How Do Chickens Sleep?

Chickens can sleep in different positions like us humans. Some chickens can sleep while curling up in little balls. Others can sleep while sitting down or stretching out on the floor while extending their necks and legs.

It would be prudent if you built your chicken coop in a way that accommodates your birds’ sleeping preferences. It doesn’t matter whatever way your chickens choose to sleep.

What is essential is for the birds to sleep comfortably through the night and get up once daylight sets in.

Where do Chickens Sleep?

Chickens like sleeping on roost perches instead of sleeping in nesting boxes or on the floor. These birds like sleeping on roosting perches since they feel safe from threats, including predators.

Even when they aren’t predators in the coop, chickens won’t risk sleeping on the floor but rather on roosting perches. This sleep behavior is instinctual, and your birds will always prefer sleeping on a high spot as long as they feel safe at night.

How Many Hours Do Chickens Sleep?

Chickens sleep for around eight hours on average. Chickens will enter the coop when sunset approaches and start sleeping immediately after darkness sets in.

For chickens, darkness means it’s sleeping time, and since they can’t see anything at night, your birds will retreat to their coop at night and start sleeping. They will wake up the next day as soon as the sun rises.

Can Chickens Sleep in Nest Boxes?

In rare cases, chickens can sleep in their nest boxes. After all, it’s harmless for your birds to sleep in their nesting boxes. However, sleeping in nest boxes isn’t something you should be encouraging your bird to continue with as a chicken owner.

Many risks come with chickens sleeping in nest boxes. For instance, chickens are likely to smother each other if they sleep while piling in the nest boxes, subjecting the birds to the risk of fatalities, especially among young chickens.

Hens risk eating or breaking their eggs whenever they sleep in nest boxes. It is a bad habit that your chickens can pick if you let the birds sleep in nest boxes.

Chickens can also soil their eggs with their poops if they continue sleeping in the boxes, mainly when you don’t collect the eggs during the day. Meaning you will have plenty of work to clean the eggs.

Although chickens feel safer while sleeping in nest boxes, they are at risk of overheating, mainly if they sleep while piling in the boxes. Furthermore, your chickens will likely soil their nest boxes if they sleep in the boxes for several nights. As a result, they will soil their vents and feathers over time.

For many reasons, your birds can sleep in nest boxes rather than on the roosting perches. For instance, some of your chickens will prefer to sleep in the boxes if there are few roosting perches in the coop.

Poor coop design can encourage your birds to sleep in nest boxes, particularly if the boxes seem too comfortable or convenient for your birds. Chickens require space to sleep on roosting perches comfortably and climb down the perches at sunset.

Congestion in the coop can see your chickens scrambling for roosting space. Instead of sleeping while piling on each other, some chickens might shift to the nest boxes and sleep in the boxes through the night.

Congestion can also increase the occurrence of coop fights as each chicken struggles to get some sleeping space. Since some of your birds might not be able to confront the others over space, they are likely to opt to sleep in nest boxes.

The other common reason for chickens sleeping in nest boxes is parasite infestations. Mites and lice can be devastating to chickens, and they can also make nighttime unbearable for these birds.

If there are parasite infestations in the coop, your chickens might stop sleeping on the roosting perches and instead move to the nest boxes.

Age is also a factor that encourages some chickens to sleep in boxes while they should be sleeping on roost perches. Old chickens or very young birds, for instance, will struggle to sleep on perches. Due to their inability to sleep on the perches through the night, they will ultimately choose to sleep safely in the nest boxes.

Artificially-raised chickens might not know how to perch, and they may never learn the art of perching. Such chickens will never sleep on roosting perches. And since they don’t want to risk their lives sleeping on the floor for fear of their safety, they will ultimately sleep in nesting boxes where they feel safe and comfortable.

How you place roosting perches in the coop can also encourage or discourage your chickens from sleeping in nest boxes.

For example, if the perches are too low, your chickens won’t feel safe and comfortable sleeping on the perches because chickens naturally like sleeping on high points because they feel safe from threats.

Therefore, your chickens will resort to sleeping in boxes if the roosting perches in the coop are too low. Similarly, chickens will have difficulty climbing perches if you set them too high. Younger and older chickens will especially have challenges climbing perches if they are too high off the floor.

The risk of predators also makes chickens unable to sleep comfortably on the roosting perches. Chickens fear for their safety, and they will never sleep normally if they sense a predator stalking them.

Because of fear for their lives, your chickens will prefer to spend the night in their nesting boxes to avoid predators.

Bullying also makes chickens sleep in nesting boxes. If some senior birds in your flock are harassing other chickens, these chickens will do their best to avoid the aggressive birds.

They won’t dare fight the senior members over sleeping space when roosting time sets in. Instead, they will avoid sharing the same space with the aggressive members and go to sleep in the nest boxes where other chickens won’t bully them.

You can make a couple of changes to encourage your birds to sleep on the roosting perches rather than sleep in their nesting boxes. First, consider having enough roosting perches in the coop to ensure each bird has enough space to perch while sleeping.

Second, be cautious about how you place the roosts in the coop. Avoid setting the perches too high for the birds to climb. Neither should you put the roosting perches too low off the ground. Most importantly, please get rid of any parasite infestations that could be prompting your birds to sleep in their nesting boxes.

Furthermore, keep your birds safe from predators, including foxes, raccoons, and stray dogs notorious for attacking chickens at night. The safer your chickens are, the more they will be eager to sleep on the roosting perches at night.

Do Chickens Sleep During the Day?

It’s rare to find chickens sleeping during the day. These diurnal birds are active throughout the day. Daytime is the opportune time for chickens to forage for food, take dust baths, mate, and interact with each other.

However, chickens, especially adult chickens, can sleep during the day but for short periods. Chickens could feel sleepy during the day, especially if they never got enough sleep the previous night.

Chickens only sleep for a couple of minutes during the day and then resume their active lifestyle after getting some rest. If your chickens are sleeping for several hours during the day, it is a sign they have a health problem that needs the intervention of an avian vet.

Do Chickens Sleep With Open Eyes?

No, chickens don’t sleep with open eyes. Instead, chickens sleep with one eye open. The reason chickens sleep with one eye open is because their left eye is connected to the right part of their brain, while the right eye connects to the left part of their brain.

Therefore, chickens sleep with one eye open to help them stay alert for threats while sleeping.

Do Chickens Need Light at Night?

No, chickens don’t need a light at night. Light will disrupt their sleep patterns, making them unable to sleep. If you light up the coop through the night, your chickens will mistake the light for daylight.

Your birds will, therefore, not get the quality sleep they need. Avoid lighting the coop during the night lest you deny your chickens quality sleep.

Do Chickens Sleep Standing Up?

No, chickens don’t sleep standing. They usually sleep while sitting on a perch. Your chickens won’t get restful sleep if they sleep while standing. Although chickens have different preferences for sleeping positions, you won’t get a chicken sleeping while standing.

Even if there aren’t enough perches in the coop, your chickens will either choose to sleep on the ground or in nesting boxes if there are some boxes in the coop.

Conclusion

Chickens have different sleeping preferences. Some chickens can sleep while curling up, while others will sleep while stretching out their necks and legs. Ideally, chickens sleep on roosting perches, and they prefer spending the night high off the floor.

Regardless of how your birds choose to sleep, ensure the conditions in the coop are favorable enough to guarantee your chickens a quality sleep.

Chickens   Updated: July 1, 2022
avatar 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.

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