Wondering how do chickens sleep in such uncomfortable looking positions? And how many hours do they sleep each day?
Chickens have some interesting sleeping habits. Both in the number of hours they sleep, and the positions and places they choose to sleep.
Here’s a closer look at the sleeping habits of chickens and chicks:
Do Chickens Sleep Through the Night?
Yes, chickens do sleep through the night.
Chickens typically sleep from dusk till dawn and follow this pattern whatever time dusk and dawn are where you live.
They will wake if disturbed of course. Some chickens are definitely heavier slee[ers than others. I’ve had some chickens that would literally wake and stir at the slightest sound, while others will happily sleep through a mild storm.
A lot of chickens will take a nap during the day too, but this will only be a light sleep. Evolution has taught them to be cautious sleeping during the day due to predators, so don’t be surprised if you startle them.
How Many Hours Do Chickens Sleep?
Chickens don’t sleep for a set number of hours per night, rather they will sleep while it’s dark.
This means they sleep a lot longer in the winter months and less during the summer when there are more light hours.
Baby chicks and older chickens are an exception, much like us. Babies and the elderly will nap more in the day and sleep more hours in a 24-hour period.
How Do Chickens Sleep - What Positions Do They Choose?
Chickens can and will sleep in a number of positions. Each position tells you something about how they’re feeling, too.
Some of the sleeping positions I’ve seen my chicks sleeping in includes:
- On their roosting perch - this is the most common sleeping position
- In their nesting box - more on this later
- Huddled together on the floor of their coop
- Curled up in a ball
- Standing up - yes, chickens actually sleep standing up sometimes
The one consistent factor is that chickens like somewhere high up to sleep. The higher up they are, the safer they feel. This is a behavior that can be tied back to surviving in the wild, and they are comfortable sleeping on a perch - even if it doesn’t look comfortable to us.
Do Chickens Need a Roost Perch?
If you’re new to keeping chickens you will have either noticed coops have a perch for chickens to sleep on or been advised to provide one.
Roosting perches or roosting bars as they are also called are basically replicating a branch of a tree. So, just as a wild chicken would choose to sleep on, backyard chickens sleep on perches for the same effect.
Having a perch is one of the essential features of a coop. So, yes you do need a roosting perch for your chooks.
Why Do Chickens Sleep in Their Nest Boxes?
One of the more annoying things backyard chickens owners face is finding their chickens sleeping in their nest boxes.
Chickens poop a lot overnight, so the last thing you want is them spending 8-10 hours sleeping in their nesting area. That would mean a lot of messy cleaning up work for you.
If this is an issue you’ve faced, it’s likely to be due to one or more of the following reasons:
Their Perch Is Not High Enough
Chickens will find the highest - or a combination of the highest and most comfortable - place to sleep at night.
If their nesting boxes are higher than their perch, they will almost certainly choose their nesting boxes. Try raising their perch or lowering their nesting boxes, whichever is the easiest for you to do.
Wrong Type of Roosting Bar
In my experience, chickens aren’t particularly fussy when it comes to their roosting bar. But, you can’t rule out that there might be something about the bar that’s putting them off.
Ask around and do some research online to see what kind of bars are popular, and what type you have. It might be that it’s too big or too small, or the texture isn’t right. Moving it up higher as mentioned in the last point might even resolve the issue.
Their Coop Is Not Clean Enough
As I mentioned above, chickens poop a lot overnight as I’m sure you’re well aware. Unfortunately, it’s part of our jobs to make sure we keep their coops nice and clean. This means keeping their perch and the floor below clean and the coop well ventilated.
Honestly, it’s not that hard to keep a coop nice and clean. Don’t let me put you off if you’re thinking about keeping backyard chickens for the first time. They’re no more effort than other household pets, and maybe I’m a bit biased but I think they’re much more rewarding.
In Summary - How Do Chickens Sleep?
Roosting is the most natural way for chickens to sleep. Personally, I love seeing my chickens roosting together at night on their roosting bar, I know they’re happy and getting a good night’s sleep.
It’s interesting to stick your head into their coop at night and see what’s going on. There’s a pecking order rank that determines which chickens get the best sleeping spots, so you can get a good idea of who’s ruling the roost.
The bottom line is that your chickens should be sleeping while it’s dark and waking as soon as the first light hits. If they’re not sleeping well throughout the night, you need to find out what’s bothering them.
Enjoyed reading about chicken's sleeping habits? You'll like - What determines chicken egg color?