Why Do Chickens Dig Holes

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Chickens are interesting animals and their behaviour can at times be curious, to say the least. Although their behaviour might seem odd, there is always a reason behind everything they do. One of the seemingly strange things that chickens do all the time is digging holes. But why do chickens dig holes?

Chickens will dig holes for a few reasons. The main reason will be because they are making a dust bath to clean themselves in. The other reasons are when they are digging for food like insects. There are also less common reasons like they could be trying to escape or trying to make a nest.

It is fairly normal for chickens to dig holes, but it should not become a problem. If it becomes a problem then there might be a way you can solve it to make sure your chickens are happy. The rest of this article will look at why do chickens dig holes.

What Does It Mean If A Chicken Is Digging A Hole

It is common to see holes that have been dug in the chicken coop. There are a few different reasons as to why chickens dig holes and it could mean any one of a few things, as mentioned above.

The first and most common meaning behind your chickens digging holes is to create dust baths. Chickens, as well as many other animals, take dust baths to clean themselves. If you are not familiar with dust baths then it might seem odd, but animals actually keep themselves clean by doing it. Dust baths also keep chicken cool as well as prevent parasites such as fleas, ticks and mites.

chickens sitting in hole

Chickens digging holes could also mean that there are insects under the ground that they are trying to eat. Many times chickens see a worm or an insect go underground and then they will hunt and scavenge for it. The holes from scavenging are small and you can see the scratches. The holes look very different from holes for dust baths.

If it is not one of these two reasons then it can also be that the chickens are trying to make a nest. This is not so common because normally they have plenty of roosting space in the coop where they get closed in at night. If there is not sufficient roosting space then chickens might dig holes to make a nest to roost.

Is It Normal For Chickens To Dig Holes

It is perfectly normal for chickens to dig holes. All chickens dig holes to take dust baths and also when they are scavenging for insects. When chickens are digging holes because they want to escape or because they do not have a nest – this is not normal and it should be addressed.

As discussed above, chickens digging holes for dust baths and chickens digging holes to find food is very normal behaviour. The not so normal behaviour is when they dig holes to lay eggs in or when they dig holes because they want to escape.

chickens digging in a hole

How would you know the difference between the holes? You can see by observing. Dust bath holes have a particular look and they get used over and over again.

Scavenging holes will be small and they can have scratch marks from digging. Holes made for nesting you will see that the chicken is laying eggs in the hole.

When it comes to escaping, this is harder to identify but probably the most important, because when chickens are trying to escape that means that there is something seriously wrong and you need to have a good look at why your chickens are behaving in this way.

Why Is My Chicken Digging A Hole To Lay In

Chickens are birds and birds make nests to lay their eggs in. This is a perfectly normal phenomenon out in nature, but not so much in a chicken coop. In the coop, you normally want to make a roosting area where the hens can lay their eggs at night. This roosting area will then be closed at night to keep the chickens safe.

When there is not enough space in the roosting area or if you don’t close the chickens in at night they might dig holes outside to lay in. This is their natural tendency. You might want to look at improving the coop though because outside the chickens are vulnerable to predators.

There are also certain breeds of chicken that will always want to dig a hole to lay in. This is also a contributing factor.

How Do I Stop My Chickens From Digging Holes

There is no real way to stop chickens from digging holes. It is a very instinctive activity for them so getting them to stop would be impossible. You can rather try to manage where they dig and to what degree they are able to dig.

If you have gardens then you might want to stop your chickens from digging up the entire garden. In this case, you could put a fence around your garden to keep the chickens out. You could also plant things that the chickens don’t like and that will also stop them from digging in a certain area.

Do Chickens Dig Under Fences

Chickens do dig under fences sometimes. The reason for this is that they are trying to escape which means they are not happy in their coop. It could also mean that they see things on the outside that they want to get to. Most likely they will give up before they can reach the other side, but it will mean that the fenced area has been weakened.

Chickens also dig under fences because many times the soil there has been worked on and is now softer. They like the softer soil because it is easier to dig there so they will keep digging there every time. This can pose a problem because it weakens the fence and it makes it more possible that predators can get into the coop.


We looked at; why do chickens dig holes? Chickens will dig holes for a few reasons. The main reason is that they are making a dust bath to clean themselves in. Another reason is when they are digging for food like insects. There are also less common reasons, like trying to escape or trying to make a nest. If you have a chicken and it starts digging a hole, there’s no need to worry – it’s just doing what comes naturally!

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