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Why Is My Chicken Standing on One Leg?

As chicken owners, it’s natural to worry about your birds if they look ill or are in pain, but when it comes to them standing on one leg is this something to worry about or just normal behaviour?

In short, the most common reasons why a chicken will stand on one leg is because it’s feeling cold, the ground is cold or just because it feels more comfortable that way. In less common circumstances the chicken might be taking its weight off the foot because there’s a problem.

Read on to find out more about what it means if your chicken is standing on one leg and how to identify if there’s a potential problem.

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Chickens Stand on One Leg Because They’re Cold

The most common reason that chickens stand on one leg is that they’re cold and by standing on one leg they can tuck the other leg inside their fluffy under-feathers to keep it warm.

It’s also normal for them to periodically change the leg which they stand on so they can warm up the one which they’ve been standing for a while.

This behaviour is most common in bad weather and/or when the ground is cold and uncomfortable to stand on for any length of time.

Chickens don’t like cold weather and in particular, cold wet weather or snow. In wet weather, they can often be found sheltering on one leg underneath a bush or outdoor furniture looking a little bit sorry for themselves.


Comfortable Standing Position

Chickens will also stand on one leg just because it’s a comfortable standing position for them during some relaxation time.

Although chickens are usually on the move grazing and scratching for food, they will take some time to rest and will even have a small afternoon nap, especially on a warm sunny day.

They’ll often stand on one leg during this relaxation time and from our own experience, we find they like to do this in an elevated position.


Foot Problems Which Make a Chicken Stand on One Leg

In most cases, chickens will just stand on one leg through normal behaviour, but if your chickens look like they’re standing on one leg because they’re in pain when they put weight on their foot, further investigation is needed.

There are a few potential problems that could lead to chickens having sore and uncomfortable feet, these include:

1- Bumblefoot

Bumblefoot is a bacterial infection that produces a painful puss-filled swollen abscess on a chickens foot. This is a fairly common problem in chickens but one that can be treated (see below).

To check if your chicken has bumblefoot, look for a large swelling on the base of the foot or between the toes.

In many cases there will be a dark scab on the outside of the swelling, an example of which you can see on this image here:

Showing a chickens foot which has a Bumblefoot infection

It is possible to treat bumblefoot yourself to prevent the infection from getting worse and to ease the discomfort for the chicken.

For more information, take a look at this post from Tilly’s Nest on practical tips on treating Bumblefoot yourself.

2- Injury

Chickens feet go through a lot, from standing on all sorts of surfaces to vigorous scratching and digging for tasty morsels of food.

Although chicken feet are covered in tough skin, all of this hard work can sometimes lead to injury especially if a chicken scratches around sharp objects such as broken glass or barbed wire.

If a chicken has a minor cut it should heal by itself with no problems, but like any cut, it might be a bit uncomfortable to begin with.

You can get wound sprays (purple spray is good) and powders, which are useful to keep in stock for times when you need to prevent potential infections that can get into an open wound.

Amazon has a good range of wound sprays and powder for chickens which you can see via the link below:

For deep cuts and wounds that go beyond a minor injury, you should always consult a registered vet first before trying to treat it yourself.

3- Something is Stuck in the Foot

It’s also worth checking if something is actually stuck inside the foot such as a thorn or piece of glass that could be causing discomfort.

If possible, remove the object with some tweezers to provide immediate relief for the chicken. It’s also a good idea to use wound spray afterwards to prevent infection.

If you cant remove the object yourself you’ll need to consult a registered vet to get them to remove it for you.

4- Torn Nails

Chickens claws can become quite long and can sometimes catch and tear the skin around them a little.

It’s usually a minor injury when this happens, but you might see a little blood around the claw. A treatment with a little wound spray to prevent infection should do the trick, but again if you’re worried, seek professional advice.


How To Check Your Chickens Feet for Injury or Infection

The best way to check a chicken’s feet for any potential problems is to carefully pick it up and turn it onto its back so the feet are in the air.

This article was first published on March 23, 2021 by Pentagon-Pets..

This might sound like it could be distressing for the chicken, but they will go into a trance and even close their eyes when they’re upside down, which makes it easier for you to do a foot health check.

If possible get someone to help you because it’s easier if you have one person checking and one person holding.

The image below shows how we checked our normally feisty roosters feet, usually he would be fighting and pecking, but he stayed still and relaxed throughout:

How to hold and check a chickens feet

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