If you’ve noticed that your chickens are huddling together either inside the coop or outside and you’re worried there might be a problem, then I’ve put this article together to help you find out more.
Chickens can huddle for a number of reasons, which include; they’re young, there’s a problem with the roosting space, there isn’t any roosting space, potential predator threat or because of the weather.
In some cases huddling can become dangerous if chickens are pilling up on top of each other, so it’s a good idea to try and work out why it’s happening to prevent potential issues going forward.
Read on to find out more about the reasons why chickens huddle together along with information on how it can be prevented if it becomes a problem and potential problems which can arise from chickens pilling up on top of each other.
Reasons Why Chickens Huddle Together
Below is an in-depth look at the different reasons why your chickens might be huddling together so you can work out whether you need to do anything about it along with the best course of action.
1- Young Chickens Huddling Together
When you first introduce a young flock of pre-laying age to the coop, it’s normal to see them huddling together more in the early days.
They do this because it’s something they would have sone as chicks to stay warm when their feathers are fluffy and not fully developed.
An adult chicken can regulate its body temperature much better once it has fully developed feathers and under feathers which help to keep it warm on colder days.
This behaviour usually changes quite quickly once the chickens reach maturity at around 18-20 weeks when they start laying eggs.
2- Potential Roosting Problems
Chickens might also huddle together because there’s a problem with the perching area or because there are no perches at all.
These potential problems could include:
- The roosting bars are too high and the chickens can’t get up.
- There’s not enough roosting space for the whole flock.
- The perches aren’t wide enough or are difficult for the chickens to comfortably perch.
- The chickens are young and inexperienced and haven’t yet worked out how to perch.
For more information on troubleshooting this topic, take a look at the articles via the links below:
3- Predator Threat
In some cases, chickens can huddle together because they’ve been recently frightened by a predator or there’s a potential predator threat.
Even small predators such as rats and weasels can upset chickens and have the potential of being a threat.
4- Chickens Huddling in Cold Weather
Although chickens are pretty good at regulating their own body temperatures, they can get cold when the weather is bad.
Chickens will move closer together to benefit from each others body heat while they’re inside the coop which helps them to stay warmer as they roost.
This article was first published on April 11, 2021 by Pentagon-Pets.
If chickens are huddling together on their perches, then this is completely normal and nothing to worry about. If they’re huddling up in a pile on the ground, then there are some potential dangers which mean you might need to discourage it going forward (see below).
Can Chickens Smother Each Other?
Some chicken keepers have experienced their chickens pilling on top of each other on the coop floor or inside a nest box.
This behaviour is a little more unusual but it can happen in situations where the chickens are cold or because their young and inexperienced.
Although it might seem cute and it’s nice to know the flock is keeping warm, piling up in this way has the potential to make a bird sick and in some situations, it can even lead to fatalities.
Chickens can indeed smother each other, a behavior often stemming from overcrowding in the coop. When chickens are packed too tightly, they may pile up, especially in corners, leading to suffocation of birds at the bottom. To prevent this, ensure ample space per bird (generally 2-3 square feet per chicken) and observe flock behavior regularly to mitigate risks and safeguard their wellbeing.
Pentagon Pet is the owner of this article that was first published on April 11, 2021.
It’s important to know that although this might sound dramatic, smothering is unusual and there are some simple things you can do to prevent it from happening (which I’ll cover next).
How to Prevent Chickens From Piling on Top of Each Other
If your chickens are piling up on top of each other while they sleep on the ground then to avoid potential smothering, consider the following fixes to help get your birds onto perches:
- If the weather is very cold, is there anything you can do to make the coop warmer, such as insulation?
- For younger birds who aren’t perching, try lowering the perches.
- Try helping your birds onto their perches when they go into roost and are sleepy.
- Try placing small logs on the ground that break up the ground space so the chickens can’t huddle there but they can roost on the logs.
- If your birds are huddling in the nests, try blocking them off during the night until the situation resolves itself.
By using trial and error depending on why the problem is occurring you can resolve the situation and get your flock sleeping in a safe and healthy way where you don’t need to worry.
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I hope this post has helped you to find out more about why chickens huddle together, you might also like the following articles too:
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This article and its contents are owned by Pentagon Pets and was first published on April 11, 2021.