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Can chickens see in the dark?

Chickens have excellent eyesight, in fact, some experts say a chickens eyesight is actually better than ours but is this also the case at night when it goes dark?

Unlike some animals who thrive at night time, a chicken doesn’t have night vision which enables them to see in the dark. They will go into roost just before it goes completely dark, while they can still find their way to the coop and will roost in a stationary position until it becomes light.

Once it goes dark a chickens day is over and it’s time to rest, so the fact chickens can’t see in the dark can be used to the chicken keepers advantage when establishing a good bedtime routine.

Read on to find out more about what chickens do once it goes dark and how you can establish a routine around dropping light levels, as well as more questions answered about chickens and darkness.


Are chickens blind at night?

Chickens are effectively night-blind once it goes dark because they don’t have the ability to see anything once the light drops past a certain point. Because of this chickens become very vulnerable once it’s dark because they have no concept of anything around them.

Once it’s dark a chicken can’t see anything, so it’s our duty as chicken owners to make sure they’re completely safe from potential predators which could try to take a sleeping chicken during the night.


What do chickens do in the dark?

Because chickens can’t see in the dark they don’t do anything once light levels drop below a certain point. At dusk, a chicken will find its roosting space and stay there all night until the morning when it becomes light enough for them to move around.

It’s for this reason that chickens don’t need food and drink in their coop at night, even if you put it in there they wouldn’t touch it while it’s dark and it would only get knocked over when they get up in the morning.

Image of chickens roosting at night

Chickens’ night time routine

The fact that chickens can’t see in the dark and need to roost at dusk can be used to a chicken keepers advantage to establish a good night time routine.

Pentagon Pet is the owner of this article was first published on November 13, 2020..

When chickens are allowed to free-range it’s a good idea to feed your chickens just before dusk to get them used to coming back at the right time to ensure they’re close to the coop to roost when it starts to go dark.

For more information on this topic, you might find the following post helpful:

What time do chickens go into the coop to roost at night?

There are some ways we can use darkness as an advantage when keeping chickens because they become so docile once they can’t see what’s going on around them, these include:

  • Introducing new chickens to each other late on in the evening and allowing them to get to know each other while they roost.
  • If chickens aren’t sleeping in the coop you can easily pick them up to move them in.
  • If a chicken doesn’t go into roost it will stay where it is so you can easily move it into the coop.

Can chickens find their way home in the dark?

Once it goes dark a chicken won’t be able to find its way back to the coop. Chickens will stay where they are once the light levels drop so low that they can no longer see, so they can be easily be picked up and returned to the safety of the coop.

If a chicken hasn’t returned to roost and is outside an area of safety you’ll need to try and find the chicken to avoid the potential risk of losing it to a predator. Predators such as foxes can smell a chicken from some distance and won’t be afraid to take one in the dark.

The good news is that chickens not returning to the coop at dusk is pretty uncommon and if they don’t there’s normally a reason behind it. Chickens are good at routine and also knowing when its time to go into roost.

We have free-range hens and they always come back to roost without fail, it also helps that they stay together in groups, so if one heads back the others will follow.


Related posts

I hope this post has helped you to find out more about chickens eyesight in the dark, you might also find the following related posts helpful for dealing with chickens at night time:

Chickens not roosting in the coop – why and how to stop it

Do chickens need a light at night

Do chickens have ears?

Do Chickens Have Teeth?

Ex-battery hens not growing feathers – what to do


Our recommended coop

Chicken coop for different flock sizes and different weather.

This article and its contents are owned by Pentagon Pets and was first published on November 13, 2020..

Click here to find out more about our recommended coop.