Why Does My Baby Chick Lay On Its Side?

Raising baby chicks is a challenge for most chicken keepers since these little creatures can do strange things that keep worrying their owners. One of the baby chick’s strange and worrying behaviors is lying on its side.

Although baby chicks can lay on their side while sunbathing, the behavior can be problematic when your chicks start lying on their side for long.

Reasons Why Baby Chicks Lay On Their Side

Baby chicks can lay on their side for several reasons. As a chicken keeper, you need to understand why your little creatures lie on their side. Check these possible reasons for why your chicks are lying on their side.

– Coccidiosis Disease

According to multiple chicken keepers and chicken forums, coccidiosis is the leading killer of baby chicks. While this intestinal disease can kill chickens irrespective of their age, baby chicks are the biggest casualties since their immune system can withstand the deadly disease. The parasite that causes coccidiosis disease attaches itself to baby chicks’ intestinal lining.

The parasitic disease can destroy your baby chicks’ intestinal lining upon attaching itself to their intestinal lining. The baby chicks will experience severe pain in the process, prompting them to lay on their side as the parasite wreaks havoc on their intestinal linings.

Chicken keepers can tell when their birds are lying on their side due to the coccidiosis disease since their chicks’ droppings will have traces of blood. The chicks will also have frequent diarrhea and further show apparent signs of weakness.

Luckily, chicken keepers can prevent coccidiosis, ultimately stopping their chicks from lying on their side due to this deadly intestinal disease. Below are some coccidiosis measures to put in place to help your baby chicks lay upright rather than on their side.

  • Keep your baby chicks’ feeding area completely dry and clean
  • Keep your chicks’ brooders clean and dry
  • Provide your chicks with clean, freshwater
  • Enhance your chicks’ natural immunity
  • Emulate good biosecurity

– Vitamin Deficiency

Apart from illnesses such as coccidiosis, vitamin deficiency is also a possible cause of chicks lying on their side.

Vitamin E

Encephalomalacia, which arises from an acute vitamin E deficiency, makes chicks lay on their side. Vitamin E deficiency in chicks can also lead to neurological damage. Apart from lying on the side, the other symptoms of acute vitamin E deficiency in chicks include walking in circles, tremors, head shaking, and sudden loss of balance.

Your chicks could be lying on their side because of vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A deficiency symptoms that make it difficult for chicks to lay properly include weakness and lethargy. Newly-hatched chicks can develop vitamin A deficiency seven days after hatching.

Besides lying on their side, chicks can get walking problems due to vitamin A deficiency. Some natural sources of vitamin A for baby chicks that can help your little birds lay upright include crushed dandelion greens, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, and peas.

If you can’t get enough vitamin A for your baby chicks from natural sources, try purchasing vitamin A supplements from a poultry store to solve your birds’ sleeping and walking problems.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 deficiency is also responsible for making baby chicks lay on their side. Because vitamin B12 deficiency causes poor bone quality in poultry, including chickens and chicks. Chicks can neither stand nor sit upright due to developing weak bones due to vitamin B12 deficiency.

Besides making baby chicks lay on their side, vitamin B12 deficiency also makes chicks subject to severe health issues such as fatty liver and anemia. It also increases the risk of your baby chicks getting heart disease.

Supplementing your chicks’ diet with vitamin B12 supplements is prudent to stop them from lying on their side due to a vitamin B12 deficiency. Fish meal is a rich source of vitamin B12 for baby chicks.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is perhaps the major vitamin deficiency that makes baby chicks lay on their side. It causes poor bone development in baby chicks. Furthermore, vitamin D deficiency causes rickets, making it impossible for your baby chicks to lay accordingly.

In addition, baby chicks can experience walking problems due to vitamin D deficiency. Baby chicks with no exposure to sunlight are at risk of experiencing vitamin D deficiency. Blend the chick feed with natural vitamin D-rich foods to help them lay properly other than on their side due to vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin B2

Riboflavin (vitamin B2) deficiency also makes newly-hatched baby chicks lay on their side. A deficiency in this essential vitamin makes baby chicks develop curled toes. Furthermore, riboflavin deficiency makes chicks lay down while extending their legs.

Chicks grappling with riboflavin deficiency are also lethargic and have walking problems. Some of the natural sources of riboflavin to add to your chicks’ regular diet include beet greens, spinach, and soybeans. Some chicken keepers prefer purchasing riboflavin supplements from stores for their baby chicks.

Few baby chicks tend to lay on their side because of vitamin B6 deficiency. Chicks with vitamin B6 deficiency usually lay on their side while extending their legs and wings. Acute vitamin B6 deficiency can affect your chicks’ protein metabolism, making your chicks weak and unable to stand, walk and sleep accordingly.

Fortunately, chicken keepers can stop their little birds from lying on their side because of vitamin B6 deficiency by introducing natural ingredients to their chicks’ diet. These natural vitamin B6-rich sources include beet greens, spinach, eggs, and asparagus.

– Respiratory Disease

Respiratory disease is the other major factor that makes baby chicks lay on their side. Chronic respiratory disease isn’t only fatal. It can also remain in your baby chicks’ immune systems for the rest of their lifetime. Furthermore, it makes health issues re-occur from time to time, further exposing your little birds to many health conditions in the future.

Respiratory disease weakens your baby chicks, hindering them from lying properly while taking a rest or roosting. Furthermore, respiratory disease suppresses your chicks’ respiratory systems, prompting the birds to lay on their side as they attempt to breathe.

Multiple circumstances can lead to respiratory disease in your baby chicks. Some of these circumstances include dust, fine residue, and extreme temperatures. Poor ventilation in the coop can also expose baby chicks to respiratory disease. Be on the lookout for some notable symptoms of respiratory illness in chicks, such as sneezing, nasal discharge, and coughing.

– Injury

Baby chicks can lay on their side due to injury. For instance, these little creatures can lay on their sides when one of their legs or wings is injured. Injuries aren’t only painful but also uncomfortable for chickens. Baby chicks with foot injuries can’t lie properly since the pain in their feet can allow them to lie down as usual. Instead, such chicks will lay on their side to avoid pain.

Injuries in baby chicks could be due to multiple factors. For instance, chicks can sustain serious injuries after encountering a predator attack. Predators usually attack backyard baby chicks since such chicks are an easy target for predators.

Some injuries in chicks could be due to fungal infections and parasitic infections. These infections could turn to septic and painful wounds over time, making your little birds experience unbearable pain and discomfort while trying to lay down as usual. Check whether your baby chicks have injuries that could be making them lay on their side.

– Just Sleeping

At times, your chicks could be lying on their side just because they are sleeping rather than because of any serious health conditions. Baby chickens are like human babies who fall asleep anywhere and sleep in awkward positions.


Baby chicks can lay on their side for different reasons. Some reasons for baby chicks sleeping on their side can be worrisome for most chicken keepers. Understand why your little birds could be lying on their side and focus on how to solve any issues that could be making your birds sleep on their side.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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