Why do Chickens Sleep in Nesting Boxes?

Some chicken keepers usually think there is nothing wrong with their birds sleeping in nesting boxes. After all, sleeping in nest boxes sounds harmless enough to worry a chicken keeper. However, chickens shouldn’t be sleeping in nest boxes.

Sleeping in nest boxes isn’t good for your chickens’ well-being. Considering that chickens usually poop all night, your birds will ultimately soil the nesting boxes if they sleep in the boxes at night.

Furthermore, chickens that sleep in nest boxes are at high risk of suffocating or overheating.

Why Should Chickens Not Sleep in Nest Boxes?

While you may assume it is normal for chickens to sleep in nest boxes, this is something you should treat seriously, particularly if every bird in the flock wants to sleep in the nesting boxes. Your birds shouldn’t be sleeping in nesting boxes since they are likely to break or eat their eggs, which is a terrible habit that is hard to stop.

Furthermore, chickens will soil their nesting boxes at night with droppings, making their feathers and vents dirty. Moreover, chickens will most likely ruin the nesting material in the boxes, which will cost you plenty of time cleaning.

It’s a real challenge cleaning dirty nesting boxes when your birds have been pooping in there all night. Worse still, your birds can overheat when they sleep in the nesting boxes, especially if they pile on each other. Suffocating is also a risk that comes with sleeping in nesting boxes.

Chicks and younger chickens are more likely to suffocate from sleeping in nesting boxes since they are pretty delicate. Try to discourage your chickens from sleeping in nesting boxes but instead encourage the birds to roost on perches.

As much as sleeping in nesting boxes may seem pretty harmless, it is something you shouldn’t let your chickens do.

5 Reasons Chickens Sleep in Nesting Boxes

It isn’t unusual to find some birds coming out from the nesting boxes in the morning, meaning they spent the night in the boxes. Nevertheless, this habit becomes serious when the birds sleep in the boxes more frequently.

Many reasons can make chickens sleep in nesting boxes, and therefore it is wise to know precisely why your birds are sleeping in the boxes rather than roosting on perches. Below are the top five reasons chickens sleep in nesting boxes.

– Mites Infestation

Reoccurring mite infestations in your chicken coop can force your chickens to spend the night in the nesting boxes. Mites can be a problem for chicken keepers since they make their birds suffer.

These tiny parasites can spread rapidly throughout the coop, leading to nasty infestations that make the coop uncomfortable for chickens. If your chickens haven’t been sleeping on their perches, it could be that they are mites in the coop.

Inspect the coop for mites and immediately treat mite infestations. Besides mites, lice can also make chickens sleep in their nesting boxes to avoid attacks from these tiny external parasites.

Because mites and lice lay countless eggs, one treatment isn’t effective enough to kill these parasites. Although one treatment can kill adult mites, their eggs will hatch later and reinfect your chickens. Also, treating your chickens’ feathers for mites and lice won’t help keep these parasites at bay.

Having several treatments is the most effective way of dealing with these nasty parasites that make your birds sleep in the nest boxes. Don’t forget to treat all the roosting areas, and pay more attention to dark corners and the small cracks in the coop since these are some areas where mites hide.

Most importantly, keep the coop clean because mites and lice thrive in dirty places, and therefore having a dirty coop will only expose your birds to parasite infestations.

– Bullying

Bullying is also another reason your birds are sleeping in nesting boxes. This is prevalent when there isn’t enough space in the coop. Furthermore, bullying can occur as your chickens strive to showcase dominance or superiority over each other.

The older birds are likely to bully their junior counterparts over space. The younger chickens will take refuge in the nest boxes to avoid bullying, especially if the coop is already congested. Identify the aggressive birds that could be bullying other birds, forcing the innocent birds to seek refuge in the nesting boxes.

You can either remove these birds from the flock. Alternatively, you can try getting a bigger coop if you think congestion in the coop could be encouraging bullying in your flock. If you are adding some new chickens to the flock, note whether the other birds are bullying the newcomers.

If the new members start sleeping in nesting boxes, unlike other birds, there is likely bullying in your flock, and you need to address bullying in your flock.

– Old chicken

Older chickens are less active, and they lack enough strength to hold on to perches throughout the night, unlike younger ones. Therefore, old chickens opt to sleep in nesting boxes since they won’t struggle to hold on to perches all night.

If you get some old chickens sleeping on nesting boxes, it is because they are too old and less energetic to roost on perches. Old chickens also tend to sleep in nest boxes since they perceive the nests as more comfortable than sleeping on perches.

Younger chickens also tend to sleep in boxes before mastering how to hold on to perches.

– Lack of Space

In most cases, chickens will sleep in nesting boxes when there isn’t enough space in the coop. Lack of sufficient space can be a huge problem since lack of space can make your birds squeeze in together, increasing the risk of your chickens overheating.

If more than two chickens are sleeping in the nesting boxes, it is clear your coop lacks enough space. Transfer some birds to another coop, or remove a couple of birds from the flock to get enough space in the coop. A congested coop can also make your chickens fight each other for space.

Frequent coop fights can result in some of the birds getting severe injuries. Worse still, coop fights can lead to deaths, leaving chicken owners counting losses. Therefore, give your birds adequate space to help them stop sleeping in nest boxes.

– Perches are Too Low

If the perches are lower than nesting boxes, chickens will choose to sleep in the boxes because they will have a sense of safety sleeping in high nesting boxes. Setting the perches too low for your birds to perch safely and comfortably won’t give them a reason to roost on perches.

Similarly, the nest boxes shouldn’t be higher than the perches because your birds will choose the boxes over the perches. Chickens love roosting on high perches, although the perches shouldn’t be too high for the chickens to reach without struggling.

Roosting on a higher point gives your birds a feeling of safety while roosting at night. Chickens are perching birds, and they won’t remain on the ground when they are perches in the coop.

How to Stop Chickens from Sleeping in Nest Boxes?

It’s one thing to understand why your chickens are sleeping in nesting boxes. Nonetheless, it is entirely a different thing to deter your birds from this habit. The sooner you stop your birds from sleeping in nest boxes, the better.

Although chickens sleeping in the nest boxes can be a difficult habit to stop, a few things can discourage your birds from sleeping in the nest boxes. Here is what you can do to address the problem of your birds sleeping in the nest boxes.

– Block Access to Nest Boxes

Chickens will never stop sleeping in their nesting boxes, especially when they have been sleeping in the boxes for a long time. It is almost impossible to prevent your birds from sleeping in the boxes when they should be roosting on perches.

However, you can deny your birds access to the nest boxes by blocking the boxes. The best way to block access to nest boxes is by placing cardboard on the front of the boxes. Try placing the cardboard a couple of hours before your birds roost.

When night time comes, your birds won’t have access to the boxes. Consequently, they will have to roost on the perches or spend the night on the coop’s floor. With time, your chickens won’t feel the urge to sleep on the nesting boxes since they will never get access to the boxes.

– Remove the Nest Boxes

Removing all the nesting boxes from the chicken coop is ultimately the best way to stop your birds from sleeping in the boxes. Removing the nest boxes before nighttime will work well in preventing the chickens from sleeping in the boxes.

Since the birds will have no option, they will have to roost on perches. However, you shouldn’t discard the boxes completely since your egg-laying hens will need them for laying. Otherwise, you will have difficulty collecting eggs all over the coop if the hens start laying all over the coop.

Therefore, remove the boxes during nighttime and then have them back in the coop early in the morning when your hens are about to start laying. Without the nesting boxes in the coop, your chickens will have to spend the night on perches, or they will have to sleep on the floor.

– Add New Perches Higher

Adding new perches higher up than the nest boxes can stop chickens from sleeping in nest boxes. You can also lower the nest boxes to ensure the perches remain higher than the boxes. Chickens like to remain up high, especially at night, since they feel safe from potential threats, including predators.

However, if the nest boxes are higher than the perches, your birds will prefer to spend the night in the boxes instead of sleeping on the perches.

Besides ensuring the perches are higher than the nesting boxes, ensure there are enough perches in the coop. With more perches, each bird will have enough room to spend the night.


Chickens can sleep in nesting boxes for different reasons. Whether it is bullying, lack of enough space, or lack of perches,  chicken chickens sleeping in nesting boxes should bother you as a responsible chicken keeper.

Therefore, consider doing everything within your control to stop your birds from sleeping in their nesting boxes.

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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