When going to see your chickens, you may sometimes notice that they are huddling together. For someone who has never seen this behavior, they will wonder if it’s normal, or it’s a problem.
So, why do chickens huddle together? Chickens will huddle together for several reasons. This includes roosting space, the threat from predators, cold weather, and they are young.
Huddling together is usually safe for the chickens, but sometimes, it can pose a risk as well.
Below are more in-depth into the reasons why chickens huddle together:
Reasons Why Chickens Huddle Together
Below are some of the reasons why your chickens might huddle together. Also, there will be solutions to fix the issue.
1. Young Chickens Huddling Together
When chickens are at a young age, their feathers are not fully developed yet. This means the feathers are unable to keep them warm, especially when it’s cold.
Therefore, chicks and young chickens tend to huddle together for warmth.
As they become an adult, their feathers are more developed, and they are able to regulate their body temperature.
You will see young chickens huddling together until they reach maturity at around 18-20 weeks.
2. Threat From Predator
If there are predators nearby, your chickens will huddle together for safety. Not just large predators, but small ones as well. This could be weasels, minks, and even rats.
By huddling together, it will make themselves look bigger and make it difficult for the predators to target them.
Some predators are great at hiding and will wait for the right moment to attack the chickens.
If you see your chickens constantly huddling for no reason, check for predators around the area.
3. Roosting Problems
Chickens could huddle together, there’s a problem with the perching area.
Below are some potential problems:
- The roosting bars are too high, which makes it difficult for them to get on to.
- The roosting space is not big enough for all the chickens.
- The material of the perch isn’t comfortable for them to perch on.
- The chickens are young and don’t know how to perch yet.
4. Chickens Huddling in Cold Weather
During the winter, chickens will have thicker feathers that help keep them warm.
However, it could get extremely cold where their feathers won’t be enough for warmth. To help keep them warm, the chickens may huddle together.
Chickens will huddle in large groups to benefit from each other body heat. If they are huddling together on the perch, there’s nothing to worry about.
On the other hand, if your chickens are huddling together on the ground, it poses some danger to them.
Can Chickens Smother Each Other?
Yes, it’s possible chickens can smother each other. When they pile on top of each other, they could become smothered or suffocated. Those that are in the middle or at the bottom of the pile could overheat and can’t get enough oxygen.
However, this will rarely happen. When the chickens begin to have a hard time breathing, they will naturally move out from the pile.
Those chickens that die are usually because they are young and inexperienced.
If you see your chickens start to pile on top of each other, it’s a good idea to separate them.
How to Prevent Chickens From Piling on Top of Each Other
If you notice your chickens are piling on top of each other frequently, you’ll need to prevent that from happening.
Below are some of the solutions to fix the piling problem:
Provide insulation during the cold weather. Chickens will naturally huddle together when it’s cold. They may start to pile on top of each other as well. By providing insulation in their coop, it will prevent that from happening.
Provide perches at the right height. A perch provides security for the chickens, and most will perch at night. Young chickens who can’t get onto the perch will start to huddle together for protection. The solution is to lower the perches, so the young chickens can get onto them.
Help your chickens onto the perch. If you notice your chickens are piling on top of each other often, it’s a good idea to help them out. When your chickens go into roost and are sleepy, place them onto the perch. Some chickens that are sleepy are too lazy to go up onto the perch. They will simply sleep on the floor of the coop.
If you see your chickens huddling together, it could mean something good or bad. Knowing the reasons behind why they are huddling together will help if you need to interfere.