Chickens are interesting birds, and have their own unique way of living in which distinguishes them from other birds and pets. But what about their sleeping behaviors and traits? Do they take a standing position for their rest?
So, do chickens sleep standing up? Chickens do not stand when they sleep. Instead, they perch on a roost. While perching and standing may appear similar, they are in fact different things. Perching is relaxing in an elevated position and this is the safest and most comfortable way for them to get their required rest.
Whether you own some chickens and have questioned whether they are standing whilst sleep, or if you have observed/wondered what chickens do to sleep, this article will help gives you some answers.
We will be exploring how chickens sleep, where they sleep, how long for and what time do they typically attempt some shut eye.
Let’s discuss these questions in more detail in the following sections.
How Do Chickens Sleep?
Both wild and domestic chickens have the same sleeping patterns. When chickens are not active, naturally, they sleep; even feral chickens in the wild, snooze. This is even more likely on hot and mild days. They establish roosting areas and feel safer when they are elevated from the ground. As such, it is not uncommon to see wild chickens sleeping on treetops at night.
Chickens are aware of the fact that they are prey animals. They know that if they allow themselves to shut down and go into a state of deep sleep that they are more vulnerable to predators. Because of this incredible self-awareness, chickens prefer to perch rather than lie down when they sleep. This is different to standing.
Perching is relaxing in an elevated position, and this is the safest and most comfortable way for them to get any rest.
The majority of chicken owners will purchase a perch to place in their coops. There are excellent cost effective options, like the one below, that you can get on Amazon.
- Add to chicken coops and pens
- Provides chickens with a perch that naturally offers comfort and a sense of security
- Easy assembly
- All natural materials
An intriguing fact about chickens is that once they discover a cozy place to perch every night, they label it as their preferred spot. They are smart birds and will often return to that spot if they have roamed around for an extended period of the day.
So, when you place a new perch in your coop, it may take a few days for them to work it out and begin using it. However, your chickens will be very appreciative of the fact that they now have a dedicated place to rest.
Some chickens sleep in very awkward positions, but there isn’t one “right way” for chickens to sleep. If you are concerned about your bird or birds resting in a strange position, then all you need to do is look at their general well-being to see if there is a problem. As long as they are active, not losing weight and egg production is going well, there is usually nothing to worry about.
Fascinatingly, chickens sleep in a row-like pattern, the chickens on the outside will close the eye facing the other chickens on the inside and leave the eye facing out open. The chickens in the center of the formation will close both eyes. The chickens on the outside are looking out for predators, and it’s safe to say that they take turns.
Where Do Chickens Sleep?
Chickens in the wild, like to sleep high perched on tree branches where predators can’t get them, and they like to sleep with lots of other chickens as they feel safest this way.
Domestic chickens are not much different; they like to perch themselves high up from the ground on a stick or branch; this is what you would call a roost.
Domestic chickens will sleep in a coop/ hen house where they will be dry and protected from predators.
If you are wondering how high you should place your roosting branch or stick, you must consider the height of your henhouse.
Chickens like to be as elevated as possible when they sleep. They want a clear vantage point, where they can feel secure.
How Long Do Chickens Sleep?
How long chickens sleep, depends very much on the personality of each bird, and also the time of year.
Some birds are naturally very light sleepers and wake at the slightest noise; others don’t seem to have an established pattern where they might sleep only when they are tired from being busy non-stop. Others are more disciplined and will sleep at the same time and wake at the same time.
The consensus among chicken keepers is that chickens sleep on average 7 hours in the summer and possibly more in the winter.
A chicken’s daily schedule is determined by daylight. If there isn’t any artificial light in their coop, they could go for a long night’s sleep until dusk and not wake until dawn the following day. In high-latitudes, chickens sleep around 15-16 hours per night.
During the winter reproduction goes down; however, egg-laying isn’t affected. Although shortened daylight in the fall does reduce egg production, this can be problematic for the owner.
Chickens require around 15 hours of brightness for high yield egg production.
Some owners add a bulb into the coop for winter lighting as it does appear to guarantee continued egg-laying throughout the darkest days.
Solar bulbs are particularly effective because they are self-sufficient with energy and do not require access to a power outlet.
What Time Do Chickens Sleep?
Chickens are crepuscular, meaning they are meaning they are most active in the twilight hours between dusk and dawn.
Many chicken keepers prefer to train their birds to go into the coop, and onto their roosts, at the same time every night. It helps to choose an hour so that you can close the door of their coop at night. This method works for some people and their chickens.
Other chicken keepers have a rooster that will call the hens to the coop. Some hens however are stubborn and will ignore him as they don’t like the rooster telling them what to do. You could try to get your chickens to follow you into the coop at dusk; this generally works for some.
As stated in the previous section, how long chickens sleep and what time chickens sleep depends on the personality of each bird, but more so on the time of year and daylight determines their schedule.
In the summer, for example, chickens might sleep at 9 pm, and wake at 5 am, in the winter when the days are shorter and darker, they may sleep earlier and wake up later.
Generally speaking, chickens will sleep when it’s dark, they also like to take naps during the day, and the older they get, the more they nap.
There isn’t a set time for chickens, what hour chickens sleep is up to each owner and their respective flock.
They are all different; some will sleep earlier than others; some are light sleepers; others love their sleep.
Instinctively chickens will sleep as soon as night falls and will be up when it is bright enough for them to start their day.
Chickens do not sleep standing up, they perch. They prefer to rest high off the ground. They may look silly, but looks are deceiving; they know how to take care of themselves. When it comes to sleep, they are aware that there is safety in numbers as well as in height.
There is no set hours or one right position/way for chickens to sleep; they know instinctively what is most comfortable for them.
As their owner, help them to sleep well by providing a secure coop and adding an appropriate number of perches.
Also consider safe supplemental heating (like this effective heat pad on Amazon) and lighting to improve the general conditions of their environment.
Make sure that it is clean and dry and make sure that there is no dampness in their coop; this will support restful, comfortable sleep.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.