Why Do Chickens Stand on One Leg?

At first, it looks weird for any chicken keeper to see one or two chickens in their flock standing on one leg. After all, your chickens may seem like they are performing bird yoga while standing on one leg.

Although it is perfectly normal for chickens to stand on one leg, a couple of reasons make chickens stand on one leg for long. For instance, some chickens could be standing on one leg due to a physical injury, or the birds could be resting on perches.

Reasons Chickens Stay on One Leg

A couple of reasons explain why chickens stay on one leg for several hours. Read through some of these reasons to understand why some of your chickens remain on one leg.

– Temperature Control

Temperature control is an apparent reason your chickens are tucking one of their legs up while standing. Chickens’ bodies have adaptations to keep them warm. That’s why they have feathers to insulate their body heat.

However, chickens don’t have feathers on their legs, except for a few breeds such as Silkies, and therefore they can’t control internal heat, especially on cold days.

Chickens have limited options when it gets to keeping their legs warm. They need to control their temperature to keep their legs warm while standing on cold or damp ground. When they feel cold in their legs, all chickens can do is tuck in one of their legs against their bodies to feel warm.

By staying on one leg, chickens can reduce heat loss in their bodies through their legs. So, if the weather is chilly, you will notice a couple of birds tucking one of their legs to keep it a bit warmer.

– Physical Injury

Besides temperature control, chickens also stay on one leg due to physical injury. If some of your flock members are staying on one leg for long, especially when the weather isn’t chilly, they could have an injury on their feet.

Leg-related injuries can make your chickens unable to keep their legs down. Some leg-related problems that make chickens unable to stand on their feet include Bumblefoot, a bacterial infection that affects all bird species, including ducks.

Bumblefoot causes inflammation and swelling on chickens’ feet, making them unable to stand. This condition is pretty painful, and chickens can’t bear the pain while standing on their feet.

Chickens with broken toes also stay on one leg due to the extreme pain these birds go through while standing. Chickens’ bones are pretty fragile, and therefore chickens can easily break the bones around their feet. Coop fights and accidents such as getting stuck in the chicken wire can injure your chickens’ legs, making the birds unable to stand on both legs.

Scaly mites can also injure your chickens’ feet. The primary cause of scaly mites is mites prevalent in chicken coops. These mites can find their way into chicken feet, causing long-term injuries that paralyze chickens.

If you fail to treat scaly mites in your chickens, your birds will experience extreme pain, prompting them to lift their legs because of the discomfort and pain that comes with this condition.

– Resting on Perch

Your chickens can stay on one foot for long when resting on the perch. Chickens feel comfortable while resting on perches on one leg. Your chickens will most likely remain on one leg to get the much-needed rest while resting on perch.

Chickens spend most of their time standing on their feet while walking and foraging during the day. When it gets to roosting time, chickens can stay on one leg as they relax.

How Long Can Chicken Stay on One Leg?

Chickens can stay on one leg but not for several hours. Ideally, chickens can stay on one leg for over a couple of minutes since they will experience extreme exhaustion. Furthermore, chickens can’t keep their balance for long while standing on one leg.

A chicken has no option but to stay on one leg if the other leg has injuries. Furthermore, a chicken can still survive with a lame leg, although its quality of life will diminish significantly.

How to Tell if a Chicken Has a Broken Leg?

A chicken with a broken leg can stay on one leg for long since it has no option but to remain on one leg. It, therefore, helps to identify whether your chicken is standing on one leg because of a broken leg. Here is how to tell whether your chicken has a fractured leg.

  • If the chicken is inactive-chickens are pretty active. If your chicken is lazy and can’t run around like other chickens even during meal times, it could be having a broken leg that could be making it inactive due to pain.
  • If the chicken is limping-If one of the birds in your flock is limping, there is a possibility it could be having a broken leg. You need to examine the limping chicken to identify the affected leg and then treat the leg.
  • If the chicken keeps losing balance while walking-A broken leg can make a chicken lose coordination while walking. If you notice a chicken in your flock is losing balance when walking, check whether one of its legs has a fracture.
  • If the chicken is unable to stand– A broken leg can be excruciating. Besides making chickens unable to stand, a broken leg can make a chicken unable to stand because of the unbearable pain.
  • Swollen leg -If your chicken cannot stand and it has a swollen leg, there are chances the bird could have a broken leg. It would help if you scrutinized the leg to find whether the leg has a fracture. Although swelling on the leg can be due to an injury, a broken leg will make your chicken’s leg swell for several days if you don’t treat the fractured leg.


It is common to notice some of your chickens standing on one leg, mainly when the weather is chilly. Chickens will also remain standing on one leg while resting on the perch. However, you should worry if any of your chickens stay with one leg for several hours.

Check if the chicken has an injury or if the bird has a broken leg that could be prompting it to keep standing on one leg for long.

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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