How Do Chickens Sleep

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It is nighttime already, and maybe you are a new chicken owner that wants to know if the chickens you own sleep at nighttime, too. Do these animals ever sleep at night? Or if they ever sleep at all? You might have even checked on them from time to time, and are still left wondering, how do chickens sleep?

Chickens sleep in groups with a system to protect themselves. The head of the group taking the middle, closing both eyes, and going to sleep. The outer chickens will sleep with one eye open simultaneously shutting down the other side of their brain to keep a watchful eye out for predators.

Want to take a closer look at the fascinating sleeping habits of this animal? By the end of this article, you will be able to catch a glimpse of the chicken’s sleep or wake pattern and how they can make this behavior in odd ways!

How Do Chickens Sleep At Night

As you can probably already tell, chickens sleeping habits are quite unusual but are in fact a highly advanced, highly organized evolutionary designed to protect themselves from predators.

They can sleep on a perching roost with other chickens or even on their own standing in a field. The best thing for chickens is to mimic how they sleep in the wild, and that’s in groups on a perch- how do chickens sleep; let’s take a closer look.

Chickens Sleep In A Roost

Chickens sleep in a roost, which is a place where chickens will come together to rest or sleep. Inside will be a perch above the ground where they will “perch” on to sleep. A roost is NOT a nesting box, most people confuse the two.

Chickens Sleep In A Roost

To most chicken owners and breeders, this method of sleeping is one of the most hygienic ways of securing the animal from fatal diseases caused by a bacterial or parasitic infestation. When chickens are in a high roost perch, they would have a low possibility of direct contact with their feces as they would be standing high up in the ground.

Chickens still release stools while sleeping. So, some people would train this bird to sit on a perch so for them to not be sitting on their dirt overnight.

Note: There could be some cases where owners provide a wooden perch for their chickens, but the animal seems not to be using it at all. If you are experiencing this as an owner, you better check out if there is something bothersome in the perch you provided. Things that could be irritating your chicken are its texture, thickness or thinness, or just its distance from the ground.

The Warmth Of A Nest Box

If Chickens, or more likely chicks, go back to the nesting box for 40 winks, you will need to discourage this as this is not-so-healthy for the animal.

Of course, the nest offers warmth for the long, cold, or breezy night, but as this animal poops even during sleep, expect that they will be covered in dirt and odor the next day!

They should be encouraged to use their perch and not sleep in their nesting box.

To know more on how many nesting boxes per chicken then check out that article for all your answers

Chickens Sleep Close To Other Chickens

This could be one of the interesting things that some chickens do during sleep. If you own many chickens, you might even see this ‘huddling’ sometimes, and it just looks lovely!

Chickens Sleep In A Roost in a tree

Chickens will huddle together on a roost for a few reasons:

  • The warmth of the other chickens
  • To feel safe in their huddle
  • To protect themselves from predators

Chickens Tuck Their Heads Under Their Wing To Sleep

As strange as this may seem, this is normal behavior for chickens, sometimes they will tuck their heads under their wing to help them rest and keep warm while they sleep at night.

They may also show this behavior for a mid-day nap which is also normal but you will need to keep an eye if this is continuous behavior throughout the day – If you notice this is more than just a nap in the afternoon and at night then you may want to consult a vet.

Chickens Can Sleep Standing Still

Hens prefer to be roosting on higher perches rather than lower ones according to the antipredator hypothesis talked about in ScienceDirect. Although both roosting on perches and sleep standing might seem similar, they are different.

Being perched high is a safer more comfortable and natural sleeping environment whereas sleep standing doesn’t have the same benefits – Although, chickens will still sleep standing up, usually until they lose balance and topple over.

Note: Chickens naturally rest and sleep most of the time if they are living in dimmer abodes. The animal does not see well in the dark, making them do less activity. They would rather stay still in unlit places!

How Long Do Chickens Sleep?

There are no specific hours that a chicken follows for them to have a good sleep. They would turn to sleep immediately once it is getting dark outside. Changes in season happen to affect this sleeping pattern. For example, if there are more long nights than days, then it only means that they are getting more shut eyes. In wintertime, chickens get to sleep more.

It’s said that chickens need at least 8 hours of sleep, but depending on the breed and the lighing they may sleep for much longer.

To help Chickens and indeed, baby chicks sleep better red infrared head bulbs (Amazon link) are great for adding extra heat and the red color helps deter chicks from pecking each other.

chicks with read heat light

Where Do Chickens Sleep

In the wild, chickens are found to be sleeping high in tree branches and roosting there, too. If you know people who are breeding or keeping chickens in your local areas, you would probably have seen more of them living outside the owner’s home than indoors.

Remember that as long as a place is safe and secure from predators and can provide health and other essential needs, a chicken can thrive wherever you place them to live.

captive chickens usually will sleep on a roosting perch which are inside the coop. The idea of balancing on a perch to get some shut-eye seems strange for most people but for bird owners, this is the perfectly natural way for chickens and birds to sleep.

If you are after a roosting perch for your chickens (Amazon link) then this is a well-built one idea for smaller chickens. When buying you need to consider how well made they are, as most are poorly constructed.

The placement of a roosting perch, a 1.5 to 3 feet high from the ground is suitable already for healthy adult chickens. Remember that not all chickens will be able to reach higher perches, too. Just like humans, if you have young, old, or disabled chickens, they might require lower perches of up to 3 inches high from the ground.

Do Chickens Sleep With Their Eyes Open

Chickens are known to sleep with one eye closed and the other open. They do this to stay aware of their surroundings and be easily awakened when some predator comes approaching quickly with the chicken’s body that is not so combative at all; being half-awake while sleeping is a real advantage for them, especially that they are vulnerable all the time.

This is amazingly achieved by allowing one half of their brain to sleep while the other half can function and therefore, operating the one open eye looking for danger.

Final Words

So, how do chickens sleep? Chickens sleep quite differently compared to other land animals, which is quite fascinating. Hopefully, this article has satisfied your curiosity and answered all your questions relating to the topic.

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