Our chickens need rest just like we do, and just like every other animal, for that matter. It is essential that they get enough sleep in order to fight off diseases and stay healthy generally.
A lack of sleep has been linked with all sorts of health problems and chickens, and just as importantly increased stress which can lead to aggression and self-harm along with a lack of production.
Understanding your flock’s sleep schedule is critical to making sure they get enough rest. So, just what time do chickens go to bed?
Chickens go to sleep when it starts to get dark, not at a fixed time necessarily. This means they’ll go to bed a little later in the summer and a little earlier in the winter when days are short.
It really is that simple. Chickens are instinctively attuned to light levels when it comes to their sleeping schedule. When the sun starts to get low in the sky, they tend to stick much closer to the coop and when it’s properly dusk, most are turning in to get some shut eye.
There’s more you’ll need to know about the sleeping habits of chickens, and I’ll tell you all about it in the rest of this article.
Do You Need to Put Chickens in the Coop to Make Them Sleep?
No, not usually. As a rule, chickens that know where the coop is, or where home is I should say, will head there and get set to go to sleep once it starts to get dark outside.
In fact, don’t be surprised if you have a line of chickens getting agitated and noisy waiting to get into the coop if you have it closed for whatever reason when it’s getting dark!
However, it isn’t out of the question that you might have one or two birds that prefer to remain active for a short time after the sun goes down, especially if your property and the run are well lit.
That being said, chickens are social creatures, and they’ll generally go along with the flock, especially if there is a rooster ruling the run.
Do Chickens Have an Actual Bedtime?
No. As mentioned above, there is no specific time on the clock that you’ll be able to depend on when it comes to the bedtime of your chickens. Their instinct to head to bed and get some sleep is linked with sunlight levels, not an arbitrary time according to human reckoning.
So, for instance, in the spring and summer, your chickens will probably head to bed between 6:00 pm and 7:30 pm when the days are long, but in the wintertime, they’ll tuck tail feathers as early as 4:30 pm depending on where you are in the world.
When dusk arrives, chickens are ready for bed.
Why Do Chickens Go to Bed When it’s Dark?
It might seem strange at first that chickens go to bed when it gets dark outside of all other considerations, but if you know a little bit about the physiology of chickens and their ancestral, wild history it makes a lot of sense.
Chickens, and that includes their ancient jungle fowl ancestors, are prey animals, and lots of other animals like to eat them.
Also, these birds have notoriously bad eyesight in times of low- and no light. That means they are even more vulnerable in the dark.
Their best chance of escaping predators and protecting themselves is in the daytime, so when night comes they feel quite anxious and are ready to take shelter.
In the wild, this is up in a tree on a sturdy and, hopefully, hidden branch. In captivity, they want to enter their coop, or they are safe and sheltered and sit on a roost bar to get some shuteye.
So even though our chickens have been domesticated for millennia now in one form or another, old instincts persist, and that is why they still hide and go to bed at nightfall.
Do Chickens Sleep All Night?
Typically yes. Most chickens will sleep straight through the night, barring short periods of wakefulness. However, this is highly dependent upon the conditions in and around the coop and the individual bird’s position in the pecking order of the flock.
Birds that are lower in the pecking order are expected to remain more wakeful and alert for threats, whereas birds higher up in the packing order typically sleep blissfully all through the night.
And as you might expect, loud noises, bright lights, bad conditions, injuries, illness, and parasites can keep individual chickens or all birds disturbed and agitated all night long.
This can lead to a kind of vicious cycle whereas stress and agitation keep birds from getting enough sleep which make them surly the next day and cause even more problems for other chickens which will then cause more rough nights for the whole flock.
This is part of the reason why it is so important to keep the coop clean, fresh, well-ventilated, and free of pests.
What Time Do Chickens Get Up?
Dawn. Just as their bedtime is closely linked with a lack of sunlight, chickens base the time that they should get up on the presence of sunlight. When the sun starts to come up enough for them to see, they will wake up and be ready to leave the coop.
You’ll have to adjust what time you let your chickens out in the morning based on the sunrise if you don’t have an automatic coop door opener.
Will Chickens Ever Sleep During the Day?
Rarely. You might spot individual chickens catching a short cat nap during the day in a shady spot, but this is only likely if they’ve been missing a lot of sleep otherwise, if they are old, sick, or stressed.
Tim is a farm boy with vast experience on homesteads, and with survival and prepping. He lives a self-reliant lifestyle along with his aging mother in a quiet and very conservative little town in Ohio. He teaches folks about security, prepping and self-sufficiency not just through his witty writing, but also in person.
Find out more about Tim and the rest of the crew here.