Why Do Chickens Lay On Their Side In The Sun

Why Do Chickens Lay On Their Side In The Sun


Chickens exhibit various behaviors that might seem peculiar to us, such as laying on their side in the sun. This article aims to explore the reasons behind this behavior, differentiate between normal and abnormal actions, and shed light on the factors that influence chickens’ actions. Understanding these behaviors is crucial for poultry owners to ensure the well-being and health of their feathered friends.

Personal Experience and Understanding

As poultry enthusiasts, we’ve observed chickens engaging in a wide array of behaviors. From scratching the ground to pecking at insects, their actions are often fascinating and sometimes perplexing. Among these behaviors, one that catches our attention is when chickens lay on their sides in the sun. It’s essential to delve into this behavior to comprehend its significance and potential implications.

Differentiating Between Normal and Abnormal Behavior

Before delving into the specific behavior of chickens laying on their sides, it’s important to establish a baseline for distinguishing between normal and abnormal actions. Monitoring our chickens’ conduct is crucial for early detection of any potential health issues. Abnormal behaviors can indicate underlying problems, and recognizing them is the first step in providing appropriate care.

Reasons Why Chickens Lay on Their Side

a. Sunbathing

Description of Sunbathing Behavior

Chickens sunbathe as a way to regulate their body temperature and boost their overall well-being. They stretch out on their sides, soaking in the sun’s warmth and basking in its rays. This behavior is particularly noticeable during warmer months when chickens seek sunny spots.

Benefits of Sunbathing

Sunbathing isn’t merely a leisure activity for chickens; it offers tangible benefits. The exposure to sunlight helps chickens synthesize Vitamin D, which is essential for bone health and proper eggshell formation. Additionally, sunbathing aids in feather maintenance, as it can help reduce parasites and mites that may inhabit the feathers.

b. Dust-bathing

Explanation of Dust-bathing Behavior

Dust-bathing is another intriguing behavior that chickens engage in. They create a depression in the ground and then proceed to flop around in the dust, covering themselves thoroughly. This behavior often involves laying on their sides as they roll around, creating a cloud of dust.

Purpose of Dust-bathing

Dust-bathing serves multiple purposes. First and foremost, it helps chickens maintain the cleanliness of their feathers. As they roll in the dust, the particles help absorb excess oils and dirt from their plumage. Moreover, this behavior is a natural defense mechanism against parasites. The dust particles effectively suffocate and remove external parasites like mites.

c. Resting/Sleeping

Chickens, whether chicks or adults, commonly rest and sleep by lying down on their sides. This behavior is a part of their natural rhythm, and it’s influenced by various factors.

Factors Influencing Sleeping Positions

The way chickens rest and sleep can vary based on factors such as their age, social dynamics within the flock, and environmental conditions. Chickens might find comfort in laying on their sides, which could be related to feeling secure or seeking relief from any discomfort.

d. Injury

Description of Types of Injuries

Sometimes, chickens might lay on their sides due to injuries. Injuries can range from minor scrapes to more severe wounds caused by factors like pecking from other chickens, foot injuries, or even predator attacks.

Examples of Injuries

Minor injuries might lead chickens to lay on their sides to reduce pressure on the affected area. However, more significant injuries could result in prolonged or abnormal laying on the side as a sign of distress or pain.

e. Illness

Chickens that are unwell might exhibit abnormal behaviors, including laying on their sides. Identifying signs of illness is crucial for prompt intervention and proper care.

Identifying Signs of Illness

Changes in appearance and behavior are common indicators of illness in chickens. Physical symptoms like changes in comb color, issues with the eyes or nostrils, and abnormal droppings can all signal potential health problems.

Abnormal Indicators

Illness can also manifest through changes in egg laying, appetite, activity levels, and posture. Chickens that are unwell may show a lack of interest in food, reduced mobility, and altered posture while resting.

Taking Action for Injured or Ill Chickens

Severity Assessment

When dealing with injured or ill chickens, it’s important to assess the severity of the condition. Minor injuries, such as wounds or scratches, can often be treated at home with proper wound cleaning and care. On the other hand, more serious injuries and illnesses necessitate veterinary attention.

Isolation of Sick Birds

To prevent the potential spread of illness within the flock, it’s advisable to isolate sick chickens. This not only safeguards the well-being of the affected bird but also protects the health of other chickens.

Minor Injury Treatment

For minor injuries, cleaning wounds and providing foot soaks can aid in the healing process. Keeping a close eye on the chicken’s progress and making adjustments to their care plan as needed is essential.

Injured Chickens

When dealing with injured chickens, determining whether they can recover with appropriate care or if they require professional veterinary consultation is a crucial decision. Swift action is vital to ensure the best possible outcome.

Illness Treatment

For chickens exhibiting signs of illness, ensuring proper nutrition and administering any necessary medications are important steps. Consulting a veterinarian can provide valuable guidance in tailoring the treatment plan to the specific illness.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Q1: Why do chickens lay on their side in the sun?

A1: Chickens lay on their side in the sun for various reasons, including sunbathing, dust-bathing, resting, and even due to injuries or illnesses. Sunbathing helps regulate body temperature, dust-bathing aids in feather cleaning and parasite removal, and resting behaviors are natural parts of their routine.

Q2: Is it normal for chickens to lay on their side?

A2: Yes, it can be normal for chickens to lay on their side as part of their natural behaviors. However, distinguishing between normal sunbathing or resting and abnormal behaviors due to injury or illness is crucial for their well-being.

Q3: How can I tell if my chicken’s behavior is abnormal?

A3: Look for signs of changes in behavior, appearance, and posture. If your chicken is lethargic, has abnormal droppings, exhibits changes in comb color, or shows other unusual behaviors, it might be an indicator of illness or injury.

Q4: Can chickens get sunburned from laying on their side in the sun?

A4: Yes, chickens can get sunburned, especially if they are light-colored or have exposed skin areas like their combs and wattles. Providing shade and ensuring access to both sunny and shaded areas can help prevent sunburn.

Q5: What should I do if I suspect my chicken is injured or ill?

A5: If you suspect your chicken is injured, examine it carefully for wounds and assess its overall behavior. If the injury is minor, clean the wound and monitor it closely. If you suspect illness, consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.


Chickens laying on their side in the sun is a behavior that encompasses various aspects of their natural instincts, health, and well-being. From the benefits of sunbathing and dust-bathing to the importance of recognizing abnormal behaviors due to injuries or illnesses, understanding these actions is vital for poultry owners. By providing suitable environmental conditions, regular monitoring, and appropriate care, we can ensure that our chickens lead healthy and fulfilling lives. Remember, observing and learning from their behaviors helps us connect with these fascinating creatures on a deeper level while also promoting their overall welfare.

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