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How Do Chickens Sleep?



Chickens are some of the most fascinating birds to watch. Their beautiful plumage, quirky personalities and pecking order are intriguing. From them foraging for snacks to grooming themselves, chickens are always busy. They rest from time to time throughout the day and are great sleepers at night!

 

I don’t have an automatic door on our coop. I tried one once, and a couple of holdouts got locked out of the coop all night. I decided then that I prefer to “tuck them in” at night. I can do headcounts and ensure everyone safely makes it in for the evening.


Have you ever noticed that chickens will put themselves into the coop at dusk? This is because chickens have excellent vision during the day but can’t see a thing in the dark. This is also a good reminder that when you start with baby chicks, you must provide a small light 24/7. Baby chicks sleep a lot but also eat and drink a lot. Food and water are essential to their survival in the first weeks of life. And a huge part of this is that they’re able to see it to find it!

 

How Do Chickens Sleep?

Coco getting some good sleep in the safety of my arms.

 

Where Do Chickens Like to Sleep?

From the chick stage, chickens love to roost. While I do have chickens that prefer to bed down in the bedding or one that loves to sleep on a shelf (she’s special haha), most of my chickens love to roost for the night. This is their instinct.


In the wild, birds of all kinds roost as high as possible to avoid predators. I use 2x12’s for our roosting bars. In the winter, this is really important. Chickens will cover their feet with warm feathers, preventing their toes from getting frostbite. This is a bit easier if they have a flatter roosting bar. My flock races to see who can get to the top bar first. Haha! The latecomers get the next couple of lower rows.


Chickens are social creatures, and their sleeping habits reflect this. At night, chickens often huddle together, forming a tight-knit group. This behavior provides warmth and fosters a sense of security within the flock. They like being close to their flock members and usually have their favorite chickens they roost by.


Ensuring your chickens have a safe and secure environment to roost and huddle at night is crucial for their well-being. A sturdy, predator-proof coop or shelter with ample roosting space is essential!

 

How Do Chickens Sleep?

Reba relaxing in the sunshine.

 

How Do Chickens Sleep?

Like humans and many other animals, chickens experience rapid eye movement (REM), and non-REM sleep. During REM sleep, chickens may exhibit twitching movements and even vocalizations, suggesting they may dream!


Chickens also sleep with one eye open to watch for predators. Each eye is connected to the opposite side of the brain. So, one half of their brain can sleep while the other half is awake and aware of their surroundings. Isn’t that neat?!


During the day, chickens often enjoy short naps, but they truly settle in for a good night's sleep once the sun sets. They should snooze from dusk till dawn, aiming for about 8 hours of sleep a night, much like us humans! Plus, just as our sleep can change with the seasons, chickens' sleep habits may also shift depending on the time of year.


Factors such as light, noise and temperature can impact their ability to rest effectively. In nature, chickens synchronize their sleep-wake cycles with sunrise and sunset. In captivity, artificial lighting may disrupt this natural rhythm and impact their sleep quality.

 

How Do Chickens Sleep?

Sid the rooster, showing his sensitive side. He loved to cuddle!

 

The joy of spending time with your flock is priceless! The next time you find yourself in the yard with your chickens, and they're sleeping with one eye open, you might think twice about slipping away. I have to be really quick in order to escape their follow-the-leader routine! It's all part of their charm!

 

Until next time,

 

–The Wing Lady

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