Like any other animal, the chicken needs to sleep, as it needs to be healthy enough to have the energy to lay eggs on a regular basis. As such, it is important for you to know more about the different sleeping habits of a chicken so that you can give it a conducive environment for sleep. After all, you want your chickens to sleep soundly to stay healthy. So, what time do chickens sleep, and how long do they usually sleep?
Chickens will usually sleep from dusk till dawn, and that means that they will roost the moment the sun goes down and will wake up at sunrise. This can be somewhere between 8 and 12 hours a day, depending on the season. And chickens will also regularly take short naps during the day.
If you think about it, chickens are just like us in the sense that they need to sleep well enough and even take naps. That’s because, while chickens don’t do many things in a day, they need the energy to lay eggs.
Chickens need to be healthy so that they stay happy enough to be able to lay eggs daily. As such, promoting good and sound sleep is one way of making sure your flock is happy.
How many hours does chicken sleep?
Sleep has always been an important part of any animal’s daily life because it allows the entire body to rest and stay healthy for another grind. The same concept applies to your backyard chickens because of how they need to actually sleep on a regular basis to make sure that they stay healthy and happy.
Even though you may think that chickens don’t do anything all day, you have to understand that it takes energy for them to be able to produce the eggs that you harvest on a daily basis. That said, they need to be healthy and happy enough to be able to properly produce eggs. And that is why your chickens need to sleep well.
So, how many hours do chickens usually sleep on a regular basis? Knowing such information will allow you to monitor your chickens’ sleeping patterns and see whether they are actually sleeping well enough or not.
In that regard, there is no exact certainty as to how long chickens actually sleep.
The minimum sleep duration for a chicken is 8 hours, which is similar to many other animals, but it won’t be odd to see a chicken sleeping for up to 12 hours in a day. It depends on many factors because they rely on the sun when it comes to their sleeping pattern.
Chickens usually follow the sun when it comes to how long they sleep. In most cases, they will most likely sleep the moment that the sun goes down. That’s because the lack of light is what will prompt a chicken to sleep, as chickens are usually blind during the night and are incapable of doing anything else when there is no longer any light. As such, the only thing they can do at that point is to sleep.
Seasonal changes affect how long the sun stays up and down. As such, this could affect how long your chickens will stay asleep, considering that their natural body clocks will rely on whether the sun has already risen or not.
So, when the sun tends to rise early and set late during the summer, there is a chance that your chickens might have a shorter sleeping period of somewhere closer to 8 hours. On the other hand, they could sleep for up to 12 hours during the winter, when the days are shorter and the nights are longer.
Availability of other sources of light
As mentioned, chickens rely on light to know when they should already be sleeping. That’s because of how they are naturally wired to follow the sun’s patterns when it comes to their sleeping habits.
So, if there is more light that is available in your area such as when you live in a city or when you just have plenty of lights turned on in the backyard where your chickens are cooped up, there is a good chance that your chickens might have a shorter sleeping period because they may end up turning in late or as long as there is enough light.
Having a brightly lit backyard may induce your chickens to stay up later than usual because they may associate these lights with sunlight. This may lead the chickens to sleep later than usual and probably not complete their usual 8 hours a night, especially if you forgot to turn the lights off. This is why chickens are best kept in the suburbs or in rural areas, due to how these places are not as full of lights as bigger cities and highly urbanized areas are.
Different chickens have different sleeping patterns
Birds of the same feather may flock together, but that doesn’t mean that they all sleep together at the same time. Different chickens may have different sleeping patterns for no apparent reason other than how some chickens are simply unique in their own way.
For example, there will be some older chickens that are much more willing to stay up late than their younger counterparts, who are not yet as used to the sun’s usual behavior. That means that they may end up turning in earlier than other chickens, who might want to stay up late even after the sun has already gone down because they know that they will still get a full night’s rest if they don’t actually sleep at exact sundown.
Then there are also chickens who are so used to the behavior of the sun that they would actually return to their coops minutes before the sun has actually set. Meanwhile, some of the chickens belonging to the same flock might wait at exact sundown before they return to the coop to sleep.
It really depends on the chicken’s individual behavior but the fact of the matter is that most chickens tend to sleep somewhere between 8 to 12 hours a day. Some may sleep earlier and wake up earlier while others might sleep later and wake up late. Not all chickens sleep at exactly the same time or even wake up at the exact same moment.
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What time do chickens go to bed?
Chickens have a different habit compared to other animals in the sense that they don’t go to bed simply whenever they want to. That’s because chickens are completely diurnal animals that rely a lot on the sun to know when they should go to bed.
This means that they are active as long as the sun is up and will be prompted to sleep when the sun is starting to set or has completely set.
As such, the time that chickens go to bed can vary depending on what time the sun goes down. During the summers, they may go to bed later than usual due to the longer days but, during the winters, they may end up sleeping earlier because of how the days are shorter.
So, with that said, there are chickens that may end up turning in at around 5 to 6 pm while others may sleep later than that depending on their individual habits. Some chickens may want to stay up later than others, but more than a couple of hours past their usual bedtime.
That’s why it might not be unusual to see chickens that are still active at around 7 in the evening. But it might be rare to find a chicken still up past 8 pm. Again, chickens rely a lot on the sun when it comes to their sleeping habits. These are animals that are naturally wired to follow the sun, relating to what time they should sleep and what time they should wake up.
Chickens are birds that sleep from dusk till dawn, and that is why some birds usually turn in to sleep at 6 pm and then wake up before 5 am.
Why won’t my chickens sleep at night?
To reiterate, chickens will naturally go to bed the moment dusk has begun settling. Generally, they take themselves to bed so that you don’t even have to do anything at all to make your flock sleep. However, there will be cases where your chickens might actually stay up longer than usual and will not sleep. So, why won’t some chickens sleep at night?
There could be varied reasons why chickens don’t sleep at night, and some of these reasons may be related to their immediate environment, such as they don’t feel comfortable sleeping in the environment you gave them because it is less than conducive for them.
Most of the time, there are some chickens that just don’t seem comfortable in the coop you provided them. They probably don’t like how the coop gets a bit too cold at night or how dirty it is. You might not even have the right kind of roost for them or did not provide enough room for all of your chickens in the coop.
Sometimes, there is nothing wrong with the coop, but your chickens just don’t want to turn in early for some odd reason. Such reasons can vary, but there are some strategies that you can use to make your chickens go to their coop so that they would actually sleep.
Meanwhile, there are flocks with bullies that may be picking on the younger chickens. This can happen when some older chickens have already established their pecking order in the flock and are not willing to give room for the younger chickens to feel comfortable in the coop. That’s why the younger chickens might find it harder to sleep.
Of course, the usual problems such as pests and predators may also be bothering your chickens. Even if your chickens are in the coop, certain pests or predators may be bothering them to the point that they don’t feel comfortable or safe to sleep at night. And there are cases where the chickens don’t even want to go into the coop because they know that a predator has been visiting them there.
As a whole, here are the most common reasons for chickens that don’t want to sleep:
- They don’t feel comfortable sleeping in the coop (too cold, dirty, etc.)
- Not the right kind of roost for them
- Not enough room in the chicken’s coop
- Certain pests or predators may be bothering your chickens
- Old chickens are bullying the younger ones
Make sure to address all of them if you still have issues with your flock.
How do I get my chickens to go to bed?
So, if you want to make your chickens go to bed, here are some of the things you might want to do to make it easier for them to go to their coop when dusk has already settled:
- Make the coop more comfortable
Making the coop a much more conducive place for the chickens to sleep in can go a long way into enticing them to sleep. Try to check for openings where the cold night air may be entering, or try adding a layer of insulation to make the coop warmer. You should also make sure that you have a roost that your chickens actually like. Of course, regularly cleaning the coop can make it more comfortable and sanitary for your chickens to sleep in.
- Entice them with food
When dusk is about to settle, you can try to make your chickens enter their coop by leaving a trail of food that they can follow into the coop. This will essentially allow you to fool your flock into going inside the coop the moment the sun has set so that they will have no other choice but to try to sleep through the night.
- Get a bigger coop
When you have bullies in your coop or if your chickens just aren’t too comfortable with a smaller coop, then you have no choice but to get a bigger coop where your chickens can sleep comfortably without bothering any of the other members of the flock.
Bullies tend to pick on smaller and younger chickens when they feel like their space is being invaded. Meanwhile, there are simply chickens that might not be very comfortable sleeping in a coop that is quite cramped.
In such cases, getting a bigger coop can solve a lot of problems as you will be able to minimize the chances of bigger and older chickens bullying their younger counterparts while also providing enough room and living space for the entire flock. The bigger the coop, the more likely the chickens are more comfortable with the space they have.
- Deal with pests
Chickens are usually capable of dealing with pests and parasites on a regular basis but there will be times when the infestation can be too much to handle. When the coop is infested with mites and other types of parasites, your chickens might not want to sleep there.
So, in that regard, what you need to do is to inspect the coop for pests to see if there are mites or other parasites that may be infesting the chickens’ living space. Deal with these pests first by cleaning out the bedding or even using a chemical solution to kill off the pests. Also, you might want to clean your chickens as well and see to it that they are mite-free so that the infestation won’t get out of hand.
- Protect the flock
Chickens don’t like sleeping in coops that they don’t feel safe in probably because they have experienced a predator attacking them at night. This can be quite common in rural communities because rats, snakes, and other predators can easily find their way into the coop. So, when your chickens know that they aren’t safe in their coop, they are less likely to want to sleep there at night.
As such, you may want to inspect tiny openings where certain predators can get through. Seal off any of the openings that are in the coop so that you can secure it and allow your chickens to feel safer sleeping in their coop at night.
Also, you may want to get a guard dog that is specifically trained to not harm chickens. A guard dog can keep the chickens in check while also protecting them from predators. In a sense, the guard dog can act as a deterrent that will keep predators at bay. And if you don’t trust dogs because some of them may still end up hurting your chickens, you can also use a rooster, which is naturally wired to protect a flock of hens (read more about this in this article).
- Turn the lights off
If you have plenty of lights in your backyard or in the area where you keep your chickens, turn them off. Chickens associate their sleeping patterns with light, and having plenty of lights turned on may make them think that it is not yet time to sleep.
That’s why you have to minimize the lights at night so that the chickens will actually go inside their coops once they have realized that the sun has already set. You can turn a few lights on later when the chickens are already in their coop, but it is not a good idea to keep the night bright while the chickens are still out and about.
Do chickens sleep in the day?
Chickens will actually often sleep in the day, but this is not a deep sleep. Instead, chickens will only take short naps that may last for a few minutes to a few hours. This is quite common right after the chickens have eaten, as napping may help them digest their meals better.
The one thing you need to know about chickens that nap during the day is that they don’t always do so in their coops. Some chickens will nap wherever they want to because they know that their naps won’t last for more than a few hours. But some chickens will still go back to their coop to nap only to come out after waking up from a short rest.
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