Some people are extremely frightened of thunder and lighting, and it’s quite normal for animals to be afraid as well.
So are chickens scared of thunder and lighting? Yes! chickens will get scared of thunder and lightning because it is still new to them. Loud noises easily startle them. But, over time, when they get used to it, especially if you live in a place that’s prone to thunderstorms.
As said, animals that aren’t used loud noises, will be scared when they hear loud thunderstorms for the first time. If you’re new to raising skittish chickens, it’s important to understand the nature of chickens and thunderstorms for you to understand more about your poultry.
Are Chickens Afraid of Thunderstorms?
If you have ever experienced a thunderstorm yourself when you were younger, you would know what it feels like to be in the shoes (or feet) of your younger animals when they too are experiencing their first thunderstorm.
Like us, they will feel anxious and scared, especially, if they do not have some place safe to retreat to get out of the rain.
Why Chickens Are Scared of Thunder and Lightning?
Birds don’t understand what thunderstorms are, it’s perfectly natural for them to be afraid of things that they cannot comprehend. Younger chicks are more likely to be scared of the loud noises because they’ve never experienced it before.
Older chickens can still be anxious, especially, if they don’t have any where to hide or seek shelter from the rain wind and rain.
The loud noises and the strong winds can actually make them feel afraid and anxious, especially, if they haven’t experienced it before.
Younger Chickens Are Easier to Startle
You will actually notice that, your young free range chickens may not make an effort to get out of the rain. They will most likely start looking for insects and bugs that come out when it rains.
Meanwhile, the older ones will immediately retreat to their coop to find shelter from the rain.
How Chickens React to The Weather
As soon as the first thunder cracks, younger chickens can actually look hilarious when they run in sync towards the nearest shelter they could find.
This usually happens when the younger chickens haven’t experienced thunderstorms in the past. They don’t know how to act, but they will eventually learn from the rest of the flock.
Meanwhile, you will notice that the older chickens have already made the necessary steps that could help protect them from a possible thunderstorm and are already hidden in their coops for shelter.
This doesn’t mean that the older hens are afraid of the thunder. It’s just they are older and wiser and know to seek shelter before the storm gets worse.
Do Chickens Get Used to Thunderstorms?
Over time and especially if you live in a state or region that is quite prone to thunderstorms, your chickens will probably get used to the loud noises made by frequent thunders.
This is true when you actually keep them in a coop that makes them feel safe whenever there is a thunderstorm.
Once they realize the coop will keep them safe from lighting, thunderstorms, and high winds, young chicks will understand that it’s a natural occurrence.
That’s why older chickens don’t necessarily react to even the loudest thunderstorms. Unless the sound is too sudden and too loud to the point that they would even startle humans.
As long as your chickens are kept safe throughout their experiences with thunderstorms, they will begin to realize that they shouldn’t be afraid of them.
That’s why it is important to make sure that you provide your chickens with the shelter they need to keep themselves safe from thunderstorms. Eventually, you’ll notice they won’t mind the thunderstorms at all.
Are Chickens Afraid of Lightning?
Similar to how chickens can get scared by the loud noises made by thunder, they can also get scared from the flashes of light made by lightning.
However, going back to age, lighting will most likely affect the younger ones that have never experienced it before.
A bad lighting storm can startle anyone, especially, if it is striking near them.
In short, lightning can potentially scare your chickens. Your older chickens have likely experienced it before and will teach your younger ones where and when to hide.
Can Chickens Die From Thunderstorms?
Chickens will not die from thunderstorms. There are no studies online that show loud thunderstorms or noises have ever killed a chicken.
However, there are some factors that need to be discussed when we talk about a chicken’s health and safety in the middle of a thunderstorm.
Strictly speaking, a thunderstorm itself won’t be able to kill a chicken unless you are negligent enough that you didn’t think of contingency plans that could help protect them from a storm.
How Chickens Can Die In A Thunderstorm
Chickens can easily die from a lot of factors caused by a thunderstorm if you weren’t too careful at the start. This can be because their shelter wasn’t good enough or because you forgot to herd them back into their coop before the storm started.
In a power outage, the incubators will stop working and can kill the chicks that are still in their eggs.
Other than that, your chickens should be fine as long as you are not too neglectful when a storm is brewing.
Do Chickens Need Shelter From Thunderstorms?
As to whether or not chickens need shelter from thunderstorms, of course they do! Just like we shelter ourselves from storms by hiding in our houses or by staying under rock caves whenever we are in the mountains.
Your chickens need a safe haven when there is bad whether.
Make Sure To Give Your Chickens Shelter
Make sure your chickens shelter can withstand the strong hurricane winds of any thunderstorm.
If not, make sure you strengthen their shelter to avoid the wind from damaging their shelter and killing your chickens.
Some chicken owners keep the chickens in their own houses or even in the garage to keep them safe during a thunderstorm.
In other words, chickens do need shelter in the middle of a thunderstorm or even when it is just raining. Make sure that all of your birds are in their coop before the rain starts, so they don’t get lost and can’t find their way home.
If the thunderstorm turns into a strong hurricane, it might be best to keep your chickens in a more solid structure such as your own house or in the garage.
Like us, chickens get scared of thunder and lightning and should have a safe place they can retreat to before the rain starts. It will take time for the young chicks to learn where to hide, but will eventually follow the older ones to safety.
Treat your chickens the same way you would your household pets and your kids when there is a thunderstorm. You wouldn’t want your pets and your kids running around outside in the middle of a storm, would you?
References and Further Reading
VJP Poultry – Rain, Chickens and Muddy Runs
Backyard Chicken Coops – Step-by-Step Guide to Protecting Your Chickens From a Storm