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Chickens Sleeping on the Ground (Instead of Perches)

Chicken sleeping arrangements can sometimes become a little unorganized particularly when you have younger birds or birds that are new to the flock.

It’s not unusual for chickens to sleep in areas other than their perches, but when they’re sleeping on the ground there’s usually a reason why they’re doing it along with a way to fix the problem so they roost in the right place.

The main reasons why chickens choose to sleep on the coop floor are usually because the bird is young and inexperienced, bullying within the flock or because there’s an issue with the perches such as they’re too high, too narrow or there’s not enough space.

Read on to find out more about why your chicken or chickens might be choosing to sleep on the coop floor, along with how to get them off the floor and onto their perches.

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Is it a Problem if Chickens Don’t Sleep on Perches?

If you have a chicken or chickens who are sleeping on the coop floor instead of with the other birds, then you might be wondering if it’s actually a problem or can you just let them sleep where they want.

It’s generally not a good idea for chickens to sleep on the coop floor on a long-term basis for the following reasons:

  • The coop floor is the dirtiest part of the coop where all the droppings go from the chickens above.
  • The chicken could essentially spend the night lying in chicken muck depending on when the bottom of the coop was last cleaned out.
  • Mites and bugs are more likely to be on the coop floor than on perches.
  • A lone chicken on the ground won’t feel the benefit of the body heat they get from sitting next to each other.
  • It could be a sign of bullying or a problem on the perch which is preventing the chicken from roosting.
  • Chickens generally choose the perch because they naturally feel safer in an elevated position.

If your chickens are also sleeping in nest boxes and you’re worried that this might be a problem, you might find the article below useful:

Chickens Sleeping in Nest Boxes – is it Really a Problem?


Reasons Why Chickens Sleep on the Ground (and How to Fix it)

When a chicken decides to sleep on the coop floor instead of roosting with the other birds, there’s usually a reason for it.

By finding out the reason why they’re on the ground you can start to resolve the problem and in some cases, it might even be a quick fix.

Here are some possible reasons why your chickens might be choosing to sleep on the coop floor:

1 – Bullying within the flock

Problem

If a chicken is low down or at the bottom of the pecking order, then it’s likely that they won’t get the best spot in the coop.

In some cases, birds at the top of a pecking order will become very bossy and aggressive towards birds who are lower down in the order and this can lead to bullying of a certain bird.

The bird being bullied might be pushed out of certain situations such as feed or treat time and may even pushed off the perch.

In this scenario, the bullied bird might have no option but to sleep on the ground or in a nest box.

Fix

Sometimes this problem might be due to a lack of space on the perch, so putting in extra perching space might help to fix the problem.

In more extreme cases and if a chicken is being pecked and hurt, you might need to separate the bully from the other chickens until the situation calms down.

We did this when we first got a rooster by putting a board between the bully bird and the rest of the flock overnight and until things calmed down. How you do this really depends on your set up, but it does help to defuse the situation.

four chickens perching in a row

2 – Problems with the perches

Problem

Problems with perches which might prevent chickens from roosting on them can include:

  • Being to high
  • Being too narrow or difficult to grip
  • Not enough perch space
  • Perches caked in chicken muck

Chickens can be picky about things and if something isn’t quite right and this can lead to a change in behaviour, such as not roosting on a perch.

Fix

When chickens roost they will drop their bodies down onto the perch so it needs to be wide enough with a good enough grip so they can comfortably balance as they sleep.

If a perch is set too high the chickens won’t be able to jump up to roost and if there’s not enough roosting space, some chickens might have no option but to sleep on the ground.

It’s also a good idea to give perches a scrape when you clean out the coop to make sure that chicken much doesn’t dry and build up over time.

A DIY wallpaper scraper is a good tool to use for this job and one most people tend to have in their toolbox.

3 – Young and inexperienced birds

Problem

When you get young pullets or you’re introducing young birds (that you’ve raised) to a coop, then it might take them a little time to get used to roosting on a perch.

It’s common for young birds to want to sleep together in nest boxes or on the ground and it’s usually just down to a lack of experience.

Fix

Usually, young chickens who’re new to the coop will quickly learn where to roost, especially if there are older more experienced chickens in the flock that they can learn from.

If they’re struggling, you might need to check that the perches are low enough for the chickens to hop on to and they might need moving back up as they mature to fully grown adults.

You can also give your chickens a helping hand by gently lifting them on to the perches once it goes dark and they’re ready to roost.

4 – Possible health issues

Problem

When a chicken is feeling unwell they tend to stand still, fluff up and look generally sorry for themselves.

Reasons, why a chicken might be unwell, can vary throughout a range of illnesses and potential problems so I wouldn’t like to speculate here, but if you’re in doubt, always consult a medical expert.


You Might Also Like

I hope this post has helped you to find out more about chickens sleeping on the ground/coop floor, you might also like the following articles too:

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

Pentagon Pet is the owner of this article was first published on March 30, 2021..

What time do chickens go into the coop to roost

Can Roosters Hurt Humans?

Do Roosters Have a Favourite Hen?

How to Bond With Chickens (of Any Age)


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 March 30, 2021..

Click here to find out more about our recommended coop.