…As A Wet Hen

Hens don’t like to get caught in the rain. Like most birds, they’re waterproof up to a point, but then they get soggy. Soggy is heavy and uncomfortable, a predator can snatch up a sodden bird, and damp leads to illness. So, chickens avoid getting wet. When it’s pouring my girls seek shelter under the rabbit hutch or in the coop; when it’s clear they’re immediately back outside. A hen will go out in a drizzle, but avoid real rain. Today was one of those days when the hens were in and out.If you’re not sure how hard it’s raining, just check where the chickens are. That is, look at everyone but the Polish hens, Tina and Siouxsie. It’s a well-known fact that Polish chickens have no common sense.

Late this afternoon the rain was coming down in buckets. I decided to close up the barns early. Most of the girls were inside, although a few were under the rabbit hutch staying dry. I shook some corn in a cup and they all came into the coop. I  counted. I was missing one. I found Tina outside, hunched in misery and drenched to the skin, her top-knot flattened and muddy. I scooped her up, brought her into the coop and toweled her dry. For good measure I trimmed off the longest feathers on her head. It’s still not a pretty picture.

Chickens aren’t known for their common-sense (why do you think it was a chicken who cried “the sky is falling!”) but the Polish hens make the others look like geniuses. This is one reason why I don’t recommend this breed to beginners. You have to take care of them when it rains. Their fancy feathers bobbing on their heads make them targets for pecking, and they can’t see to get away from the bullies. If you’re looking for easy-to-care for hens that lay lots of eggs forget about the Polish. But if you like silly, go ahead and get a couple. Just make sure you have a blow-dryer handy.


  1. I completely agree. Lola my Silver laced Polish is quite possibly the stupidest animal I have ever met. She has no concept of how hard it’s raining not even when she is completely soaked, she rarely stays with the flock (probably because she can’t see that they left already) and she’s the noisiest and chattiest bird in the flock.

    But like you said – she’s silly and soooooo much fun to watch. She lays about 4 eggs a week which is pretty good me thinks…

    • She sounds beautiful though. Do you have a pic posted anywhere we could see her?

  2. My Barnevelder Solo happily trots about in the heaviest rain imaginable, long after the others have gone back to bed or hidden under the hedge. She shakes like a dog occasionally but her feathers remain immaculate – I wonder if her high gloss when dry means a greater degree of waterproofing? She’s the shiniest of my birds.

  3. I have 5 silkies that like to stay out in the rain. They are definitely the less intelligent of all the chickens in the flock. They are just so darn beautiful.
    Terry, I really enjoy your web site. Thank you for sharing.

    • I don’t keep silkies anymore because I found them too fragile for the way I keep hens. One died from getting wet and chilled and I couldn’t bear to be responsible for that again! But they are gentle, sweet puff-balls.

  4. i never knew this about polish. thank goodness i didn’t get one. i’m not up for all that maintenance. glad you have them though so i can live vicariously, etc :)

  5. What a great picture. She looks like the inspiration for some of Camilla’s hats. Love that little feather hanging down on the side. Thanks for the warning, though. My first (beginner) flock won’t contain any Polish. :)

  6. Poor bedraggled Tina. Count your lucky stars that you have Terry to come to your rescue. As my grandmother said, “Pride must suffer.” I just looked at some pictures of silkies — mouth-dropping beautiful but can’t imagine anything more high maintenance.

  7. LOL. Terry your words are true, true, true!!! I don’t know what it is about Polish and the rain? The ones I’ve had over the years never came in out of the rain either. And if you don’t keep the top knot trimmed mud cakes on the feathers and they will just stand there paralized by the weight!!!
    I’ll never forget the day my Wrongway flew smack dab into a oak tree. The hens were free ranging and hawk approached, they all ran/flying/screaming for the hedge row and coop. Not Wrongway, she raised her head looked around for 10-15 seconds and then decided she better do what the rest were doing. I know she had no clue as to why, but she took flight and knocked her self silly when she hit the tree. The Polish are priceless in their own way.

  8. my one black sex-link has those shiny irridesent black feathers that shed the rain like a duck! She is always dry when the others get soaked. BUT she is also the hottest during the dry summer. Funny girls.

  9. I miss Little Blue. She hasn’t been on camera for awhile–or at least not whenever I check in. That pale blue cochin is a vision though. Can’t wait to find out what you’ve decided to name her.

  10. You’ve taken the shears to her fascinator!!!! Poor girl, she will be shunned by society.

  11. Idiotic yes, but with the luck fools get from the Gods. Otherwise how would they live so long and be so popular ?