To chickens, rain and fog are opportunities!

come in out of the rain before the storm

Chickens will come in out of the rain—usually—if it’s a thunderstorm. However, they sure like to push it. This photo shows them shortly before our rooster herded the girls into the coop before the derecho hit last year.

On foggy mornings or rainy days, my flock scatters across the top of the ridge… but when it’s bright and clear, they stay closer to each other as well as to physical cover like trees or shrubs. What I find interesting is that this is instinct; obviously, it’s not the sort of thing that an individual chicken reasons out by way of math. They’re smart… but not that smart. They don’t judge how much visibility has been reduced by weather conditions, and then add that distance to their safe foraging range calculations. They just know.

Bunny the Brahma

A red-tailed hawk leaves Charleston at 5:30 am and another leaves Morgantown at 6am. It is raining. They are both traveling at 121 miles per hour. What time do they… oh, look! A moth!

In addition, there’s not always a need to come in out of the rain to stay dry because the rain isn’t something that necessarily gets them wet, either. The rain will eventually get through, but your chickens’ water repellent feathers do give them a bit of a grace period.

Their plumage protects them for a time from actually getting wet to the skin in the rain, like an oilcloth slicker, but for chickens. The tighter feathered the bird, the more rain will simply bead off. They have nothing on ducks… but my Rhode Island Reds and Ameraucanas bear a lot of water before their feathers start to get wet. Faverolles, with their fluffy, loose feathering, tend to get wet much earlier.

What breeds do well in the rain in your neck of the woods?

10 Comments
Stevee Salazar August 10th, 2013

My girls love the rain! Not much I can do to encourage them to stay in the coop if it’s raining. We had a couple days of steady rain about 2 months ago and my chickens started getting cold symptoms shortly after… I naturally blamed it on the bad weather… it was a bummer to see them all under the weather, let alone having to toss about 14 eggs everyday for 10 days that they were on antibiotics, plus the extra 10 days after. I didn’t buy grocery store eggs during that time… thanks to other back yard chicken owners & craigslist!!

Jenn August 13th, 2013

Our dual-purpose birds do well in the rain, which is good considering we’re in WA State. I’ll never again get a banty cochin, as their short, fluffy, feathered legs wick the moisture right up to their bodies. Poor little Tribble was miserable in the rain and constantly had mites no matter how much we tried to prevent them.

George Castonguay August 13th, 2013

My older flock will hide under cover during the really heavy rain but the new ones have not quite figured it out yet. Wet silkies look pretty funny.

Sharon August 13th, 2013

Mine have a trap for over them and my girl have two boy that HATE THE RAIN. Angelo rules the roost and Toby just follows. The bad part is Angelo is a turkey. but my hen love him like he was a rooster. When it starts to rain he chases them all under the tarp or into the house and makes sure he sits in the door way so no one but his butt gets wet.

Faith August 13th, 2013

All of my chickens loved the rain, my wyandottes, gold comets, my giant Cochins. If it rained…they were outside no matter how hard it came down. They seemed so refreshed. The only chickens I had that didn’t like rain were my buff black tailed Japanese bantams but they thought they were human.

Debra September 8th, 2013

I have barred rocks and an Australorpe and none go to their coop to get out of bad, sometimes really bad weather. They free range my backyard but have access to a very roomy, dry coop and we’ll see them come to the back door, wet and shaking dry like a dog after huge downpours, thunder and lightening. They may take cover under bushes but that’s about it.

[…] don’t necessarily go inside when it rains–and as we’ve discussed, it’s not because they’re not smart enough. They’re smart! They just know that […]

Shirley December 7th, 2016

I have 7 assorted hens and they are all cold hardy breeds as we live in North Eastern WA state close to Canada. I call my hens Diva Chicks because they are not only beautiful but spoiled. We get a lot of rain in the fall and winter and I noticed that while my diva chicks were experiencing their first season of rain that they’d be soaked before they would ever have a mind to come into the dry coop. They would all gather in a line in a very small and barely covered area and they looked like they were waiting for the bus to arrive! Then I had a brilliant idea. I created what I now call the Mall for my divas and they love it.

The Mall consist of 4 large and tall plastic storage bins and a wood pallet. So imagine, if you will each one of these bins is flipped upside down so the open part is on the dirt. Then on two of the bins I cut doors on one end and on the other two bins I cut a door on the side. Now I arranged the bins in a large square and used the wood pallet over the top of the bins to create a ceiling. I covered the top part from warping by adding and stapling thick tarp and the inside of this mall has the bins arranged so the divas can go on from any direction and if it’s raining or snowing they can go inside and be dry but it still feels like they aRe outside. I also added a 4×4 four foot piece of wood on the ground inside the mall so they can perch if they like or walk around and be outside. It be dry. My divas love it and it gives me much pleasure to see them enjoying it. They run back into the chicken house just long enough to lay their eggs and then they come back out and go back to the Mall…lol!!

Chicken lover December 19th, 2017

Actually chickens are not waterproof. If they are rained on enough their feathers can and will become wet and hold water. It’s doesn’t take long or much rain either for them to become drenched. Their skin can and does get wet. If it’s a light sprinkle they would be ok but normal rain to heavy rain will drench them and cause their body temperature to drop. However if the weather is warm they likely won’t mind it much.

Lissa December 21st, 2017

Yes, they are water repellent, not water proof. As to how long it takes, it depends on the breed a bit. Tighter feathering repels more water. Loose feathering (such as with Faverolles) gets wet more quickly.

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